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Speech made by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of a Civic Reception at the Mansion House in York

16 October 2003

Sheriff of York, Lady Sheriff, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Thank you very much, Sheriff, for your warm words of welcome. Thank you also for inviting me to the reception at this grand Mansion House of York.

I am delighted to be visiting this city for the first time in the capacity of the ambassador. But unofficially, this summer, two months ago, I visited this city with my wife and spent a whole day. So I may have already bumped into some of you perhaps along "The Shambles". We were enchanted by the beauty of the city with marvellous combination of history and modern development.

Today, I am very happy to be here to participate in "Japan Day" organized jointly by York St John College, the National Railway Museum, york-england.com and the Embassy of Japan. May I express my greatest gratitude to all the organizers, sponsors, volunteers and indeed everyone involved in this undertaking for their tireless efforts in making this event possible?

Now, may I this opportunity to talk a little bit about the present state of Anglo-Japanese relations? The bilateral relationship between the two countries is excellent. Politically, it was confirmed at the highest level between our Prime Ministers, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Japan in July, that Japan and UK is a reliable, trustworthy partner to each other in addressing the issues of the world, like issues relating to Iraq, Afghanistan, international terrorism, North Korea, reforms of the UN, assistance to developing countries, global warning and so on. We need each other much more than before in the conduct of foreign policies. In the world, full of uncertainties, this relationship is a very important, stable and solid factor for the peace & stability of the world. We should cherish it. The roles of the two countries may be different but we are mutually supportive to each other. The reconstruction of Iraq is an extremely important challenge that the international community faces today. The international Conference on Reconstruction in Iraq will be held next week in Madrid. Japan and UK are also cooperating with each other. Only yesterday, Japan decided to provide grant assistance totalling $1.5 billion for the immediate reconstruction needs of Iraq. We will help Iraq in the field of power generation, education, water & sanitation, health, employment, improvements of security situation.

Between the two Prime Ministers, agreements were made on enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the field of (1) global environmental issues (2) information & communication technology (3) Japan-UK Partnership in Science & Technology.

Economic interchange between the two countries is dynamic and much deepened. There are some interesting developments. Toyota, which is a Japanese car manufacturing company, has a factory near Derby. Quite recently, that factory started to export to Japan Japanese cars manufactured in UK. Japanese people are already driving Japanese Toyota cars made in UK. A big British company, Vodafone, operates quite a big part of mobile telephone network in Japan, using Japanese technology.

There are a lot of dimensions to our bilateral relations, and these are all based upon friendship and understanding of peoples of the two countries. The "Japan Day" in York will surely promote friendship and better understanding of people in York about Japan. When I look at relations between Japan and York, I want to mention that railway cooperation between the two governments started last year. The second meeting was held quite recently. Last year was the 130th Anniversary of introduction of railway system from Britain to Japan. Officials and railway people have started talk about our common challenges like safety of railway system and punctuality of railway services. The National Railway Museum, their locomotives an Japanese Shinkansen are symbols of our past and present cooperation. And I feel that there is a big potentially of cooperation in exchanges of academic people, scientists, young graduate students, gap students between York and Japan. Tomorrow, I look forward plan to visit the Science Park, where this city has another great potential for activities involving exchange between our two countries and peoples. I am confident that relations between Japan and York will become steadily closer in the future.

Sheriff! In your speech, you have extended invitations to Japanese tourists to York. Thank you very much for your kind invitation. Japanese tourists will surely accept you kind invitation. This summer, my wife and I enjoyed walking on the City walls seeing both modern and historic aspects of the City. Historical parts of York, mediaeval streets, the railway museum, only Shinkansen shown outside of Japan, appeal to Japanese visitors.

I look forward to witnessing the progress in our cooperation for myself on future visits to your delightful city.

Thank you again for your warm hospitality.

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