15 March 2014

Minister Fitzgerald promoting Irish trade, investment and culture in Japan

- Meetings with leading Japanese and Irish business figures
- Building on Taoiseach’s visit last December
- Developing strong links with Japanese universities
- Strengthening cultural links between Ireland and Japan

Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D visited Japan from 15th-21st of March to join the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and enhance trade, investment and cultural links with Ireland.

Speaking of her visit to the world’s third largest economy, the Minister said: “Building on the Taoiseach's visit to Japan last December, I believe that my visit has helped to strengthen further the links between our two countries.

“While there I impressed on the Ministers and business people the progress of our economic recovery and the potential for developing trade and investment ties. I also highlighted the attractions of Ireland as a destination for Japanese students and tourists.”

Regarding her meetings with the Irish community in Japan she added:

“I was delighted to meet such a large and active Irish community in Japan and I was impressed by the level of interest in Irish music, dance and culture that I found. The work that the Irish community are doing to promote business and cultural links between Ireland and Japan is a vital part of the growing ties between our two countries.”

During the visit to Japan, Minister Fitzgerald attended over 20 official events. Details of the major events are set out below.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades
The Minister attended two St. Patrick’s Day parades in Tokyo and Yokohama as well as a St. Patrick’s Day festival in Kyoto. All together these events had more than 1,400 participants and were watched by over 20,000 people.

Irish Community and cultural events

The Minister attended the annual Emerald Ball where she joined the wife of Prime Minster Abe and Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado as the guests of honour. This event is a celebration by the Irish community in Japan and this year was attended by 305 people.

The Minster attended the first “I Love Ireland” Festival in Tokyo. There she addressed a crowd of around 2,500 people and visited the booths promoting Irish culture and business. The Minister then visited the various organisations at the festival including several companies selling Irish products, the Tokyo GAA exhibition area and the Irish Government booth. Although this was the first year of the festival it was attended by between 15,000 and 20,000 people.

Business meetings and events
During her visit Minister Fitzgerald met with a number of IDA clients including Fujitsu Labs and Fujikin. She also met with Enterprise Ireland client companies doing business in Japan including Cornes and Red Mills.

Minister Fitzgerald attended St. Patrick’s Day events organised jointly by the Embassy, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Bord Bía in Tokyo, Sapporo and Osaka. There she met with representatives of the Irish business community in Japan as well as senior Japanese business people with connections to Ireland.

The Minister also met with Hokkaido University who are developing strong links with Ireland and with ISES Japan a company who bring second level students to Ireland for language and cultural exchange.

Political meetings
On the political front, Minister Fitzgerald had meetings with Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura, Minister of State with responsibility for children Masako Mori, representatives of the Japan Ireland Parliamentary Friendship League, the Vice Governor of Osaka prefecture and the Mayor of Sapporo.