Lord Lieutenant, Provost of Fife, Member of the Scottish Parliament, Lord Bruce, Consul General, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I thank all of you very much for joining us on this most historic and auspicious occasion to celebrate the very important event for Japan, the abdication of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor at the end of this month and the succession by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince as the new Emperor on 1 May, starting the new era of Reiwa in Japan, which means 'beautiful harmony' in Japanese.
My name is Nozomu Takaoka and I have been Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh since last October. I consider myself extremely fortunate because in those six months, so many encouraging developments are unfolding here in Scotland, including today's events with a big help from a friend of Japan Lord Charles Bruce.
Let me take a moment to share those promising developments in the past six months.
First of all, I am always thankful for the wise guidance of the Scottish Government headed by the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon. Ms. Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs is always helpful in her dealings with Japan and is represented today by Mr. Mark Boyce. The Japan Society of Scotland has always been a great friend of Japan, too.
In the Scottish parliament, a most valuable development took place for Japan recently, the inaugural meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Japan. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the leadership role taken by Mr. Dean Lockhart MSP, the convener of the Group as well as the Asia Scotland Institute which is kindly assuming the secretarial role of the Group represented by its chairman Mr. Roddy Gow and its Director Mr. David Birrel.
In the economic field, Japan-Scotland ties are strong, too, despite that B-word.
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, actually the highest ever level.
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 this means that Japan is No. 1 investor among Asia.
Today there are over 50 Japanese-owned businesses in Scotland employing over 10,000 people. They operate in fields as varied as electronics, medicines, whisky and renewable energy.
And those investments are growing. Recent developments in the past few months include: £743 million official loan by the Japan Bank for International Co-operation for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm to be participated by Mitsubishi and Kansai Electric, sub-sea vehicles development for the oil industry in Aberdeen by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and 20% acquisition of the parent company of Spark Energy in Selkirk again by Mitsubishi.
In the cultural field, so many positive developments are taking place, too.
In February, National Museum of Scotland opened its new Asian wing. I commend the professional work being done by the curators to prepare the rich collection which includes the beautifully preserved Japanese armor and a high-tech display of traditional and precious Emaki picture scrolls.
In the same month, the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee celebrated its opening with the gracious presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who assiduously listened to the explanation by its Japanese architect, Mr. Kengo Kuma who is also famous for designing the main stadium of Tokyo Olympics 2020.
In March my wife and I participated in an exercise to plant 22 cherry trees in the Japanese Garden in Cowden, Clackmannanshire in typical Scottish weather of strong wind and pouring rain. Because we didn’t have an opportunity to see her on that occasion, we are so happy to meet here today Ms. Sara Stuart, who kindly led the project as its trustee and chair to reopen this authentic and beautiful Japanese Garden, which happens to open tomorrow to the public. It is a must see.
Perhaps I should explain why on that cold day of last month we were planting cherry trees with the Luke Graham MP and 16 students from Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. Because it was the very first batch of the Sakura Project which aims to plant over 1,000, possibly 5000 cherry trees across the UK. Of this, the Japanese Garden in Cowden was kind and generous to be the first venue to accommodate cherry trees, actually as many as 100 trees.
This cherry tree planting project is a part of "Japan Season of Culture in UK 2019-2020" Did you know that Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister May had already agreed, before those debates in the British Parliaments got more than heated recently, that in the year of 2019 and 2020, the "Japan Season of Culture in UK" and "The UK Season of Culture in Japan" would take place concurrently?
These will promote programs of cultural exchanges against the background of the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan this year and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year. The idea is that both rugby and Paralympics originated in UK and therefore these two years will provide ideal opportunities to promote cultural exchanges between Japan and UK and Scotland.
If you could see the banner over there, you should notice that today's event is registered as one of those programs.
I would like to thank Lord Charles Bruce and his staff for kindly hosting this event in the magnificent Broomhall House which contains a lot of treasures with historical significance.
Since the Bruce Family’s dealings with Japan spans three centuries, those treasures include the incredible art crafts such as a magnificent silver and bronze statute of cranes given by Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate to the 8th Earl of Elgin when he traveled to Japan in 1858 as the representative of the Imperial British Government to conclude the Treaty of Amity and Commerce to open trade between the two countries.
That was 151 years ago. And I have already explained the strong economic ties that have developed since then.
I would also like to thank Professor Aaron Moore who is going to speak after me for organizing this event of historical significance before the beginning of the Reiwa Era in Japan by inviting Professor David Howell from Harvard University.
Lastly, I would like to thank Professor David Howell for coming all the way from Boston crossing the Atlantic for this auspicious occasion. I was deeply impressed yesterday when I was dining with him by his vast knowledge of Japanese history and society.
Therefore, I would like to conclude by introducing certain aspects of connections between the Japanese Imperial Family and Scotland.
His Majesty the Emperor has visited Scotland as Crown Prince on two occasions in 1953 and in 1976. Apart from Edinburgh, he also visited Perthshire and enjoyed a picnic on the banks of Loch Lomond.
His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, soon to be the new Emperor has also visited Scotland. When I was studying at Balliol College of Oxford University from 1983 to 1985, His Imperial Highness was studying at Merton College. During that time, the Crown Prince conquered the UK's highest mountain Ben Nevis. Later in 1991, His Imperial Highness visited Glasgow and Perthshire. He planted a tree in the grounds of Scone Palace.
Scotland's history with Japan is long.
It was James VI who opened up the first diplomatic relations in 1613 between the then British kingdoms and Japan when it was governed by the Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
I would appreciate it very much if the distinguished ladies and gentlemen in this hall would encourage young Scots to follow the footsteps of James VI and the eighth Earl of Elgin or even it do it yourselves. I am looking forward to working with all of you during my tenure in Scotland.
Thank you very much.
Address from Consul General Takaoka: Abdication ceremony at Broomhall House
April 16, 2019