No summer pause in Embassy’s work
I hope you are enjoying the summer and have had or are going to have a vacation. Although many people are in a holiday mood, we at the Embassy have plenty of tasks to keep us busy. Indeed, there are a number of events lined up for me in the weeks ahead, representing opportunities for me to add to my knowledge and experience of the UK.
With no let-up in my official duties, I find the time has been flashing by as fast as ever! On 13 June I attended the British-Japanese Parliamentary Group (BJPG) Reception at the House of Lords for the second time. It was a pleasure to renew acquaintances with the Chair, Roger Godsiff MP, and the other members of that very special group of people tirelessly working to strengthen our bilateral relationship. The following week, on 19 June, I hosted the Annual Summer Reunion for Peace and Friendship, now in its 21st year. This important gathering was set up to mark the huge achievements made in bringing about postwar reconciliation between Japan and the UK. We assemble once a year to reflect on the past, to appreciate the present and to direct our thoughts to the future, recognising the great difficulties we have overcome along the way. The guests who come to this event, in many cases travelling long distances, make it an absolutely unique occasion and a fitting tribute to the excellent relationship our two countries have come to enjoy today.
I subsequently attended some other events which have become staples of the Embassy calendar. On 28 June I welcomed Ministry of Defence colleagues, military attachés and diplomats to celebrate Japan Self-Defence Forces Day. Two weeks later, on 12 July, the Embassy hosted the Annual General Meeting of the Japan Society, just a year after the memorable celebrations of its 125th anniversary. These two occasions in their different ways testified to the buoyant state of our bilateral ties.
On 13 and 14 July I had the very agreeable opportunity to visit Wales. The trip was organised by Visit Wales to promote tourism there, focusing on the Japanese market. I first visited Wales last November, and followed it up by attending a reception in March for Mr Keith M Dunn OBE KStJ, the new Honorary Consul of Japan in Cardiff. This third trip enabled me to learn a little more about Welsh history and culture. My itinerary included a tour of the Senedd of the National Assembly, where I met Mr Ken Skates, the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure. I also took in the Wales Millennium Centre, the Penderyn Distillery, Big Pit National Coal Museum, and both Caerphilly and Cardiff castles, and paid a second visit to the National Museum Cardiff. The number of Japanese businesses in Wales is on the rise, and it is an important function of the Embassy to support and promote business links between Japan and the various regions of the UK. My role in such activities is sure to grow in the future.