On the 16th of March 2010 the Embassy of Japan in the UK and the Japan Local Government Centre hosted the second Japan-UK Local Links Conference.
The conference provided the opportunity for local authorities in the UK who have ties with a counterpart in Japan, either as official sister-cities or more informally, to come together and talk about their past exchanges, their plans for the future and discuss important issues relating to these activities such as funding in the current economic climate and ways to emphasise the benefits of international links to local authorities looking to cut down on non-essential projects.
There were also Japan-related organisations in attendance, such as the Japan Society and the Japan External Trade Organisation, and these organisations were able to answer many queries during the conference about their work and what they can potentially offer to help support local links in the UK.
Many in attendance were there for the second time but we were also pleased to welcome some new participants as well, including the British Council and representatives of the JET Alumni Association. The conference began with a round of self-introductions during which organisations and local authorities alike were able to talk about their activities and after this the floor was opened to discussion.
The will and motivation to promote local links as something beneficial to a community when funding is short and economic issues take prevalence was one of the topics taken up during the conference. It was suggested that having a dynamic strategy which uses international relations between local authorities to bring an area out of recession could be one way to develop local links in future.
Overall, the meeting was felt by those in attendance to be beneficial and was both a source of new ideas and an evaluation of the past.
Local Authorities in Attendance:
Buckley Town Council
Edinburgh City Council
Derbyshire County Council
Peterborough City Council
Other UK Organisations in Attendance:
Local Government Association (LGA)
University of Oxford
University of Sheffield
Japan-related Organisations in Attendance:
Embassy of Japan in the UK
Japan Local Government Centre
The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO)
Japan Foundation London
Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
JET Alumni Association