A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the Innovation is Great event, Tokyo, Japan


I can barely think of another country on earth which pays so much reverence to its ancient customs whilst also being so outwardly modern.

Minna sama. Konichi-wa.

Thank you very much for the warm welcome.  If I may, I would like to start with a word of thanks for the very warm welcome I have received so far in Japan.

I was immensely honoured to have been received by Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress earlier today, and to have met The Crown Prince and Crown Princess afterwards.   My grandmother, The Queen, has very happy memories of her visit here in 1975, and I know that we were all deeply touched as a family when The Emperor and Empress visited Windsor Castle in 2012 to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, just months after His Majesty’s stay in hospital.  It was an enormously generous gesture, and hugely appreciated.

I am only sorry that Catherine and George cannot be here in Japan this time, but I know that she looks forward to visiting Japan in the future.  I know that she is following my visit here closely, and would have me pass to you all her warmest greetings.

In just 24 hours so far in Japan, I have had a chance to experience the blend of ancient and modern which so characterizes this amazing country.  I can barely think of another country on earth which pays so much reverence to its ancient customs whilst also being so outwardly modern. 

Of course, the United Kingdom, too, is known as a place where the ancient and modern co-exist very comfortably alongside one another.  The United Kingdom and Japan have a great deal in common, and our links with one another go back centuries.  The first British national, Will Adams known here as Miura (MEEURA) Anjin arrived on Japanese shores 415 years ago, and spent the rest of his life teaching the Japanese shoguns maritime skills.  I am sure that he learned just as much from them!

As two nations, we have been learning from each other ever since. At the end of the nineteenth century, Japan imported a great wave of technology and practice from the United Kingdom, from railways to whisky.  In the second half of the twentieth century, and into this, the exchange has been more two-way.  Britain’s car, train and nuclear industries are reviving, and becoming world-beating, thanks to Japanese investment from Hitachi, Nissan and many others.  Our experiences of running the London Olympics and Paralympics are being actively shared with those here preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.  I have no doubt that these will be a great success.

The United Kingdom has a proud track record of giving the world life-changing products and designs from the internet to the hypodermic syringe.  And we have a long track record of opening our doors to entrepreneurs from overseas entrepreneurs like the three Japanese winners of the UK Tech Awards, who I am about to meet, and who will visit Britain next month to understand for themselves how their businesses can benefit from what the United Kingdom has to offer.

It's in that spirit of collaboration and a shared history that I am proud to open the Innovation is GREAT campaign here in Tokyo.  

Thank you for joining us here today.

Arigato gozaimas.