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Speech made by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of a reception for the members of the JET Alumni Association

On 24 March 2004, Ambassador Orita delivered a speech at a reception held to welcome back British participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

25 March 2004

Ambassador Orita delivers a speech at the JET reception

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for coming. I welcome you all to the Embassy. I am delighted to be here with you. Of so many receptions which I host at the embassy, surely this reception is really special one, full of young energy and all people here share the common sentiments about the excellent JET Programme.

I am sure that all JET people who have been to Japan must have had a quite a unique experience there and come back one or two scales bigger not in terms of physical size and weight, I hope, but in terms of human capacity to understand much more deeply human being and different cultures. You must have made many Japanese friends. You must have learned a lot about Japan. And you must have discovered that, despite the geographical distance and differences of cultural background, there is a lot of common ground between Japan and UK. And I am pleased to see that many of you have become quite proficient in the Japanese language. Nihongo ga jouzu ni narimashita ka?

Wakarimasu yo ne. Douka, sono choushi de gambatte kudasai. All these experiences of yours will surely help you enormously whichever way you may choose to go in your future. Please tell your own experiences and your own discoveries to your British friends and please build a bridge between the peoples of UK and Japan.

Now, the relationship between Japan and the UK is extremely good. The two governments co-operate with each other on many matters about Iraq, United Nations, fight against international terrorism, science and technology, environment. Your Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair made public the decision of the UK government to participate the Aichi World Exposition which will open just one year from today. We welcome that decision. Interchanges of our business activities and cultural exchanges have deepened and strengthened. Have you seen and driven a Toyota Car manufactured in UK by UK people? They have been exported to Japan since autumn last year. Have you used a Japanese handy telephone using Japanese technology and operated by Vodaphone? Have you seen Shakespeare's Hamlet played by Japanese Noh actors in Japanese and with English surtitle? The play was a big hit here in London.

It is my strong belief that the fundamental basis of all these relationships is people-to-people exchange. And here you have been played a very important role in fostering better understanding between the peoples of the two countries. And I hope very much that you will continue to play this role.

In this context, I like to take this opportunity to ask your understanding and cooperation on one matter. We want more UK companies to invest in Japan and we want more UK people to visit Japan. We have started what we call ��תnvest Japan Campaign.�ߡ�We will soon start what we call ��׷isit Japan Campaign�ߡ� Our Government has set the official targets of doubling the amount of foreign investment into Japan and the doubling the number of foreign visitors to Japan. As for investment, our Prime Minister Mr. Junnichiro Koizumi has appeared on a TV commercial for the last two weeks to appeal to the world for investment into Japan. It is rather extraordinary performance on the part of the Prime Minister. And have you read today's Financial Times? If not, please read it. There is 4 pages special report about investing in Japan.

These days a series of encouraging economic figures have been coming out of Japan. We should not be complacent, but I feel that the period of pessimism is now over. It is high time now for people to look to Japanese economy much more positively. As for tourism, the UK people, including all of you, are the most extensively traveling people of the world. According to statistics, 60 million people go abroad every year. The number is more than your population. Many people go abroad more than once. But if you examine statistics more deeply, only 3 in one thousand travelers reach Japan. Don't you think it is too small? There is a big room for welcoming visitors from UK. Please encourage young UK people to visit Japan. In Japan, as you know, there are many interesting places to visit, both modern and historical. The scenery of mountains and coastlines are beautiful. There are varieties of food. And trains go on time and you can plan your schedule quite efficiently.

There are hot springs. There are Karaoke bars and even Karaoke boxes. And people are hospitable.

Please promote the charms of Japan as good destination for investment and travelers. If you have any good idea to promote the charms of Japan in terms of investment and in terms of tourism, please let us know. We wait for your positive suggestions.

Lastly, I like to express our deepest gratitude, on behalf of myself, the Embassy and the Government of Japan, to JET Alumni Association, its members and JET graduates, and JET supporters, for a great contribution to the friendship and understanding between the peoples of Japan & UK.

We at the Embassy are ready to cooperate with you and help you. We are very eager to keep contact with Ex-JETS. You are always welcome to our embassy. Our door is widely open to you. I wish all who are here every success and all the best.



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