Skip to content

Lord Howell delivers keynote speech at the Wilton Park Japan conference


By dxw

Lord Howell, Minister of State at the FCO, has a longstanding interest in Japan.  His recent conference speech affirmed the strength of our bilateral relations and looked forward to further progress and cooperation in the future.

Japan: increasing its global role?

Monday 1 – Thursday 4 November 2010 (WP1063)


Politicians, senior officials and policy makers, business people, academics and think tank representatives gathered at Wilton Park in early November to discuss Japan: increasing its global role? Lord Howell, Minister of State at the FCO, who has held a long-standing interest in and respect for Japan, made the keynote speech.


WP1063 Akiko Yamanaka, Lord Howell and Keiichiro Komatsu
Photograph taken at Wilton Park, from left to right, Akiko Yamanaka, Lord Howell and Keiichiro Komatsu


The conference discussed how Japan’s international priorities were developing after a year under the DPJ. A clear vision had not fully emerged. A number of speakers welcomed Japan’s continuing engagement on global issues such as economic security, climate change and international development. The mechanisms for a large number of bilateral, trilateral and other forums for cooperation and discussion were in place and have continued to develop.

The conference aims were:

  • to forge greater understanding and contacts  between Japan and its allies.
  • to provide an early opportunity for the new British Government, as well as policy makers from Europe and the wider world, to engage with opinion formers from Japan, itself under a relatively new administration and facing serious questions about the future focus of its international engagement.
  • to inform and encourage the development of strategies for greater  cooperation with Japan on key global challenges.

There was a sense that Japan was tending at times to insulate itself from external challenges, and fails to engage wholeheartedly with the outside world, for example on openness to foreign investment and immigration.

Dramatic power shifts in Asia have brought Japan’s relationship with China into sharper focus. The debate teased out the dichotomy of wanting good neighbourliness and solid economic progress in the region, yet an apprehension about an increasingly powerful and perhaps assertive China.

Recent regional tensions also illuminate the strengths and weaknesses in the Japan-US alliance. There was still more to be done to improve cooperation with Japan in third country environments such as Africa. Japan had significant expertise on many global issues which it could share. Japan remained a trusted and reliable ally in Asia, but her allies hoped that a greater sense of cooperation, and practical application of this, could be developed in the coming years.


WP1063 podcast
Taking part in our Podcast were (left to right) Glenn Hook, Richard Burge, Tomohiko Taniguchi, Akiko Yamanaka and Taro Kono


Further Information

Conference: Japan: increasing its global role?

William Horsley’s article on Japan’s regional role which flowed from his participation in our Japan conference (quotes used with the individuals’ permission)