Dotonbori Canal, Osaka.

Greater Manchester boosting Japanese ties

A delegation from Greater Manchester Combined Authority will travel to Japan later this year, as Mayor Andy Burnham and City Council Leader Bev Craig look to strengthen bilateral ties in diplomacy, innovation, and culture.

Making the journey at the beginning of December, founding members of the Greater Manchester Japan Steering Group will travel to Osaka and Tokyo to engage with political leaders, trade officials, and Japanese businesses to improve political, business, cultural, and civic links. The group will also work to establish Greater Manchester’s involvement with the World Expo (EXPO25) that will be hosted in Osaka in 2025.

Japan has been identified as a key growth area for Manchester’s international strategy, as one of the largest economies in the world. Alongside this, Greater Manchester was responsible for the exportation of £56 million worth of good to Japan in 2021, as the nation sits in the city-region’s top 10 markets for export services.

Bev Craig japan quote

Leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Lead for Economy, Business and Inclusive Growth, Cllr Bev Craig, said:

“Manchester is a city with global ambitions and to create new opportunities for our residents and businesses we must present on a global stage.

“Japan is a key growth market Greater Manchester. We’re looking forward to strengthening relationships, drawing on a long tradition of working together. 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.

“The visit is a chance to explore the benefits of collaboration resulting from the creation of the Greater Manchester Japan Steering Group. We will be showcasing our incredible strengths across low carbon, life sciences, advanced materials, academia, innovation, culture, and sport, while also emphasising growing opportunities for tourism.”

Greater Manchester’s ties with Japan date back to the 19th century, when the region played host to a group of students from Osaka that travelled to learn about the industrial revolution, and the technology that innovated the local cotton industry. This went on to boost the industrial revolution that took place in the East, with Osaka going to be known as the Manchester of the East.

In more recent years, Osaka’s engagement with Greater Manchester has brought along a three-year bilateral partnership relating to net zero, with this involving local government officials, industry, and university partners from both sides. One major milestone in this partnership saw a commitment from Japanese firm Daikin – one of the world’s largest air conditioning and heat pumps manufacturers – to help with the retrofitting of 1,000 homes in Greater Manchester.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, also commented:

“I am very pleased to be leading this mission to Japan alongside Bev Craig, Greg Clark, and the Greater Manchester Japan Steering Group.

“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. Our ties run particularly deep with Osaka, the so-called Manchester of the East, which shares many similarities with our city-region including a rich industrial and textile heritage.

“As well as numerous civic and cultural ties we have with Osaka and Japan, we have a very successful partnership with Japanese manufacturer Daikin. This partnership is already helping 1,000 homes across the city-region benefit from low-carbon retrofitting trials. Japan is a world leader in advanced energy-efficient technologies, and as Greater Manchester continues its own journey to net zero by 2038, I’m determined to see how we can further learn and collaborate with our friends and partners in Japan.”

The mission to Japan will also provide Greater Manchester leaders with the opportunity to promote the region as one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK, whilst also being the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse, and a world-class home for innovation and science.


Image credit: iStock

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