Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Time for UK Meiji reform with Japan. Now more than ever with Brexit.

If I sit up and take notes when the South Korean Ambassador to ASEAN cites ways to improve the economy as per my previous article, then that’s x100 in terms of attention when Japan’s Foreign Office raises concern over Brexit.

Japan’s MOFA has published a 15 page report on its concerns over Brexit from extensive discussions with the 1,000 Japanese companies in UK.

A source of 440,000 jobs and innovative companies such as Kent’s Hitachi at Ashford and HS1 (also the latest contract for SouthWest trains increasing orders for carriages with Bombardier etc) and Kent’s Fujifilm in Broadstairs.

And Sunderland’s Nissan factory producing more cars than the entire Italian automotive industry. And Honda and Toyota in the Midlands keeping UK industry on track.

The Japanese Ambassador in UK also took the unusual step c.3 years ago to raise concerns over any potential Brexit. So a 15 page memo issued around the G20 Summit is a major concern for UK plc.

And the points are all fair ones.

Much as you’d expect from the world’s 3rd largest economy and with over 50% of Japanese investment in EU being centred in UK. And UK being explicitly cited as the entry point to the EU for their larger Japanese conglomerates such as Nissan.

So for UK to consider Brexit is unbelievably silly.

Concerns over Japanese passports and visas. Concerns over UK and EU employees in Japanese businesses. Concerns over EU and UK tariffs in manufacturing.

Concerns over Japanese headquarter buildings being relocated to the EU. And then the manufacturing sites.

And so on.

Anyone but the most fanatical 52%Leaver would be concerned.

And it’s concerning that the Japanese government has put the spade-work in over the Summer to detail many of the Brexit problems and issues. Yet not a dicky-bird from the UK government supposedly defining what Brexit means Brexit means.

I don’t believe MP’s or PM's should be criticised for going on holiday – but in the teeth of the Great Recession and Brexit and collapse of parties and leaders, it seems incredible Parliament shut up shop for the Summer. With nothing done on Brexit.

While even what’s left of the Leave group that haven’t resigned, don’t have any idea themselves what they were calling for beyond kneejerk racism and Farage grunting from the saloon bar.

Frankly, Japan should be laughing at Britain rather than issuing detailed points on reform.

My MP campaign for Meiji reforms in UK, as Japan routinely and effortlessly puts in place, is vindicated by this 15 page memo and needs to be intensified.

We should listen more to Japan.

And in particular in East Kent we should be very concerned at any plans to relocate the European Medicines Agency - potentially relocating from London when many of the Japanese pharmaceutical companies specifically chose London as their European base because of the EMA.

With huge pharma sites at Discovery Park in Sandwich and Sittingbourne Science Park to fill, with pharma and STEM companies rather than empty-headed housebuilding, Kent should echo these concerns raised by Japan’s MOFA and consider:

• Delineating Hitachi work on HS2 and HS3 and a UK-ASEAN team with JapanRail in London to deliver ASEANRail.
• Re-establishing a JICA coordination office in London or Brussels to work on humanitarian projects such as the innovative Kawasaki demining vehicles and DIFD and EU HALO work – especially given the Obama Laos visit
• Develop Fujifilm in Broadstairs activity
* Expanding the Will Adams Shogun celebrations in Gillingham
• Fill Discovery Park to the brim with Toshiba, Tokio Marine, Mitsubishi etc and vaccine RandD and production and Shiseido and Ashford’s Givaudan linkups
• Establish Kent Tourism links with Japan Airlines and Tourism Board through to Tokyo2020
• Develop the Benelux strategy with Panasonic batteries in Belgium, and even Panasonic and Holland’s Philips and DNA bathroom mirror development
• Revive the 21st Century Japan Group based in Kent and Kent Uni
• Tie in links with the Japan Local Government Association and KCC/Locate in Kent Council
• Define the Japanese food culture as part of KORA, and sushi and sake sales in Kent
• Creating a TeamAutoJapan as part of dynamic Business Minister Kent’s Greg Clark MP to define specific auto and autoparts projects in UK – the Vauxhall Zafira fires scandal and parliamentary inquiry highlighting how the auto industry has no system for sharing car defects quickly and easily
• Grasp with both hands the opportunity for the dynamic Japan Foundation’s cultural and education work – such as Japanese language learning in primary schools, Japan filmmaking an Studio Ghibli retrospectives and animation around Kawaii Culture such as Godzilla or Hello Kitty or Doraemon

All the latter part of the East Kent film tradition of SME small films and Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog, and Aaardman animation now celebrating 40 years of animation etc, which are massive UK exports for the Creative Industries, and potential for my EK Film Office and Studio project.

And if the wheels are already coming off Brexit then we don’t want them to come off the extensive and excellent Japanese car and railbuilding and autoparts industries in East Kent and beyond.

Rather, we should be urging Konnichiwa Kent for Meiji reforms not Saying Sayonara for Japanese investment after the Brexit silliness of the summer.

Time for Change

• Good that the Calais Mayor and KCC are calling for a Calais Metro rail service between East Kent and Calais/Lille – but 5 years rather than 5 weeks when the carriages exist and some timetable tweaks?
• Nice to see Jeremy Corbyn at the Ramsgate Eastcliff Bandstand ahead of the Kent Police Brass band The Blue Blowers and Sgt Pepper 50th anniversary – and not the first nice old gentleman having to do his business on the train floor because the facilities were reserved
• Corbyn’s £30BN pledge for Kent is of course utter nonsense – but nice of him to raise the East Kent debate and bandstand repairs with £2BN KCC funding etc etc
• Thor mercury scandal as bad as the horrifying BBC Panorama Sellafield programme last night
• Railway Man Kwai movie on TV tonight worth seeing – beautiful cinematography on Hellfire Pass scenes - and a superb Australian memorial museum in Kanchanaburi
• Fab that UK Laos has the first Lao Post office postage stamp designed by a Brit (I haven’t seen the design as yet) or any foreigner – Great British Post Office and Kent’s Orchids.

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