Japan400 Press Launch

King James, the Shogun and Now: Celebrating 400 years of Japan-British Relations, 1613-2013

members of Japan400 press launch panel seated behind a table and in front of logo
Japan400 gets underway
Sue Haydock speaks at the Japan400 press launch
Susan Haydock
Yuichiro Hanyu
Timon Screech

Click each thumbnail image above to enlarge it and to read a fuller description.

You can now read the text of the presentations given at the successful Japan400 launch by clicking on the linked speakers’ names below.

Date: Thursday 10th January 2013
Time: 10:00am to 11:15am
Venue: The Mandela Room, Foreign Press Association, 25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP

Four hundred years ago this year, a ship from the East India Company from Britain reached Japan. It was carrying a telescope and other precious gifts from King James for the Shogun who in turn sent back gifts including two suits of armour (that are still preserved intact) and ten magnificent painted screens. The voyage marked the inception of what has become one of the most surprising and fruitful relationships in the world, between Britain and Japan. Remarkably, the influence from this first contact can be felt today in both countries, in industry, home and high street.

Japan400 will see special events in 2013 exploring the adventurous spirit behind those first exchanges and building on the two countries’ flourishing present-day relationship in art, science, trade, enterprise, high technology and lifestyle. Highlights of the year will include Anjin, a modern play at Sadler’s Wells Theatre about the real-life “English samurai”, William Adams, opening in late January, and a major autumn exhibition of Japanese erotic prints, known as Shunga, at the British Museum.

The Japan400 Press Launch, chaired by former BBC Tokyo correspondent William Horsley, featured a presentation by Co-Chair Timon Screech on the first diplomatic and trade contacts between the two island nations and a preview by Co-Chair Nicholas Maclean of the eye-opening events to be held to mark, celebrate and explore this special relationship.

Seijiro Takeshita of securities and investment banking firm Mizuho International , and Sir David Warren, Chair of the Japan British Society and recently British Ambassador to Japan, both gave overviews of the contemporary relationship.  Mr Takeshita spoke about the traits and facets of the UK which attracted Japanese investment and appealed for the two island nations to continue the fight against protectionism and promote “the benefits reaped from globalisation”.  Sir David described recent successes in the political and trade relationship but also stressed the wider context of exchanges in science, technology, culture and education. He spoke about a sense of “common purpose” and a strong friendship which  “ought to be celebrated”.

Looking ahead to the year of celebration, Susan Haydock, Chair of Medway Council’s Japan Group and Honorary Mayor of Yokosuka,  described Gillingham’s William Adams Festival and Medway’s wider exchanges with Japan as a “valuable and tangible expression of the importance of maintaining people to people exchanges”, a theme echoed by Yuichiro Hankyu, Director of the Japan Local government Centre in his remarks on behalf of four Japanese cities organising events to mark the 400th anniversary.  Professor Andrew Gerstle, co-curator of the British Museum’s forthcoming survey of Japanese erotic art, drew the presentations to a close with a tantalising preview of this major exhibition, one of the highlights of the year ahead.

News and Events Lists are on our Website: www.Japan400.com


[Where a name is a link, click on it to read the text of the relevant speech.]
William Horsley: Chair of the Japan400 Media Group; former BBC Tokyo correspondent (moderator)
Timon Screech: Co-chair of Japan400; Professor and Head of the School of Arts, SOAS
Nicholas Maclean: Co-chair of Japan400; Pioneer of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET)
Seijiro Takeshita: Director, Mizuho International
David Warren: Chairman of the Japan Society and former UK Ambassador to Japan (2008 – 2012)
Andrew Gerstle: Professor (SOAS) and co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum: Shunga: Sex and Humour in Japanese Art 1600-1900
Yuichiro Hanyu: Director of Japan Local Government Centre (CLAIR), London
Susan Haydock: Chair of Medway Council’s Japan Group and Honorary Mayor of Yokosuka


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