Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, along with Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India, on Thursday inaugurated the Cherry Blossom Festival 2021 at Wards Lake, Shillong. 

The Ambassador was accompanied by his wife and the Japanese delegate. The first edition of Shillong Literary Festival that was also a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival was also inaugurated during the occasion.

In his address, Chief Minister Sangma, expressing happiness to hold the Cherry Blossom Festival again this year, said the government has always been trying to make it an annual event, making it more inclusive and innovative while promoting music, art and culture.

“For a region like the North East that has immense talent, it is not only about giving them a platform but also giving them the opportunity to come together to learn and to share their ideas and talents,” he said.

The Chief Minister also informed that as the state will be celebrating 50 years of statehood and a number of befitting programmes have been lined up across the state that will give an opportunity to the youth to showcase their talents.

“The government, in the next few months, will for the first time engage with the musicians of the state in a very constructive manner, giving budding local musicians not only the platform but helping them take music as a career option,” he said.

Sangma added that the government is focused on creating entrepreneurs out of the artists in a sustainable model where the talent and passion of a youth can become his livelihood.

He hoped that the Shillong Literary Festival, which is being held for the first time, will give an opportunity to writers, readers and authors from the state to connect with literati from other parts of the country. He also thanked the Japanese government for the support it has given to Meghalaya.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Suzuki said the Cherry Blossom Festival will build the people-to-people relationship not only within India but between Japan and India.

“Exchange of programmes between two nations is essential to enhance cultural ties and Japan has been inviting promising young leaders from the North East region under the Japanese programme Iris and Indian students have resumed travelling to Japan under the Japanese scholarship programme,” he said.

The ambassador added that the NorthEast enjoys a strategic location that is key to the realization of Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision.

“Japan is proud of being a reliable and staunch partner for the Northeast based on our historical ties, trust and friendship. The shining example of our assistance to the region is the North East Road Connectivity Project which will greatly benefit Meghalaya and enhance connectivity with Assam and Bangladesh,” he added.

He also said that Conservation of nature is also a key area and Japan has been assisting in realizing sustainable development through JAICA’s projects for community-based forest management and libraries improvement.

“We aim to restore and conserve forest and natural resources of the village communities, and also helping Meghalaya to utilize its abundant water resources by renovating and modernizing the Umiam hydroelectric power plants,” he informed.

Also present during the inauguration were Chief Secretary Rebecca Suchiang, Secretary, NEC, K Moses Chalai, Dr Vijay Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Tourism, Government of Meghalaya, B K Lyngwa, PCCF, Meghalaya, among others.

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