POLITICAL figures will lead a delegation to Japan later this year in a bid to help boost Greater Manchester’s relationship with the Asian country.
Mayor Andy Burnham, Manchester City Council leader Cllr Bev Craig and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Japan, MP Greg Clark, will visit Osaka and Toyko from December 4 to 8.
They will be supported by a delegation comprised of founding members of the Greater Manchester Japan Steering Group.
The trip will involve engagement with political leaders, trade officials and Japanese business, with the aim of broadening and intensifying political, business, cultural and civic links.
The mission will establish Greater Manchester’s involvement with EXPO25 – the upcoming World Expo event that will take place in Osaka between April and October 2025.
It will also be an opportunity to promote Greater Manchester as a fast growing UK city-region, a world-class centre for innovation and science, and an attractive place to visit, study, invest and do business.
A number of organisations and businesses will also be taking part in the Greater Manchester mission to Japan.
The Japanese economy has been identified as a key area for growth in Greater Manchester’s international strategy.
The city region’s strong ties with Japan date back to the 19th century, with Japan in Greater Manchester’s top 10 markets for export services, with over £161 million provided in 2020.
A three-year bilateral partnership on Net Zero between Greater Manchester and Osaka has also recently been established, involving local government officials as well as industry and university partners from both sides.
A key milestone of this relationship was the commitment from one of the world’s largest air conditioning and heat pump manufacturers, Japanese firm Daikin, investing in Greater Manchester to help retrofit 1,000 homes.
Mr Burnham said: “Japan is the third largest economy in the world – bigger than the UK and Germany combined – and Greater Manchester already has significant links with the country which date right back to the 19th century.
“Just as our collaboration in that time helped to spark the Industrial Revolution in the East, we believe our collaboration today could help boost a new technological revolution based on innovation and net zero advances.”
Cllr Craig, who is Greater Manchester Lead for Economy, Business and Inclusive Growth, said: “Today’s Japan represents a significant opportunity for our city-region and the delegation will be working to create mutually beneficial links, including around green technologies which will contribute towards our goal of becoming a zero carbon city by 2038.”
Hayashi Hajime, Ambassador of Japan to the UK, said: “Since the late 19th century, we have learnt a lot from Manchester and its surrounding region – from the spinning industry to the passenger railways – and have developed them into our own form in Japan.
“This visit will not only provide an opportunity for our friends of Manchester to see the ‘present form’ of what we have learnt from the UK, but also to develop something new based on our long relationship to mutually complement and enhance our strengths, and addresses common challenges.”