(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe,
Her Majesty the Queen and I wish to thank you, Mister Prime Minister and Mrs Abe, for your warm-hearted reception tonight and for your kind words.
During these last few days, Her Majesty and I have once again had the pleasure of renewing our strong bonds with Japan and with the Imperial Family. As always in your country, we have been received with outstanding warmth and hospitality.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of diplomatic and commercial relations between Japan and Sweden. And, in fact, this day, the 25th of April, marks another milestone in our shared history.
After the Meiji restauration, when Japan opened up to the world, most European nations signed agreements with Japan. But only a few of them were visited by the historic Iwakura mission. Sweden was one of them.
On the 25th of April, 1873, snow covered the streets of Stockholm. Ambassador Iwakura was taken to the Royal Palace in a State coach drawn by six black horses. At the court yard, many people had gathered, hoping to catch a glimpse of the faraway guests.
At the palace, Ambassador Iwakura presented his mission to King Oscar II – my great-great grandfather – who then hosted a dinner in honour of the Iwakura mission.
And now, my friends, here we are! One hundred and forty five years later, to the day, at the beautiful Akasaka Palace. Once again celebrating the friendship between our two nations.
Today, both our countries are mature economies; democracies, defending the same values in a turbulent world. We live in a time where challenges are increasingly of a global nature. Cooperation is more important than ever.
During this visit there has been a focus on business opportunities – not least in view of the coming free trade agreement between Japan and the EU. We have also had a dialogue about social challenges that both our countries face. There are exciting developments in the area of academic and scientific exchange; with an impressive number of Nobel Laureates, Japan is truly a country of excellence in this area.
And finally, let us not forget the culture that provides mutual inspiration to so many people.
Mister Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe: Thank you for a most rewarding visit. It is my sincere hope that this anniversary will be a stepping stone to even stronger relations between Japan and Sweden.
Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you all for your endeavours in bringing our two countries closer together. Thank you, and more importantly: Keep up the good work!
Let me propose a toast. As we say in Sweden: Skål!