UK-Japan Global Seminar 2015 “The Future of Capitalist Democracy: UK-Japan Perspectives”

London, United Kingdom

I am delighted that The Nippon Foundation is a partner in this UK-Japan Global Seminar Series along with Chatham House and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Chatham House, the organizer, represented here today by its Director Dr. Robin Niblett.

I would like to thank the Japanese Ambassador, His Excellency, Mr. Keiichi Hayashi for being with us this morning and for delivering a keynote speech for us. The Japanese Embassy has been very supportive of this project since its very beginning and has given us their kind cooperation.

I should also like to extend a warm welcome to the Earl of St. Andrews, Chairman of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and to its Board members from both the UK and Japan.

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation was established in 1985 with the objective of strengthening mutual understanding between Japan and the United Kingdom, nurturing leaders who are capable not only of building bridges between our two countries but also of addressing global challenges within a larger framework. It is therefore important and appropriate that the two foundations are collaborating with Chatham House towards the common goal of exploring how our two countries can work together more effectively in addressing the ever growing global challenges of today.

The first two UK-Japan Global Seminars debated in depth a selection of multifaceted issues with speakers of differing views. They have been instrumental in laying a strong foundation for future discussion at our remaining three seminars and indeed, beyond them.

This year is the third year in the seminar series and the general theme chosen is, “The Future of Capitalist Democracy: UK-Japan Perspectives.” The topics selected for discussion in the six sessions are wide and varied. All of them are attractive themes and, are all critical issues that meet the objectives upon which we founded this UK-Japan Seminar series. Even more, perhaps, than in the preceding two seminars it will prepare the path for us to follow in order to help bring about a more stable and healthy world. I am sure that the speakers gathered here will share their individual experiences and expertise and inspire us to greater insights.

We expect this series of seminars to be a response to the current and increasingly complex challenges facing society worldwide. But in a rapidly changing global environment, both the UK and Japan, like all other countries, also face their own domestic challenges. For example, it is the individual responsibility of Japan to solve problems such as governance, security, and demography, to name but a few. The common aspiration of the UK-Japan Global Seminar of making a contribution to the world will always remain our ultimate goal but in order to achieve it we must simultaneously attend to our domestic problems and extinguish any dangerous elements before they spread to other parts of the world.

We do not have much time before we pass the world on to the next generation. If we think of ourselves as marathon runners, this year marks the half-way stage of the UK-Japan Global Seminar marathon. I am certain that our world is still fraught with many problems to solve and discussion is of course very important but I believe it is also time for us to begin preparing for dissemination to the wider world of the results of our work over five years, and to put our words into action.

It is my wish that we can continue to run the second half of our UK-Japan Global Seminar marathon together to the finish line, and that it will bring positive and worthwhile benefit to society at large.