|Ambassador's Speech at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
|25 September 2002
|Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to be invited to address this seminar, one of the series for 2002 organised by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and The Japan Society, two organisations which have been playing a tremendously important role in promoting cordial relations and deeper mutual understanding between Japan and the United Kingdom. Today I wish to explore the current state and future direction of Japan-UK ties.
The World Cup this year had a big impact in both Japan and Britain. It is wonderful to see how the genius of the likes of David Beckham and Junichi Inamoto helped our two peoples come closer together. However, as everyone here will recognise, football does not tell the whole story about the Japan-UK relationship. That said, even in the field of football, behind the success of the World Cup lies not only the exploits of supremely talented players but also the excellent co-operation between the police forces of Japan and Britain, against the backdrop of the warm feeling shown by the Japanese people towards the UK.
The sound state of Japan-UK relations is mutually beneficial. Moreover, this benefit accrues not just to the two of us but will increasingly be applied to the resolution of global issues in which we share a common interest as well. It is my strong intention, as Japanese Ambassador to the UK, to try my best to further promote our bilateral ties to make them much more beneficial not only to Japan and the UK but also the cause of the international community as a whole.
Japan-UK relations in historical terms
If one reflects upon the 100 years that have passed since the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was forged, one finds a legacy that has much of relevance to our modern relations. I refer to such factors as (1) the potential for co-operation based on the similarities between us, including the fact that we are island nations and maintain an independent posture, based upon our rich and distinctive cultures and traditions, within our respective regions; and (2) the importance we place on equality between us, as reflected in the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. That was the first such undertaking in history between a Western and a non-Western nation participating as equal partners.
Of course, over the past century there have been huge changes in the circumstances surrounding our ties. These changes have embraced the international standing of the two countries as well as the balance of power and the issues facing the international community. Above all, our relations, rather than being conducted by a small elite, have become much more broadly-based.
As a result of these structural changes, Japan-UK relations have become more diverse and deep-rooted. Our two countries have developed close, co-operative ties on the basis of the value we both place on freedom and democracy and on the solid foundation of the accumulated interaction between us in terms of investment, technology, information and people. Let us look at this in more concrete terms.
The main elements of Japan-UK exchange
First, there is direct investment, one of the linchpins of Japan-UK ties. Sir David will address this issue in more detail later, but it is a fact that economic exchange centred on inward investment has contributed greatly to deepening our interdependence and raising industrial productivity. When I visited Wales a little while ago I appreciated how Wales and Japan had come to enjoy strong ties based on Japanese investment. It was 30 years ago that inward investment from Japan started, and this triggered a flow of such investment from Japan and other countries as well. All this played a big role in the restructuring of the Welsh economy. When I recently attended a meeting of motor manufacturers and traders, I was struck by the tremendous contribution Japanese carmakers had made to raising the technical level of the British motor manufacturing industry, which is now undergoing the process of globalisation.
Britain is the leading destination for Japanese companies setting up operations in Europe, and has consistently accounted for around 40% of such investment. Indeed, in fiscal 2000 this figure jumped to as high as 80% due to a large-scale project in the mobile telecommunications field. More than 1,000 Japanese firms are operating in Britain, having created more than 80,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. Thus it is that the economic links stemming from inward investment from Japan have come to comprise one of the main pillars of Japan-UK ties.
Let me just make a quick comment about the Japanese economy at present. It is clear that it suffers from some serious problems and needs to be restructured - a process in which I trust inward investment from British firms will play a part. Indeed, we would welcome investment from this country into Japan. While gloomy reports and articles about the Japanese economy abound, I believe its fundamental strengths remain as before. It is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that, as the world's second-largest economy, Japan accounts for about two-thirds of the GDP of all of Asia and five times that of China. It has the largest amount of foreign reserves of any country and has individual financial assets of as much as \1,400 trillion. There is no doubt that Japan, with its solid social structure and its technological strength, will see the reconstruction of its economy through so as to assume its share of the responsibility of managing the global economy.
(2) Experience and wisdom
Similarities between our two countries reflect our propensity for learning from experience. As mature nations, we face up to problems earlier than some other countries, for instance concerning such demographic issues as the falling birth rate and the ageing of society. We share common challenges towards the future on such issues as health, including the care of the elderly, energy strategy, the application of IT in public services and so on. We derive mutual benefit from sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience. Indeed, when Prime Minister Koizumi visited this country in July of last year, he and Prime Minister Blair agreed that their policy advisers should, as a matter of importance, keep in regular contact to confer on major issues of concern. Such dialogue is now under way.
Incidentally, a few days ago another area on which we can exchange knowledge and experience emerged - earthquakes! As you know, we in Japan are very experienced in this field, and we are ready to share what we have learned with the British people.
Obviously the exchange of opinions is not restricted to the level of government. Exchange is flourishing in universities, non-profit organisations and think-tanks. As governments we want to do everything in our power to support any initiatives that enable multi-faceted intellectual exchange to take place.
Exchange and co-operation in the field of technology is an area that involves both investment and ingenuity. Japan accounts for around 20% of global research and development and is strong in a number of fields including energy, life sciences and information technology. As for Britain, one can point to a long history and considerable achievement without needing to refer to the likes of Newton, Darwin or Faraday. Britain ranks second only to the US in terms of the number of Nobel Prize laureates for science. This is also an arena in which collaboration between Japan and the UK is flourishing. Following the 1994 Agreement on Co-operation in Science and Technology, more than 200 joint research projects covering a wide field from life sciences to the global environment are now under way. Moreover, every time I have visited a hospital in Britain, I have been impressed by the large number of joint research projects in the medical field in evidence.
As many as 160 Japanese companies base their research and development operations in Britain. In the IT field, discussions are taking place at various levels with the aim of expanding of UK-Japan co-operation. In the telecommunications sector, direct investment has flowed in both directions, embracing Vodafone's activities in Japan and NTT DoCoMo's move into Britain, while a healthy degree of technological collaboration is also under way.
(4) People-to-people exchange
With investment and technological exchange functioning as a key pillar of Japan-UK relations, the already-broad field of people-to-people exchange has the crucial role of deepening mutual understanding between our two peoples. In this context I want to refer again to Japan 2001, which came to an end earlier this year. More than 2,000 events were held throughout the UK and played a tremendous role in increasing people's understanding of Japan, particularly in provincial locations. We at the Embassy place great importance on boosting the sort of grass-roots exchange promoted by such a process. Meanwhile, the achievements of the JET Programme, in which almost 6,000 young Britons have taken part, have received wide recognition. Then there is the Working Holiday scheme that started last year, which promises to promote exchange among young people, the leaders of the next generation.
As for tourism, large numbers of Japanese are continuing to visit Britain, and I very much hope that more Britons will, for their part, choose to explore Japan. In this regard, British people clearly have a voracious appetite for overseas travel. On the other hand, while around 200,000 people visit Japan from Britain - more than from any other European country - every year, this figure represents only 0.3% of foreign trips undertaken by people from this country. If this very small proportion could be raised to the modest level of 1%, that would considerably raise the degree of interaction between our two peoples - and, of course, would help the Japanese economy!
Japan-UK links on the global stage
Japan and the UK share common values, are strategic partners of the US and depend on trade. We are also countries which should be expected to bear some of the responsibility for dealing with pressing global issues. In fact, there are a number of things our two countries can do to deal with major problems. The nature and depth of our interest on specific issues may not always be the same, but even on these occasions it is extremely useful to exchange views and try to appreciate each other's position.
In examining each other's standpoint, it is important to make the most of our mutual assets. For instance, Britain is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, an important EU state, is a highly significant country in international finance, enjoys intimate ties with the US, has an advanced military capability, enjoys well-established links with all parts of the world and can provide information and ideas. Meanwhile Japan, a major Asian nation and a key ally of the US, is the world's second-largest economy, a leading donor of ODA and an important financial centre, has a high level of technology and can furnish information and ideas.
I am delighted that, in addition to our traditional exchange of views and information, our two countries have been working together recently on some very concrete issues. Under our Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force has been providing fuel for British ships on duty in the Indian Ocean in the fight against terrorism. Britain is the only country other than the United States to have been accorded such assistance by Japan. Those people aware of the long history of debate on security issues in Japan will surely realise the significance of this development.
Furthermore, our two countries place great importance on the steady progress being made in the political process and post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan. In this regard, we are co-sponsoring two seminars on Afghanistan, one this autumn and the other next year. Of course, Japan and Britain also exchange views and co-ordinate policies concerning other sensitive areas in which we have a common interest. For instance, when tension between India and Pakistan was very high at the end of last year and earlier this year, we consulted closely with the other major nations and made strong representations to both sides in an effort to de-escalate the tension.
While the fight against terrorism is by no means over, the international community is also faced with various other security concerns. The problem of Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction is testing the will of the international community, and it is important that we co-operate closely in dealing with this challenge. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Britain naturally has a very important role to play in this matter, but Japan is also exerting every effort in the diplomatic arena. Iraq's announcement, made on the 16th of this month, that it would accept weapons inspections, came just two days after Foreign Minister Kawaguchi had made a direct appeal to her Iraqi counterpart Sabri.
Meanwhile, Japan and Britain are both keenly aware of the importance of making progress in the Middle East peace progress, and we are looking forward to further strengthening our co-operation in this regard.
Another highly topical matter would be Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to North Korea on the 17th of this month, the first such trip by a Japanese prime minister, which resulted in the decision to re-open negotiations on the normalisation of relations. North Korea also expressed its intention to extend the moratorium on the testing of missiles beyond 2003 and to comply with the international agreements on the nuclear issue. British Foreign Secretary Straw hailed this development as greatly contributing to peace and security in North East Asia. As Britain has diplomatic relations with North Korea and an embassy in Pyongyang, the situation in this region is another topic on which Japan and Britain have been exchanging views on a regular basis. In fact, the subject of North Korea, together with the Iraq issue, were discussed over the telephone by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi and Foreign Secretary Straw this morning.
As demonstrated by these examples, there has been and will continue to be great scope for Japan and Britain to work together on various issues. Thus we are well placed to play a positive role together in bolstering peace and security in the international community.
I would also like to see continued dialogue in the fields of the environment and development. Japan-UK co-operation played a pivotal role in the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, and we need to deepen our collaboration on the international stage in working on the leading nations on environmental issues. Furthermore, at the recent Johannesburg summit the key issues for the future as regards development and the environment were clearly established. In this regard, next year Japan will host the World Water Forum and a Ministerial-level meeting in March, and the third International Conference on African Development, known as TICAD III, in October. These hugely important issues merit even closer co-operation between our two countries.
I think I have sufficiently illustrated that Japan and Britain are well suited as partners and that our partnership is in very good shape. However, such a situation has not emerged as a matter of course and needs application from both sides. In order to strengthen our co-operation, we both need to make an honest and conscientious effort. We at the Embassy will do everything we can to this end.
A bilateral relationship is not something of a purely abstract nature: its essence is people. In this sense, the role played by Sir David Wright has been immense. Today is Sir David's last official day as Chief Executive of British Trade International. I would like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the Government of Japan as well as everyone here, including myself, our gratitude for everything he has done to promote the further development of Japan-UK relations. In the same spirit, may I congratulate Sir David for graduating from government service with such high marks. In closing, may I express my total conviction that the friendship between our two countries and peoples will become even warmer and more deeply-rooted in the future.