One of Wales’ biggest ever trade missions to Japan will take place alongside the Rugby World Cup.
Led by First Minister Mark Drakeford, the trade mission will present the best of Welsh business, food and culture.
The centrepiece of the visit will be the Wales Dome in Tokyo.
The ambitious programme will celebrate the importance of the cultural and economic connections between the two countries and will aim to deepen links between Wales and Japan.
Japanese companies have been part of the Welsh business landscape for more than 40 years.
Welsh exports to Japan were worth almost £250m in 2018 – up 25% on 2017. Over the last five years, Wales has exported nearly £1bn of goods to Japan.
Many creative relationships have been nurtured between Wales and Japan over the last thirty years and beyond, leading to inspirational exchanges between key cultural organisations and between individual artists – all supported by strong partnerships from agencies in both countries.
These include the ongoing partnership between National Museum Wales with the Modern Art Museum of Japan; National Theatre’s work with New National Theatre Tokyo; Wales Millennium Centre’s permanent display of work by Japan’s Takumasa Ono; Focus Wales presenting Japanese bands and Ruthin Craft Centre’s exhibition of Japanese sustainable design.
North Wales is becoming increasingly popular with Japanese visitors – Conwy Castle has been twinned with Himeji Castle, which will further boost tourism.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“Wales’ current position as one of the best teams in world rugby, is a fantastic opportunity to engage with international consumers and the media as the Rugby World Cup takes place in Japan.
“The event is a major and positive platform to show what a confident and welcoming nation Wales is. Our aim is to inspire audiences around the world to choose Wales as a place to visit, invest, work and study.
“Wales is in town to do business.”
As part of an international marketing campaign – which has been supported by EU transition funding – the Welsh Government is showcasing Wales in an immersive 360-degree experience in the heart of Tokyo.
The nine-metre Wales dome, which will be at Shinjuku Station, in the heart of Tokyo, from 20 September to 3 October, will act as a focal point for the campaign to promote Wales during the group stages of the Rugby World Cup.
It will host a series of events to showcase the best of Wales, including private hospitality and public events.
The activity in Japan is part of an ongoing programme to build Wales’ profile as a place to visit, invest and work in the UK and internationally under the award-winning Cymru Wales brand.
The campaign will also target key European markets including France and Ireland, plus Australia and New Zealand.
The trade mission aims to engage people in Wales and the Welsh diaspora online to grow Wales’ online community to help share stories from Wales with the world.
The Welsh Government has been working in partnership with Wales Arts International (WAI) on the programme, which will offer Japan a chance to discover Wales and its culture.
WAI plans to promote cultural collaboration between Wales and Japan as part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.
Eluned Hâf, head of Wales Arts International, said:
“This a great chance for Wales not only to make impact in the World Cup, but to develop cultural partnerships between Wales and Japan. Culture and the arts are heart lifting and unite people. The incredible welcome in song by fifteen thousand Japanese people singing our anthem and Calon Lan at the open camp in Kitakyushu has raised the spirits of the team as well as people in Wales.”
The Welsh Government has also worked with the Wales Rugby Union on a promotional Wales film, which will be played at the Wales Dome in Tokyo.