On Thursday in the Tokyo National Art Centre, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán opened an exhibition of Hungarian works of art. At the event, the Prime Minister highlighted that Hungarians have to prove that the world is better off if there are Hungarians. Princess Tsuguko of Takamado said to this day she vividly remembers her visit to Budapest more than ten years ago, and today this exhibition further strengthens Hungarian-Japanese relations.

At the opening of the exhibition entitled ‘Treasures from Budapest: European and Hungarian Masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest and the Hungarian National Gallery’, the Prime Minister stressed that a Japanese person would find it hard to understand Hungarians because Japan is a sizeable nation; its territory is four times the size of Hungary, and its population is ten times bigger. A Japanese person surely believes that there have always been Japanese people and there will always be Japanese people, the world is inconceivable without them, he stated.

DownloadFotó: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd

He said, by contrast, the Hungarian nation is less numerous than the Japanese, and therefore we keep pondering the idea that the world and humanity could also live on without Hungary and the Hungarian people. “It is a recurring nightmare of ours” that one day the Almighty turns up in Hungary and asks us the question to what end we are here in this world, and if we cannot answer his question, he will erase us from the big book of nations, he said.

He took the view that the Hungarian people are innovative and are capable of creating world-class works of art such as the ones on display here because they have to prove that the world needs them, that the world is better off if there are Hungarians. Hence the great many Hungarian Nobel Prize winners, hence the great many Hungarian Olympic gold medals, hence such works of art; this is all about “Hungarians demanding a place for themselves under the Sun,” he stated.

DownloadFotó: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd

Mr Orbán said when he speaks to Japanese people in Hungary, he has the impression that more things connect us together than divide us. “The common thread of spirit, emotions and virtues” is recognised immediately if a Hungarian speaks to a Japanese, he underlined.

He also highlighted that there is a major cultural project and development under way in Budapest, “we are building a fantastic museum quarter” and after an international architectural call for proposals, two buildings will be designed by Japanese architects.

Regarding the anniversary of the establishment of Hungarian-Japanese diplomatic relations, he said 150 years is a milestone anniversary which can be celebrated in many different ways. We are celebrating it with an exhibition, with culture because this is worthy of two ancient nations of culture such as the Hungarian and Japanese.

He said he had travelled more than ten thousand kilometres to attend this event today. Hungary is a strange, remote country with strange people in it, and it is the impression of their cast of mind that is on display at this exhibition, he remarked.

The Prime Minister thanked everyone who helped with bringing the works of art to Tokyo, and especially thanked Osamu Suzuki, Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, “an old friend of Hungary” who did a great deal to make the exhibition happen.

He said he sincerely hoped that visitors of the exhibition would have an exciting time viewing the works of art. If they liked what they saw, they should come to Hungary, we would be happy to welcome them, he added.

Mr Orbán finally thanked Japan for 150 years of friendship. “God save Japan and the Hungarian people,” he said in conclusion.

Princess Tsuguko of Takamado recalled that she had last been to Hungary in 2008, and still remembered the Budapest Danube Banks, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Chain Bridge and the museums. At the exhibition now opened, works representing Hungary will be on display, works of art which have not yet been seen in Japan, she said, adding that the exhibition will further strengthen Hungarian-Japanese relations.

László Baán, Director General of the Museum of Fine Arts said one of the most prosperous periods in Hungary’s history began at a time when Japan itself was about to embark on a new and prosperous era, in the mid-19th century. It was at this time, in 1869 that diplomatic relations were established between the two countries, and with this Hungary and Japan found themselves closer to one another than ever before, he said.

He recalled that the construction of the Museum of Fine Arts was ordered at the end of the 19th century, its collection was enriched with major state purchases and donations, and this is how it achieved the high status that it holds to this day. It was from this collection that they now brought a comprehensive selection. Visitors will be able to see not only the works of prominent European artists, but also major Hungarian works of art, he underlined.

Eriko Osaka, Director General of the National Art Centre, Tokyo, said two great Hungarian museums combined forces to bring special works to Tokyo for Japanese audiences. A magnificent collection was brought here from Hungarian institutions; Japan had never before hosted an exhibition like this, he said, adding that the exhibition will offer art-loving museum visitors a rich experience.

The exhibition will be open in Japan until mid-March 2020 with 130 works on display; the masterpieces cover a period of 400 years of art history. The exhibition is being held to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Hungarian-Japanese diplomatic relations.