Defence and medical collaboration to the foreThe Christmas and New Year holidays are now a distant memory as this year’s diplomatic calendar gets under way. The first month of the year has offered some notable events illustrating the broad sweep of Japan-UK relations.
One such occasion involved the Defence Logistics Treaty between Japan and the UK, which is also referred to as an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement. On 26 January I signed this accord on behalf of the Government of Japan with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The two countries had laid the groundwork for this development at the Second Japan-UK Foreign and Defence Ministerial (“2+2”) Meeting, which was held in Japan last January. Japan subsequently hosted the first joint exercises between the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Air Force. The treaty highlights the close co-operation between our two countries and, in particular, marks a significant stage in our security and defence relationship. As two close partners sharing fundamental values such as the rule of law and democracy, we are both committed to stepping up our security collaboration and to joining forces in tackling the many weighty global issues which face us.
On the following day I visited the Toyota factory in Derby and some of its local suppliers. This gave me a good opportunity to witness the success so far of collaboration between the Japanese carmaker and its partners in the region and to gain a sense of what more they can achieve by working together in pursuit of a common goal. A contrasting event took place at the Embassy on 1 February as we helped celebrate the opening of the London office of the Japan Agency for Medical Research Development (AMED). At the reception I welcomed Dr Makoto Suematsu, President of AMED, and Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), who signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the presence of the guests. AMED is aiming to increase opportunities for our two countries to engage in cutting-edge research and development in medicine and to step up their collaboration in areas such as people-to-people exchanges, embracing the whole range of activities from basic research to clinical trials. I trust their initiatives will bear fruit not just for the benefit of our two countries but in the global context as well.
I have also participated recently in two memorable cultural events. One was a tea ceremony at my residence carried out by a Master from the London branch of the esteemed Urasenke school on 28 January. My local friends and diplomatic colleagues joined me as guests for this special occasion. Then on 3 February I attended a Burns Supper, an annual event commemorating the great Scottish poet organized by the Clan MacLean Association of England and Wales. This lively gathering gave me a powerful taste of Scotland’s cultural heritage – including a very real taste of the iconic haggis!
With the weather having turned milder of late, I am now looking forward to my first spring in London.