What role does The Japan British Society play in connecting the United Kingdom and Japan?
The Japan-British Society has been promoting the Cherry Tree Planting Project in the United Kingdom together with the Japan Association in the United Kingdom since 2017. This was welcomed by the Prime Ministers of both countries from its grassroots beginning and was part of the Japan-United Kingdom ‘Season of Culture’.
The Japan British Society has played a role in raising funds necessary for the project from Japanese corporations. Many Japanese corporations have decided to generously donate to this project as a symbol of reaffirming the history of a long friendship between the two nations and expressing the intention of the respective citizens to further develop this friendship regardless of political or economic situations.
We are now facing unprecedented challenges with the prolonged uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions around the world. I hope that the friendship of the Japanese people represented by the more than 6,000 cherry trees planted throughout the country will resonate with the British people every time the cherry blossom season arrives in the future.
The Japan-United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which was signed in October last year, brings about a new framework for trade and investment with the United Kingdom as a replacement for the Japan-EU EPA after Brexit.
The Agreement will not only enable Japan to maintain access to the United Kingdom market as determined by the Japan-EU EPA but stipulate more advanced and higher-level rules than the Japan-EU EPA in areas such as e-commerce and financial services.
I pay particular attention to the financial services sector for two reasons. First, Tokyo agreed with the City of London to exchange and collaborate in the financial services space in an attempt to become an international financial centre. Second, sustainable finance is expected to play a crucial role to attain decarbonization, which is one of the most important issues on the global agenda.
We hope that Japan will be able to participate in the promotion of sustainable finance, green finance in particular, and play an active role in collaborations with the United Kingdom, which hosts COP26 this year.