2011/12 Kawasaki

Activities and Events

Japan Study Tour

2011 – Kawasaki

Support for Regional Industry and Economy

Participants from the 2012 Japan Study Tour to Tokyo and Kawasaki came to JLGC’s London office at the end of May to for a feedback meeting, to give opinions on the visit, with other former JST participants from previous years, as well as partners from other Japan-related offices in the UK such as the Embassy of Japan and Japan Foundation.

The Japan Study Tour is an annual programme that aims principally to promote mutual understanding between Japanese and UK local governments. JLGC invites applications from senior-level staff of British local authorities and associated bodies, to join this ten-day study tour to study the current condition and issues related to Japanese local government. Each year’s study tour focuses on the following; observing Japanese public management systems in action, studying and discussing specific services in small group sessions, and experiencing daily family life with a short homestay.

The 2012 visit looked at Japanese local authorities’ support for regional industry and economy, with a focus on Kawasaki City Government’s initiatives to promote the local eco-technology sector through environmental policy.

Sandy Muirhead (Head of Sustainability and Leisure, Spelthorne Borough Council) said of taking part in the tour to Tokyo and Kawasaki “we were made so welcome, very hospitable, they were fantastic hosts. We first of all shared information around issues of environmental and finance policies. It was interesting to see how Kawasaki City was driving forward on their environmental policies; they had an eco strategy particularly [as we had seen before] with that focus on maintaining a quality of life and using R&D to help do things better to the benefit of the environment as well as obviously making economic sense.”

Carolyn Dwyer (Director, Public Realm, London Borough of Lambeth) said “the thing that struck me most about the policies they have is that there is a very much a focus on the quality of life, they very much understand the need for to be efficient but still strive to maintain a high quality of life, whereas [in the UK] we sometimes think that one has to be at the expense of the other.”

Cllr Richard Kemp (Liverpool City Council, Vice Chair of European and International Board, Local Government Association) also said about international links at a local level “We have a very sceptical press who think any kind of visit is a holiday, and if we are beat that culture we have to understand what we need to do in linking international activity with business activity. In terms of individual councils, we are moving away from more traditional styles which would have just been the mayor going and shaking hands, which was important after World War 2. But now we want to talk to other cities, for example, Liverpool wants to talk to other port cities about the knowledge we can share and the opportunities we can share. So in fact local councils do a lot, but do it in a far more focused way now which is something I think we have to have to be aware; the intangibles are great, but I have to convince the cynical tax payer, and say what I have done which is tangible”

JST 2013 will be to Tokyo and Nagasaki Prefecture in February 2013. Accommodation, travel and food expenses in Japan during the tour will be covered by CLAIR, but participants must bear the cost of the flight between the UK and Japan. To register for more details when they are available and updates on applications please email mailbox@jlgc.org.uk