How close are Japan and the United Kingdom in terms of culture and education?
Japan modelled much of its development during the nineteenth century on the United Kingdom. Japan admired what made the United Kingdom so advanced and hoped to absorb a lot of knowledge from the government.
Since this period, Japanese people have felt very close to the United Kingdom and today, Japan’s admiration for the United Kingdom includes the country’s successes in ‘soft power’.
The music of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had a huge impact on people in Japan. Japanese people are intrigued by literary works such as the stories of Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and George Orwell, to name but a few.
British movie stars were also much admired by Japanese people. Lots of Japanese students are fascinated by the idea of studying in the United Kingdom and education plays a significant role in nurturing cultural influences from the United Kingdom.
This phenomenon of interest in British culture among Japanese people also occurs in the opposite direction, with people in the United Kingdom having a strong interest in Japanese culture. Many British people are passionate about manga and anime, Japanese cuisine, literature, karaoke, origami and ‘cosplay’.
These Japanese cultural activities have cultivated affection in British people for Japan’s unique culture. The cultures of both the United Kingdom and Japan mutually influence each other and we value these cultural interests, and the education which supports them, to further strengthen the relationship between our two countries.
What is the Japan Foundation, London doing to strengthen the relationship between the two countries?
The Japan Foundation’s activities are comprised of three major fields:
- Introducing Japanese art and culture to people overseas.
- Supporting and further promoting Japanese Studies.
- Assisting Japanese language education.
These tasks are at the forefront of our activities in the United Kingdom and we are diversifying and combining these activities to make Japan better known in the United Kingdom.
We are actively involved in introducing British people to a wide variety of Japanese fine arts, both classical and contemporary, in order to share with them the essence of Japanese culture.
We help people to deepen their knowledge of Japanese history, literature, economics, politics, religion, diplomacy and much more. Part of our work is to also reinforce and strengthen Japanese Studies in higher education. In parallel with these undertakings, we also strive to promote Japanese language education overseas to help encourage communication between Japanese people and people across the globe. Our work will continue to play an essential role in connecting Japan and the United Kingdom.
Celebrating 50 years next year, what expectations do you have for the Japan Foundation’s work in 2022 and beyond?
This anniversary really is a milestone for the Japan Foundation. We have accumulated extensive knowledge, experience and expertise over the last fifty years through our tireless dedication to international cultural exchange.
Approaching this anniversary, the Japan Foundation, London is committed to using our assets and resources to provide British people with as many opportunities as we can to help them learn more about Japan.
One of the most challenging tasks in today’s society is encouraging mutual understanding amongst nations and the creation of a more harmonious and peaceful international community. The Japan Foundation plays a role in achieving these goals.
Thankfully we have the opportunity to work with valuable partners in these fields in the United Kingdom and in collaboration with our invaluable partners, we will undertake and realise more dynamic projects to create connections with one another, build trust, and nurture friendship.
In our anniversary year we will keep in mind our ambitious mission, explore opportunities, trail blaze initiatives and pave the way towards improved mutual understanding. The Japan Foundation has passion and energy and we will continue beyond 2022 in pursuit of a brighter global future.