I’m delighted that the JETAA website is being re-launched. Together you represent some of the best Ambassadors Japan has in the UK, and Britain has in Japan. Whenever I travel around Japan I try to meet up with JETs – up in Sendai, down in Kagoshima, in the heart of Kobe, even here in Tokyo. Also, I have plenty of people on the staff of the Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulate General in Osaka who first came to Japan with the JET scheme, and who in their hearts have never left.
This website and the JETAA community is a lifeline for those of you recently returned and experiencing the opposite of homesickness! I know so many people who have come back to the UK, but remain ready and keen to promote understanding between our two countries. We share so much; but we also lose a lot in translation, and cultural as well as linguistic interpretation is vital.
These have been exciting times for the links between Japan and the UK. Plenty of British companies in Japan, here to look at prospects related to tourism, big sporting events, retail, and pharmaceutical plus an ever increasing number of Japanese firms in the UK, who need talented and experienced British staff. There are now over 140,000 people in the UK who are employed by Japanese firms.
Upcoming events like the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, are raising the global interest in Japan, and ex-JETs have the unique skills gained from experiencing Japan at a grassroots level to get involved with all these exciting developments and contribute further to Japan-UK relations.
So do stay engaged, whether working for Japanese and British firms, supporting these big events, or just by ensuring that people know that Japan is one of Britain’s biggest partners in Asia.
I hope that I meet up with as many of you as possible, either when I’m back in the UK on my regular visits, or when you are here, or maybe in some years’ time when you become the first JET British Ambassador to Japan.
-Tim Hitchens, CMG, LVO
British Ambassador to Japan