Ambassador's Blog

Governor of Tokyo visits London

November 2014

In October there was no shortage of events for me, but three in particular stand out.

On Friday 17 October I visited the Rolls-Royce plant in Derby, where I had a working lunch with senior representatives of the different areas of the company’s business and a tour of the state-of-the-art factory where civil aircraft engines are made. The company has extensive interests in Japan, supplying engines for aircraft and ships with both civil and military applications. For instance, it supplies engines for the aircraft used by Japan's two leading airlines. I was briefed on its business in Japan, its collaboration with Japanese companies and the potential to expand such cooperation in the future. Rolls-Royce plays an important role in the commercial relations between our two countries and will clearly continue to do so.

I had a very different task on Tuesday 21 October as the Embassy co-hosted with the British Red Cross a charity event to help that organisation raise funds for its worthy activities. In my welcoming remarks, as well as highlighting the valuable humanitarian support the British Red Cross consistently provides in response to emergencies around the world, I recalled with gratitude the rapid and extremely practical assistance it provided to Japan and my compatriots following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 2011.

At Rolls-Royce plant in Derby
Around 200 people attended the successful event, including members of foreign royalty and several ambassadors and senior diplomats.  The guests were treated to top-class cuisine, including sushi prepared by Mr Mitsuhiro Araki, one of Japan’s most eminent sushi chefs, who recently closed his three-Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo to open a new restaurant in London.

On Monday 27 October Governor Yoichi Masuzoe of Tokyo arrived in London, where he spent most of the week except for a brief visit to Berlin.   One of the main purposes of his visit was to strengthen cooperation between Tokyo and London concerning the Olympic and Paralympic Games which Tokyo will host in 2020.  Thus on the morning after his arrival he took a Hitachi-built Javelin train to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where so many of the spectacular events of London 2012 took place, for a meeting with Mayor of London Boris Johnson as well as for a tour of the Olympic facilities.  In their meeting the two men struck up a friendly relationship.  Indeed, Governor Masuzoe felt they had much in common “except our hairstyles”! 

Red Cross charity event at the Embassy
They agreed to step up Olympic-related cooperation between the two cities as well as to make as much progress as possible on the establishment of a formal city-to-city partnership before Mayor Johnson visits Japan next year.  (The dates of the planned visit are not yet fixed.)

Another aspect of the Governor’s remit was to raise Tokyo’s profile as an international financial centre.  To this end he visited the City, where he took part in a round table discussion chaired by Sir Roger Gifford, former Lord Mayor of London, and attended by many eminent figures from the financial world.  He outlined his vision of Tokyo as a centre on a par with Wall Street and the City of London and described Tokyo’s diligent efforts to achieve this goal.

On his last full day in London Governor Masuzoe also delivered a lecture at Chatham House, where he spoke of his vision for Tokyo in the run-up to 2020 and beyond.  Then, on Saturday 1 November he flew back home, having laid firm foundations for an era of strengthened friendship and cooperation between Tokyo and London.

Keiichi Hayashi

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