Business

Welsh leader uses first visit to Japan to flag increased exports, stronger bilateral ties

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones says he wants to export more products, especially food and beverages, to Japan and build stronger economic, business and cultural ties between the two nations.

“We are looking to be able to export to Japan and offer the people of Japan the opportunity to try what we produce,” Jones said during an interview with The Japan Times in Tokyo.

Jones, whose visit to Japan was a first for a Wales first minister, said Wales had quality produce, such as cheese, beer and whiskey, that could be promoted as premium products to Japanese consumers.

He said as small Welsh suppliers were hoping to export more goods overseas, it would provide a significant point of difference.

According to the Welsh government, exports to Japan by value increased 27 percent last year.

Meanwhile, Japan is also an important investor in Wales, with dozens of Japanese firms operating there, including Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp.

“We are very keen to work as a government with Japanese businesses to ensure that they see Wales as an important part of their operations in Europe,” Jones said, adding that the Welsh government offered a comprehensive package to support companies coming to the country, such as finance and training.

He also said Wales wanted to work more closely with Japanese travel agencies to promote tourism.

In addition, Horizon Nuclear Power, which is owned by Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd., planned to build two advanced boiling water reactors in Anglesey, an island located in the north of Wales.

Asked if the Welsh government was concerned about a nuclear accident, Jones said Wales had operated nuclear reactors for decades without major difficulties, while the plants provided many jobs. The benefits outweighed the risks, he said.

“Our geography is different. We don’t have the threat of earthquakes. We don’t have the threat of tsunami in the same way (as Japan),” he said.

The physical construction of the new plant has not started, but Horizon plans to start operations by around mid-2025.

Jones also stressed the importance of improving cultural ties with Japan, including through academic pursuits.

He said closer relationships between Welsh and Japanese universities could facilitate more student exchanges, with the current number not high.

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