Activities and Events
Japan Study Tour
2012 – Nagasaki
Participants from the 2013 Japan Study Tour to Tokyo and Nagasaki came to JLGC’s London office at the beginning of March 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, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the UK and Japan National Tourism Organisation.
The 2013 visit looked at Japanese local authorities’ support for regional industry and economy, with a focus on Nagasaki City and neighbouring authorities such as Goto City and Hirado City, working in partnership on Nagasaki Prefecture’s Green New Deal initiatives for urban regeneration. Participants made the following comments and reflections:
Kristen Paterson, Sevenoaks District Council: “I was impressed with the holistic approach taken by Japanese Local Authorities to improving the quality of life of local people. We saw projects such as the regeneration of the Nagasaki Port area and the provision of rental electronic vehicles for tourists on Goto Island. These projects will attract more tourists growing the economy, provide new jobs with which to help young people find work in their local area, as well as being ‘green’ solutions that will improve the quality of the environment. The tour was an intensive series of presentations, visits to see projects on the ground, and exchanges of views with our Japanese hosts. It was hard work, but extremely valuable in terms of shared learning and generating ideas to take back to the UK.”
Hannah Fearn, Guardian Local Government: “What impressed me about Nagasaki Prefecture’s team is the ambition and commitment to a new vision for the city and the local economic area. This is not something I see regularly in my work looking into local government practice over here, potentially because of the negative relationship between central and local government which can leave British councils feeling powerless to act. I reflected on these tensions in my article for the Guardian, which itself received some interesting responses. Members of the Guardian local government network agreed that the Nagasaki green deal could be a template for economic growth strategies in city regions across Britain, particularly in the north.”
Jonathan James, Cambridge City Council: “The overwhelming impression of Nagasaki prefecture is one of a forward-thinking prefecture with a real passion and commitment to investment in the future. The sense of civic pride and respect for its officials and the work it is undertaking is a credit to Japanese society. There are significant future social problems with population decreases both nationally but specifically for Goto Island and Nagasaki prefecture as a whole. However, the prefecture is facing these concerns and challenges head-on to develop and grow both inward and external investment. Nagasaki prefecture is definitely not resting on its laurels but striving to grow its tourism and develop its economic trade. This is echoed by the significant efforts to attract people from all over the globe for cruise ships stays especially as Nagasaki has probably one of the prettiest harbours in the entire world.
The 400th anniversary of the establishment of British Trading Post in Hirado reinforced the close links with the UK. There is a huge potential to rekindle significant tourism and interest in Hirado and Nagasaki prefecture as a whole. Historical figures like William Adams are the sort of thing that spark the imagination of people and I think are key to attracting tourists and future economic growth for the area.
Finally I found the visit to Peace Park very sobering but reminded me that out of significant disasters a society can bounce back stronger with a real resolve to develop itself. For example, the Green New Deal in making Nagasaki at the forefront of experimental enterprises is a fantastic opportunity and for me echoed strongly with Cambridge and its world-renowned status for technology advancement.”
Elaine Robertson, Aberdeen City Council: “I was particularly interested in the innovative renewable energy projects being developed in Nagasaki Prefecture, such as the floating wind turbine, and the way electric vehicles are being used to promote tourism. I found much common ground with Aberdeen, Europe’s energy capital, and am looking forward to exploring avenues for continued co-operation. I was also very encouraged by how open Japanese local government was, and found the whole experience inspiring and invaluable. I am very grateful to have had this intensive learning opportunity and would strongly urge other UK local authority officers and elected members to apply for a place on the Tour.”
Charlotte Eisenhart, Local Government Association: “The Japanese study tour gave us a wealth of interesting and useful insights and learning. All the way from the relationship between local and central government, to a regional model of delivering economic growth in Nagasaki Prefecture, through to local initiatives to encourage green living and tourism on Goto island. Covering such a range of topics was challenging, with a packed agenda, but thoroughly rewarding. The people we met were all very welcoming and we learned a great deal from them. In particular, I took the most from the times when we were able to have frank and honest exchanges with our hosts and learn about the tensions and challenges – that often felt very familiar to our own”
Paul Wheeler, Political Skills Forum: “As someone who works with local politicians in England what was apparent is the high regard for local government and local politicians in Japan. It means they have much more ability to influence the future of their communities than their counterparts in England. I was particularly impressed by the plans of Nagasaki Prefecture to develop a tourism industry based on their fascinating Christian heritage and their ambition to become a leading cruise ship destination. There are some interesting parallels in how several industrial cities in England want to re-invent themselves as service-based local economies. On a personal note, I would like to import heated toilet seats to England!”
Cllr Tim Ward, Cambridge City Council: ”The tour was extremely well organised and managed, with an excellent service being provided by all those who were involved in looking after us, including the various interpreters we met at the different points of the tour. The talks were given at breakneck speed with considerably more on each slide of the presentations than we were used to. However in my view this was exactly the right way to use the time, as the issues and solutions were familiar to us – we weren’t trying to learn the basics of local government from these talks, we were wanting to discover the differences and similarities between the UK and Japanese experiences. We had lectures on electric cars at three levels – central government level in Tokyo, prefecture level in Nagasaki and local level on the Goto Islands. We were impressed with how thoroughly this agenda was being followed at all levels, from central government negotiations with car manufacturers down to local initiatives such as the provision of electric cars for tourists on the Goto Islands.”