Address from Consul General Takaoka: The second Cross-party Group on Japan meeting at Scottish Parliament

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

I am glad and honoured to address the Cross Party Group on Japan once again, because this is its first meeting in the new Japanese era of Reiwa which started last month with the enthronement of His Majesty the new Emperor and because we have Minister Okada today joining us from the Japanese Embassy in London.

Also the choice of today’s topic is quite opportune because SMEs play a significant role both in the Scottish and Japanese economy.
I am glad to note that the emerging consensus of the previous four speakers is that there is great potential for Japan Scotland cooperation in this regard.

Since my previous job was Managing Director of the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises of Japan, I can see a clear future for Scottish SMEs to play a pivotal role in enhancing Japan Scotland relations for three reasons.

The first reason is that SME’s make up an important part of Scotland’s exports;  43.5% by value in 2017. 

The second reason is that SMEs are not just economic entities but the essential elements of cultural and social fabric of local communities. Both in Japan and Scotland, vibrant and attractive communities thrive on strong SMEs.  Therefore, supporting Scottish SMEs in their efforts to export to Japan entails additional benefits for promoting overall Japan Scotland relations.

The third reason is that those economic and cultural values of Scottish exports are most likely to be duly appreciated by consumers of mature economies like Japan, which has the capacity to appreciate and absorb distinctive high-end goods and services meeting its niche demands.
I would like to briefly share a few Scottish success stories with you.

Brewdog, which started out as a small brewing company in Aberdeenshire now operates a popular bar in one of the most fashionable area in Tokyo, Roppongi, their first investment in Asia. Their craft beer with colourful titles such as “Punk IPA” and “The End of History” cost about six pounds per glass and sells rather well. 

The company’s connection with Japan started ten years ago when they created a beer named “Tokyo” and  started exporting to Japan, finding a distributor through a Japanese SME originally founded to distribute Scottish whisky.

Participating in Expos in Japan offers other possibilities. Every year, Scottish seafood suppliers are in Japan to attend the annual Japan Seafood Expo to demonstrate quality products such as salmon.  

In fashion industries, a series of success stories are created by an Orcadian jewellery company, Ortak and an Ayrshire luxury leather company Glenroyal. Both of them found good Japanese partner importers and are catering for limited but high-end market in Japan.

Renewable energy offers another promising possibility as Japan needs to accelerate its green strategy following Fukushima and the troubled waters in the Middle East.

Another Orcadian SME Aquterra joined the Marine Industry Cluster in Nagasaki, Japan and opened its office together with a tidal test site there in 2016, providing high tech services relating to environmental surveys.

I am sure that there are great chances for other Scottish companies to follow those success stories.  The Japanese External Trade Organisation or JETRO, provides a service to help companies to trade with Japan and invest in Japan along with its sister organisation Manufactured Imports and Investment Promotion Organization or MIPRO.

JETRO’s nearest office is in London and even without Mr. Okada’s intervention, there will be always someone available to provide useful information for establishing business in Japan, including finding temporary office space, applying for business incentives and visas, arranging utility services, accountants and networking, everything that a new foreign company will need.

In addition to that, JETRO runs on-line Trade Tie-up Promotion Program or TTPP Matching Site. Register and login, and Scottish companies can advertise their products as well as search online for import agents or potential customers, free of charge.

For those who attended the first meeting of the Cross Party Group in February , you might recall that on that occasion I have said this year of 2019 offers unique opportunity for Japan and Scotland to upgrade our cooperative relations boosted by the entry into force of Japan-EU EPA, the Economic Partnership Agreement, the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in Japan and various cultural programs and events taking place under the Japan UK Season of Culture.

I am looking forward to observing Scottish SMEs playing pivotal role in this positive move and trend.

Thank you very much for your attention.