Address from Consul General Takaoka: Inaugural meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Japan

Thank you very much for the kind introduction, Mr. Lockhart.
My name is Nozomu Takaoka, new Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh.

Actually, I first met Mr. Lockhart MSP in Tokyo last summer, unofficially because I was not appointed as Consul General then. But I am very glad to observe here today the huge benefit that unofficial meeting has produced in the context of Japan-Scotland relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for inviting me to this very important inaugural meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Japan in the Scottish Parliament. This is indeed a very positive and encouraging initiative on the part of the Parliament and I would like to express my deepest appreciation on behalf of the Japanese Government.

In particular, I would like to thank and commend the far-sighted leadership of Mr Dean Lockhart as the convenor and value the positive and thoughtful response of every Member of the Scottish Parliament gathered here today.

May I also take this opportunity to humbly and personally congratulate all of you kindly involved in this undertaking?

As a diplomat, I have spent five years in the Middle East, both in secular Sunni and theocratic Shiite states, almost five years in the United States, both in the Republican leaning and Democratic leaning states, and nine years in three countries in Europe, from Viking descendants’ land to the Roman Empire epicentre. Based upon those experiences, I see clearly now that this is indeed a very appropriate timing for Scotland to focus upon Japan.

As Robert Burns said; “Nae man can tether time or tide. The hour approaches Tam maun ride.”

Therefore, I encourage you to ride to Japan for the following four reasons.

The first reason is our similarity between the Japanese and the Scottish. Both of us are honest and modest, yet determined and hardworking. Both of us are law-abiding and respect the rule of law, which has been carefully established over the years in the international community.

You might think these are all too normal virtues, but in fact, I know from my experience that you cannot take them as granted in today’s world.  I don’t intend to dwell upon the changing nature of the current world political scene, but in no other times in the recent history, cooperation and solidary among countries like the two of us are very precious and urgently needed.

The second reason is the economic reality of the world where we live. Especially in this turbulent situation surrounding Brexit, we must grasp the key realities which are essential in ensuring success and prosperity.

Sometimes, people tend to forget that Japanese GDP has been considerably larger than that of Germany for the past five decades. This means Japan-UK and Japan-Scotland bilateral economic relations have a great potential to grow.

Actually, it is not a potential, but already a reality. Everybody knows that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is critically needed for technological development and job security of the local economy.

The newest figure shows that UK’s FDI stocks as a whole increased by 12.6% to 1trillion and 337 billion pounds in 2017, the highest ever level despite Brexit.

And I would like to stress that when the average increase was 12.6% as I said, Japanese FDI increased by 71%, by far the highest rate among the all international investors, accounting for 61% of Asian total stocks, of course much more than China.

As results of this, there are as many as 1000 Japanese companies invested in UK nowadays, creating 150,000 jobs as shown in these leaflets.  There are around 50 Japanese companies based in Scotland employing 10,000 people.

I just want to very quickly name several important Japanese investments made in Scotland last year and this year, ranging from renewable energy, IT, advertising to the offshore oil industry.

- The Japan Bank for International Co-operation, provided a £743 million loan for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi UFJ and Kansei Electric are working with other partners to develop this major renewable energy project.
- Kawasaki Heavy Industries is developing a plant in Aberdeen to construct sub-sea vehicles for the oil industry.

- Mitsubishi bought 20% of the energy supplier Ovo who own the Selkirk-based company Spark Energy which employs around 400 people in the Scottish Borders.

- Pharmaceutical giant Takeda will be working with Dundee University to produce treatments to combat dementia. 

- Heriot-Watt University spin out company Optoscribe, which is based in Livingston, will be working with Sumitomo Electric to develop multicore fibre components for the data and telecommunications sectors.

The third reason is the recent diplomatic achievements by Japan. In the past two months, Japan has taken a leadership role to realize the entry into force of TPP11, Trans Pacific Partnership and Japan-EU EPA, Economic Partnership Agreement.

Because of the EPA, now there is no tariff on EU’s export of wines, whiskies and processed cheese to Japan and in due course, no tariff on Aberdeen Angus beef as well.

More importantly after the Brexit, Prime Minister Abe has repeatedly indicated to PM May that Japan will welcome UK to TPP11, now officially termed as CPTTP, with open arms.

This means that UK can be incorporated into the most advanced free trade area in the world. Currently, half of TPP11’s GDP is accounted by Japan, followed by Canada, Australia, Mexico and developing South East Asia. If the US ever decides to come back and re-join, revived TPP12, it will be much bigger economic entity than the whole of EU.

The forth reason will be the inevitable focus upon Japan in 2019 because of its hosting of the Rugby World Cup and in 2020  because of its hosting again this time the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Because both Rugby and Paralympics originated in UK, somebody told me the other day that the Olympics itself also originated in UK, the forthcoming two years will be ideal years to draw public attention to Japan-UK cultural events both in UK and Japan.

Therefore, Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister May agreed to launch “the Japan Season of Culture 2019-20”.

Last week, Asia Scotland Institute held a successful seminar entitled “Brexit: opportunities and challenges for future Japan-UK cooperation” hosted by Institute’s Chairman Roddy Gow and Director David Birrell at the Waldolf Astoria Hotel. This is only the beginning of Season of Culture events because people’s excitements are bound to mount as those international sporting events draw nearer.

Historically, Scotland led the way for UK in forging and developing relations with Japan. It was a Scot, James VI, who initiated the first diplomatic contacts between the British Isles and Japan in the early 17th century.
And it was the eighth Earl of Elgin who led the delegation and signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1858, 150 years ago, which laid the foundation for the two countries exchanges in modern times.

I am sure that the distinguished ladies and gentlemen in this chamber are going to follow the footsteps of James VI and the eighth Earl of Elgin. I am looking forward to working with all of you during my tenure in Scotland.

Thank you very much.