Japan-Uk Symposium heralds Expo2025, Osaka, Kansai, Japan

The Embassy of Japan in London hosted the Japan-UK Symposium on Tuesday 16 April 2024.  Organised by the IoD Japan Business Group, the event focused on business and investment opportunities heralded by Expo 2025 in Osaka, Kansai, Japan Business leaders, government officials, and political figures from both nations attended and engaged in discussions focussing on cooperation and mutual growth.

Addressing the symposium, Dr Indranil Nath, Chair of the IoD Japan Business Group, acknowledged the support of its partners whose contributions were instrumental to the symposium’s success. Partners included Sayuri, Yakult, Suntory, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the Japan Atomic Energy Association (JAEA), Department of Business and Trade GovUK, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Gov.UK, Embassy of Japan in the UK, ES Global Limited and Vertical Aerospace.

“We are excited to host the Japan-UK Symposium and welcome the Osaka World Trade Mascot, 'Myaku Myaku', to the United Kingdom," said Dr Nath. "This event is a fantastic opportunity for leaders and investors to explore the vast potential that Expo 2025 offers for strengthening business ties between our two great nations.”
Dr Indranil Nath
Chair, IoD Japan Business Group

Kyoichiro Kawakami, Minister (Economic) at the Embassy of Japan, welcomed guests with opening remarks, followed by a keynote speech from Greg Clark MP Trade Envoy to Japan. Mr Clark highlighted recent UK-Japan business engagements and shared insights from his visits to Osaka and interactions with the Japanese business community. Karen Maddock, Head of the Northeast Asia Department at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office GovUK, elaborated on strengthening bilateral relationships.

A special presentation was made by Rie Hamaguchi, Special Advisor to the Governor of Osaka Prefectural Government and Vice Chair of the IoD Japan Business Group, whosaid: “153 countries and more than 28 million visitors are expected to participate in Osaka, Kansai which will showcase the ongoing construction of 14 pavilions at the Expo site on Yumeshima, an island poised to become a hub for international business and leisure by 2030.”

Olly Watts, Joint-CEO of ES Global Limited, revealed the design of the UK pavilion for Expo 2025, which is set to be a benchmark of innovative architecture. Andrew Main, ambassador of the IoD Japan Business Group, detailed plans for an IoD member delegation visit to Osaka and Tokyo in 2025.

Katherine Merryweather from the Department of Business and Trade GovUK discussed UK-Japan collaborations in third-country infrastructure projects, highlighting recent partnerships and £17.7bn of Japanese investments in the UK. She said: “We believe Expo 2025 Osaka will further enhance bilateral relations. The UK brings activities and front-end services such as project design, planning, consulting, and sustainable approaches to long-term infrastructure solutions. It complements Japanese capabilities, especially in international contracting. Renewable energy, smart cities, and sustainable transport are the focal areas of our bilateral cooperation, providing enormous opportunities for third-country collaboration.”

The event concluded with remarks from Honourable Ambassador Hajime Hayashi, who introduced the Expo’s theme, ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives’, and envisioned Osaka as a testing ground for future societal innovations. The programme closed with addresses from Lord Offord of Gravel CVO Expo Minister GovUK; Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the IoD; Honourable Hanako Jimi, Minister of the World Expo 2025, Government of Japan and Honourable Hirofumi Yoshimura, Governor of Osaka Prefectural Government, Japan. Alderman Alastair King DL and former Sheriff Chairman of Nisbett Assets Management Ltd gave the vote of thanks.

‘Myaku Myaku’, the popular mascot of Expo 2025, marked its first visit to the UK by attending the symposium, symbolising the growing friendship and cooperation between the UK and Japan  and highlighting the cultural and economic significance of the upcoming Expo. The event showcased the UK Pavilion and a flying car model, symbolising the upcoming Expo’s innovative spirit.

Authors: Dr Indranil Nath, Chair; Rie Hamaguchi, Vice Chair; Dr Yildiz Kara, Ambassador (Research) of IoD Japan Business Group and the volunteering team.

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