On 22 November 2018, Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Councillor Robert Freeman, for his sterling work in encouraging cross cultural dialogue between Japan and the UK.
Councillor Freeman has served on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s council for 20 years. Throughout his career, he has been an avid supporter of the borough’s projects related to Japan, but of particular note is his contribution to the establishment of Japan House London on Kensington High Street. It was Cllr Freeman’s vision and understanding of Kensington that made clear what a perfect fit the project was for Kensington’s rich cultural landscape. As Mayor at the early stages of the project, and later as one of its most enthusiastic supporters, Cllr Freeman’s advice on the project was truly indispensable. Now established, Japan House London serves as a bridge across which the best in ideas and creativity will flow between the two countries, and the Ambassador stressed that none of this would have been possible without Councillor Freeman.
The Ambassador also drew guests’ attention to the fact that Councillor Freeman played a significant role in the events to mark the third anniversary of the opening of Fukushima Garden in Holland Park, which has become a stunning symbol of the recovery and rejuvenation of Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In order to deepen Kensington’s ties with Japan, Councillor Freeman was an avid supporter of a plan to build an English Garden in Motomiya City in Fukushima, which would become a sister garden to Fukushima Garden. The people of Fukushima, especially the Mayor of Motomiya, whose personal thanks were read at the ceremony, greatly appreciate his support.
In his speech, Councillor Freeman reaffirmed his strong belief that local level connections between Japan and the UK are the foundation upon which national ties are built, and his pride that Japan House London is situated in the borough which he has served for the last 20 years.
The Embassy of Japan