Scottish mission to Japan boosts tech, FDI and culture links

Oct. 11, 2019

Scotland Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop is in Japan to strengthen economic and cultural ties. 

Held October 7–13 across Nagasaki, Yokohama and Tokyo, the mission aims to deepen Scotland–Japan links in technology, research and the arts. It will also explore the possibility of a Memorandum of Understanding between Nagasaki University and two Scottish universities to collaborate on research and development projects and showcase the best of Scottish food and drink as part of efforts to boost exports to Japan.

Japan is an important market for Scotland. It is in the top 20 export destinations for Scotland, with a market valued at £530 million in 2017. Scotland, meanwhile, has 100 Japanese-owned businesses at 235 sites, employing 7,260 staff with a turnover of more than £1.9 billion.

Hyslop’s programme of activity, which is delivered by Scottish Development and the Scottish Government, is designed to strengthen those bilateral ties. While in Japan she has meet business and political leaders, investors, academics and tourism and cultural bodies to discuss current and future opportunities with Scotland, building on the success of her last visit in 2018. 

“I look forward to strengthening existing relations between Scotland and Japan and exploring key opportunities for collaboration between our two nations. It has never been more important to ensure that our close links continue to flourish,” she said of the mission. “The Scottish Government and its economic development agencies are actively promoting a business environment which encourages growth through partnership and co-investment with our friends in Japan.”


Bilateral sub-sea partnership

At an event in Yokohama on October 9, Hyslop announced the latest awards from a joint £16.2 million research and development fund between Scottish Enterprise and the Nippon Foundation to develop new subsea technology. Scottish and Japanese companies will receive £9 million for the innovative work which, combined with investment made by the companies involved, equate to industrial research and development worth £20.9 million.

The 12 Scottish firms involved will work with their Japanese counterparts to complete six projects from their bases in Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Coatbridge and Livingston. Work includes an £8.3 million project to develop an offshore and subsea Internet of Things infrastructure, and a £3.3 million venture to build a digital system which monitors floating structures.

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, Hyslop said the continued collaboration between Scotland and Japan in marine resource development and subsea technologies is “encouraging,” particularly as many of the projects planned “contribute directly to reducing long-term CO2 emissions.”

“The Scottish Government is committed to retaining our position as a global leader in subsea engineering: investing in our innovation infrastructure to grow Scotland's market share and supporting opportunities in other sectors,” she said.

Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of the Nippon Foundation, added that the projects selected “utilize the strengths of Japanese and Scottish technologies.”

“The theme of the second round of the joint R&D is Blue Economy, which includes not only oil and gas but also a wide range of offshore wind and fisheries fields … I hope these projects will promote multisectoral collaboration, global partnerships and develop the new ocean development market,” he said.

Scottish Enterprise and the Nippon Foundation will continue to run a joint competitive research and development fund to bring Japanese and Scottish universities and organisations together to develop innovative technology within the sector.


Investment boost for Glasgow

In the area of foreign direct investment, Hyslop met executives of top Japanese refrigeration firm Mayekawa, which announced its plans to set up a base in Glasgow. The Scottish office will support research and development as well as sales and administration for the firm’s UK and Europe division, creating 20 jobs over the next five years.

Founded in Tokyo, Mayekawa is a world leader in gas compression and refrigeration equipment offering products for the industrial refrigeration, oil and gas, and chemical processing industries. Mayekawa President Shin Maekawa said the firm hopes to increase its capability in Glasgow in parallel with growth of business in Europe.

“We have many projects to develop now, including new refrigeration products. We hope these can be progressed at our new base in Glasgow,” he said.

Hyslop said that by choosing Scotland Mayekawa joins other Japanese firms on the path to success: “A number of Japanese companies have had a presence in Scotland for many years and have gone on to celebrate further growth. Mayekawa’s new Glasgow office will stand as yet more evidence of the strong links between our two nations. We offer a perfect environment for continuous research and ground-breaking technology development through an innovative company base, world-class universities and leading innovation centres.”


Eyeing cultural promotion for Tokyo 2020

As part of work to promote Scotland’s arts sector internationally, Hyslop held meetings in Tokyo to promote cultural exchange between Scotland and Japan. She announced the Scottish Government’s £50,000 grant for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s residency at the first BBC Proms Japan. Held from October 30 until November 4 in Tokyo and Osaka, the event will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 for BBC Sounds.

As well as helping the orchestra deliver its BBC Proms Japan residency, the funding intends to increase Scotland’s profile in Japan in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

“It is a considerable honour for the orchestra to be the first to give a Proms season here to Japanese audiences for the first time,” said Hyslop of the move. “Sharing cultural experiences through events such as the Japan Proms plays an important part in fostering valuable links between our two countries.” 

Chief Conductor Thomas Dausgaard will lead the orchestra in daily concerts at the six-day festival, with a programme including core classical repertoire, British music and new music.

The cultural exchange component of the visit will see the orchestra holding interactive musical workshops in schools in Yokohama, including a mini concert with a Japanese translator and musical games designed to encourage creativity, active listening and musicianship.

Dominic Parker, director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, said the orchestra is “thrilled to be making this first visit to Japan in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s history, representing both Scotland and the BBC Proms” in a historic first.

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