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Opening remarks on the 'Visit Japan Campaign' made by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of the Welcome Japan Symposium

On 6 July 2004, the Welcome Japan Symposium was held in London to promote Japan as a tourist and investment destination for British travelers and businesses. The morning session was dedicated to the Visit Japan Campaign (VJC).
6 Jul 2004

Ambassador Orita delivers the morning session's opening remarks
Ambassador Orita delivers the morning session's opening remarks

Sir Stuart, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you on this special occasion, and I would like first of all to express my gratitude to Sir Stuart, Chairperson, all the organizers and supporters for organizing this event. I am very pleased to see so many of you at today's Symposium, �ߡ�WELCOME JAPAN �ߡ�. This symposium will consist of a morning session and an afternoon session, entitled respectively �ߡ�Visit Japan �ߡ�and �ߡ�Invest Japan �ߡ�, focusing on the Visit Japan Campaign and the Invest Japan Campaign, both of which were started under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Koizumi. Both campaigns are �ߡ�Japanese charm offensives ' , promoting the charms of Japan to the world. This symposium is intended to introduce Japan as a tourist and investment destination from various angles. We will have eminent speakers and open panel discussions about how to attract more British visitors and investors to Japan. I hope that you will all be attracted by our charms by the end of today ' s symposium.

Now, on the occasion of opening the morning session, let me say a few words about �ߡ�Visit Japan �ߡ�. The government of Japan designated last year as the �ߡ�First Year of Tourism to Japan �ߡ�and has since joined forces with the private sector to vigorously promote the Visit Japan Campaign under the catch phrase �ߡ�YOKOSO! JAPAN �ߡ�, which means �ߡ�welcome to Japan �ߡ�. This campaign is all Japan Campaign, and is an initiative involving both the government and the private sector, designed to boost the number of foreign visitors to Japan, thereby leading to a deeper understanding of Japan by people all over the world. The government of Japan has set an official target of doubling the number of foreign visitors to Japan by 2010. To achieve this goal, the Visit Japan Campaign Headquarters has decided to choose the UK, along with France and Germany, as their targeted market in Europe this year.

If we look at travel patterns both into and out of Japan, we see that last year 16.52 million Japanese made overseas trips, while no more than 5.24 million people visited Japan from abroad. The comparison of international tourist arrivals in 2002 puts Japan in 33 rd place, running below not only Western countries but also a number of Asian countries. Even within Asia, Japan ranks 8 th , lagging well behind many countries.

Meanwhile, whereas around 400 thousand Japanese visited the UK last year, the number of British visitors to Japan --- and more UK people visited Japan than the nationals of any other European country --- reached only about one-half of that level, or about 200 thousand. The UK is a huge tourist market. Approximately, 60 million Britons traveled overseas last year, representing more than one trip per head of population. And simple calculation shows that Japan was the destination for only 3 in every 1,000 British travelers. Surely, therefore, there is huge scope to increase the level of British tourism to Japan.

To promote inbound tourism to Japan from the UK, �ߡ�the UK Visit Japan Campaign Promotion Committee �ߡ�was established under my chairmanship on the 5 th of May. Senior figures in the tourism and travel industries, as well as government representatives from both the UK and Japan, and key officials from other related organizations are already serving on this Committee. The first meeting was extremely productive. The Committee members provided invaluable comments and advice. I am convinced that, to really make a serious impact on encouraging tourism to Japan, we need advice from many people from both countries.

For some time now, I have been taking every opportunity to promote the Visit Japan Campaign. I have not restricted myself in this regard to approaching the representatives of Japanese organizations in the UK or British MPs and key figures in the economic arena, but have also directed my attention to younger people such as former graduates who have been to Japan under the JET programme and schoolteachers. The Embassy is also trying to encourage tourism to Japan. In every edition of the Embassy newsletter there appears a special feature in the Yokoso Japan series, and several pages of our website are dedicated to promoting tourism. We have also set up a special tourism corner displaying guidebooks and pamphlets in the foyer of this building. For those of you who have not seen it, please have a look at it.

It is worth bearing in mind that our campaign can benefit from the role of English as the international common language of the world. As British people, who have enjoyed trips to Japan, tell their friends in different countries in English about their experiences, the news will spread far and wide, thereby helping to raise Japan ' s profile all over the world. From this point of view, the UK is definitely one of the most important markets to be cultivated to promote tourism to Japan.

It is no exaggeration to say that relations between Japan and the United Kingdom have never been better than now. Japanese electrical goods and cars are normal elements in the lives of British people, while Japanese cuisine features frequently in everyday life in this country. Moreover, Japanese cinema, theatre, animation and music have also acquired quite a following here. Nonetheless, it remains a fact that the number of British visitors to Japan is extremely small, that Japan has scarcely registered in the consciousness of British people as a tourist destination, and that therefore extremely few British people are really acquainted with Japan or its people. We should not be satisfied with the smooth progress of our ties in the areas of diplomacy and trade alone. Rather, to build a relationship between our two countries that is truly solid and durable, it is essential that as many British people as possible develop an interest in, a knowledge of, an understanding of and ultimately an affection for Japan. I am convinced that the Visit Japan Campaign will become an extremely important part of the foundation of our future bilateral relations.

We want very much to promote the charms of Japan and attract British people. In fact, Japan has many different kinds of charms. Mountain scenery, rivers and coastlines are beautiful. If you travel by train, the scenery changes completely every three minutes. We have four very distinctive seasons, offering different natural beauties. The modern world and the world of tradition and history coexist. There are many temples, shrines and castles. You can enjoy any kind of sports from skiing to scuba diving, football, baseball, rugby, golf, Judo and sumo. You can enjoy a range of activities, from Kabuki, Noh theatre to modern theatre, karaoke, and the most sophisticated, new, and stimulating entertainments. The transportation system is not bad at all. In fact, it is rather good. Trains depart and arrive exactly on time. Many other charms are waiting to be discovered.

I believe that, to stimulate an increase in the number of British visitors to Japan, we need to polish and transmit the Japan Brand. For this purpose, we need as much advice and as many views as possible from people from both the UK and Japan. I expect to hear various views from many people here during the open panel discussion in the morning session.

I would like to conclude my speech, by hoping that everyone here will develop an interest in the charms of Japan and help increase the number of British visitors to Japan. Everyone will be hugely welcomed by people in Japan, saying �ߡ�welcome to Japan �ߡ�, �ߡ�YOKOSO! JAPAN �ߡ�. Please visit Japan in the sometime soon.




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