Leaders March 2015

Two views

Nurturing UK–Japan ties

I was disappointed when I discovered the visit to Japan by Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, coincided with a business trip I was taking. Off to the UK in association with VisitBritain, I would neither witness what impact the Japan visit would have on the duke or on the local people whose lives he would touch.

Yet, my time in England gave me something perhaps more interesting and valuable—the perspective of someone looking on events from the outside.

Strong, bilateral friendship
From the UK’s national news reports to the personal conversations of its citizens, the British population demonstrated that it is interested in—and cares about—not only the activities of the duke, but of Japan and its people.

This warm relationship is one that British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO believes will continue to flourish in the 21st century (page 9).

Also made apparent during my time in the UK was a deep-rooted concern among people there regarding the recovery of the Tohoku region, following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which occurred four years ago.

To mark the anniversary, BCCJ ACUMEN has charted the story of two UK film directors who, in making a documentary about football club Vegalta Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, discovered the strength local people gain from being fans of the team, and the dramatic impact that strength has had on their lives (page 28).

A special community page devoted to photos taken during the royal visit provides a glimpse of the range of activities in which the duke was involved over the four-day period (page 42).

Gardens nourish growth
The duke’s father, The Prince of Wales, has also had a dramatic impact on the development of UK–Japan relations.

The gardens at his Highgrove House residence are thought to have been one of the first of their kind to be promoted in Japan, thus helping to establish the English garden as an asset that can boost trade and tourism.

The dedication and innovativeness of British firms to make quality products for an art form they love is widely appreciated by Japanese garden enthusiasts, while UK gardens are one of the biggest factors affecting tourists’ choice of travel destinations (page 18).

I saw this phenomenon first hand during my recent trip to Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Well-known as the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the vista of the garden from the property’s entrance was described by his mother as “the finest view in England”.

It was created by Lancelot “Capability” Brown (1716–83), who is considered England’s greatest gardener. Such is the demand to see this rich heritage that Japanese guides are employed and a range of literature is available in Japanese.

Of all Britain’s attractions, gardens are some of the most popular. More details of what Japanese tourists want in the UK, the reasons for their choices and how this could impact businesses will be featured in BCCJ ACUMEN soon.