Ambassador's Blog


A brief visit to Scotland

October 2012


From 10 to 12 October I visited Scotland. The main purpose of my visit was to deliver two speeches, although I also took the opportunity to call on two Japanese companies with operations in Scotland. Happily, the trip enabled me to renew old acquaintances and to make some new ones.

On 11 October I visited GR Advanced Materials, part of the Global Manufacturing network of the Japanese company Ricoh, in Stirling, where they produce inks and other consumables for digital duplicators.  I was very impressed by the modern facilities and the highly efficient manufacturing set-up I was shown.


After my trip to the old capital of Scotland, I attended an “International Symposium: Cultural Policy and Creative Industries in Japan and Scotland” at Edinburgh University, co-hosted by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. I gave the opening speech on Japan’s activities in the field of soft power as well as offering my comments on Japan-Scottish relations. I was particularly impressed by the presentation from the creator of the digital pop star Hatsune Miku, Mr Hiroyuki Itoh, CEO of Crypton Future Media. The symposium was attended by about one hundred people, including Prof Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Lord Charles Bruce, Honorary Patron of the Japan Society of Scotland.


The following day I proceeded to Glasgow.  On the way there, I paid a visit to Shin-Etsu Handotai in Livingston, where I was able to observe the company’s cutting-edge process for manufacturing silicon wafers.

Upon my arrival in Glasgow, I had lunch with the Lord Provost, the Convener of the Glasgow City Council. Over a delicious repast that included such delicacies as Cullen Skink, or Smoked Haddock Chowder, we discussed a variety of issues, including the question of Scottish independence.

Upon my arrival in Glasgow, I had lunch with the Lord Provost, the Convener of the Glasgow City Council.  Over a delicious repast that included such delicacies as Cullen Skink, or Smoked Haddock Chowder, we discussed a variety of issues, including the question of Scottish independence.

 


In both speeches, I recounted the story of the “Choshu Five”.  Back in the 19th century, there was a group of five young Japanese men who came to the UK from the Choshu clan of Western Japan, currently Yamaguchi Prefecture, and studied at UCL.  Notable members of this group included the men who were to become our first Prime Minister, Hirobumi Ito, and our first Foreign Minister, Kaoru Inoue. The “Choshu Five” had links with Scotland: another member, Yozo Yamao, who later became known as “the Father of Japanese Engineering”, went from UCL to Glasgow to work at the Napier shipyard while studying engineering at Anderson College in Clyde. Next year, 2013, will mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of the “Choshu Five”. Since I am from Yamaguchi Prefecture, this story resonates with me, and I look forward to celebrating the anniversary next year.
 

Keiichi Hayashi
Ambassador


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