"Hong Kong has remained free, open and dynamic since it returned to the motherland 10 years ago, meaning the 'one country, two systems' concept has worked in Hong Kong," said Shigekazu Sato, consul general of Japan in Hong Kong.
"Despite many challenges such as the Asian financial crisis, Hong Kong has enhanced its status as international financial, trade and shipping centers over the past 10 years," said Sato in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Sato, as an official in charge of China affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, came to Hong Kong and attended the ceremony of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 1997.
"It was just like yesterday. The rain was heavy," recalled Sato.
"At that time, the whole world was much concerned about Hong Kong's future, with some people fearing Hong Kong would probably lose its vitality and brightness," said Sato.
"But 10 years have passed, people now see a more prosperous Hong Kong," he said, adding that more and more Japanese companies are coming to Hong Kong.
Japan has become Hong Kong's third largest trading partner, only next to the Chinese mainland and the United States. More than 2,100 Japanese companies have established offices in Hong Kong, and some 27,000 Japanese live here, both numbers hitting record high.
Sato said that the free market environment in Hong Kong has attracted more investment from Japan, especially after the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong was signed in 2003. CEPA gives companies in Hong Kong more access to the Chinese mainland market.
"Japanese companies in Hong Kong can take advantage of CEPA and enter the Chinese mainland market," he said, noting that Hong Kong serves as another bridge of friendship between Japan and the Chinese mainland.
"We hope that Hong Kong will continue to be free, open and dynamic," the Japanese consul general said.