Japan’s UK Ambassador, Hayashi Hajime will pay an official two day visit to Wales starting today at the invitation of the First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS.
This will be the first time the Ambassador has visited Wales and his programme has been arranged by Welsh Government.
There are currently over 60 Japanese owned companies operating in Wales – Sony, Sharp, Toyota, to name but a few – employing over 8,400 people.
Welsh exports to Japan have risen significantly in recent years, with £1 billion worth of Welsh goods heading to Japan over the last 5 years. Welsh exports to Japan were worth more than £218 million in 2020 and imports to Wales from Japan £521 million in 2020. 3.7% of Wales’s imports come from Japan.
Some of the produce that Wales exports to Japan include: Welsh lamb, Anglesey sea salt, Carmarthen ham, Conwy mussels, Pembrokeshire early potatoes, Traditional Welsh Caerphilly cheese, Traditional Welsh cider, laver bread, Welsh beef, Welsh wine, bottled water and Welsh Whisky.
The First Minister said:
“Wales and Japan share a deep rooted friendship with strong links in trade, R&D, education and culture.
“I’m delighted to welcome His Excellency Ambassador Hayashi on his first visit to Wales. I look forward to reaffirming our commitment to the Wales-Japan relationship and discussing new and growing areas for collaboration, such as our shared ambition to reach net zero by 2050”.
Commenting ahead of the visit, Keith Dunn, OBE, Honorary Consul for Japan in Wales said:
”The Ambassador has asked to meet as many people as the COVID restrictions allow as he wishes to deepen his understanding of Welsh politics, the economy and culture. Arrangements have been made for him to have a number of face to face meetings with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, MS and the Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, MS. He will also pay a visit to Japanese factory, GS Yuasa Battery Europe Limited in Ebbw Vale, St Fagans National Museum of History and spend time visiting the Japanese Saturday School, which meets at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff. Here he will meet teachers, students, parents, volunteers and members of the Wales Japan Club.”
An already thriving partnership exists between Wales and Japan and it is possible to trace ties between us as far back as the end of the 19th century.
As the process of industrial development unfolded in Japan, the Welsh industries of coal and steel helped to foster relations between the two nations.
The Rugby World Cup in 2019 saw over 53,000 Welsh fans travel to Japan to participate in and be enthralled by the tournament. Many Japanese people supported the Welsh team and learnt to sing the Welsh National Anthem and Calon Lan as a mark of respect and support.
The eyes of the world will again be on Japan later this month when athletes from all over the world converge on its shores as Tokyo plays host to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Currently over 600 cherry trees have been planted and 200 more are set to arrive this Winter as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan to the people of Wales as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project.