Japan-UK Relations

2013 Foreign Minister's Commendation - Reverend Professor Kemmyo Taira Sato and Mr Keisaku Sano

On Tuesday 5 November 2013, Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi bestowed the Foreign Minister's Commendation upon Reverend Professor Kemmyo Taira Sato, Director of Three Wheels Temple, for his outstanding contribution to relations between Japan and the UK and his efforts at fostering postwar reconciliation between our two countries.
The Reverend Kemmyo Taira Sato established Three Wheels Temple in London in 1994 and has since served as its Director.  One of the main aims of Three Wheels was to foster mutual understanding and spiritual exchange between Japanese and British people.  In this regard The Reverend Sato is especially known and admired for his valuable contribution to Japan-UK reconciliation by introducing the Annual Ceremony to Pray for World Peace and Reconciliation between British and Japanese War Veterans in 1997. He also engages in other ecumenical and inter-religious events for reconciliation which are co-organised with Anglican churches including Westminster Abbey, Coventry Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral.
Meanwhile, The Reverend Sato has done much to introduce Japanese culture to the UK and to promote people-to-people exchange. In particular, he has striven to have proper recognition accorded to the late Professor Alexander Williamson and his wife Catherine for generously looking after the first group of Japanese students in the UK (known as the Choshu Five), and many others who invariably contributed to Japan’s rapid modernisation. Earlier this year, with the great support and collaboration of Professor John White and many others, he established the Williamson Monument in Brookwood cemetery, the final resting place of Professor Williamson and his wife.

Ambassador Hayashi commented: "The formal recognition given to the Professor more than 100 years after his death was a wonderful reminder of the long history of the close bilateral relationship between our two countries. Once again Rev Sato was the driving force behind the whole event. In fact this time nothing would have been possible without the dedication of Rev Sato." Ambassador Hayashi concluded his remarks by saying: "Both as Japanese Ambassador and as a Japanese individual living in the UK, I feel we should thank Reverend Sato for his long dedication to reconciliation and friendship between Japan and the United Kingdom."

Several days later, on Wednesday 13 November, Ambassador Hayashi conferred the Foreign Minister's Commendation on Mr Keisaku Sano, Chairman of the Japan Association in the UK, for his valuable contributions over the years to Japan-UK relations.

Mr Keisaku Sano served the Japanese community in the UK for many years as the director, then Vice-Chairman and subsequently Chairman of the Japan Association, which was inaugurated in 1996 with the purpose of promoting friendship and mutual support among Japanese residents of the UK. 

After he became Chairman in 2009, he oversaw an expansion in the activities of the Association, for instance through holding the first Japan Matsuri in London that year. Bringing together organisations such as the Embassy, the Nippon Club, and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, as well as many British participants, he was the leading force behind the success of the event.
Japan Matsuri has continued to grow, this year being the fifth time the event has been held. Mr Sano was instrumental in negotiations to move Japan Matsuri to its current location of Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, where the event attracted more than 70000 people both last year and this year. Now the Japan Matsuri is the largest Japan-related event in the UK.

Due to the efforts of Mr Sano together with other members, the Japan Association was incorporated in 2011, then accorded the status of officially recognised charity.

However, the activities of the Japan Association do not end there. With the rising age of its members, a welfare group was founded for the purpose of supporting those in need. The organisation helps Japanese permanent residents of the UK who are elderly and living alone to travel to hospital, and assists with their nursing needs. It also supports patients who are admitted to hospitals and care homes.

In addition, for many years Mr Sano has organised the cleaning and maintenance of a Japanese cemetery in the outskirts of London, community park-cleaning and health-awareness efforts, and has personally widened the range of activities of the club, along with endeavors to promote of Japanese-British exchange.

Ambassador Hayashi praised Mr Sano and said: "I hope that he continues to promote the friendship between our two countries in a variety of different settings and thank him very much for his efforts to help the Japanese community in the UK to flourish."