The Japanese Local Government Centre (JLGC) was one of the many exhibitors at this year’s Local Government (LG) Group annual conference. The organisation ran a series of events and programmes for local government professionals to learn about the role of Japanese local government and share best practice internationally. We spoke to Keith Kelly, Communications Manager for JLGC, to find out his thoughts on this year’s conference.
What made you want exhibit at this year’s annual conference and what kind of promotional things did you do?
“It’s a good opportunity for us to have a discussion about aspects of public policy practice in Japan that people in the UK are interested in, as well as meeting new potential partners.
“This year, as in every year, we have exhibited and sponsored with examples of best practice from Japan including the national nursing care insurance scheme, place branding and identity policies, community budgeting and local community transport initiatives as well as others. There are plenty of common issues, such as providing support for the elderly and the provision of public services under constrained budgets where we can learn from each other’s experience.
“We held a competition to win bottles of “Koshu” wine from Yamanashi Prefecture, to people signing to our e-news letter. We have been assisting Yamanashi promote local produce entering the UK and EU market, and also produce literature on place branding relating to the prefectural governments’ policies.
“We are also recruiting for our Japan Study Tour, which will be chance for senior UK local government staff to visit our HQ and look at how we work. They can also visit Kawasaki City to get an understanding of how the city government encourages local businesses through supporting eco-technology firms and environmental regeneration.”
Did you get much interest in your stand?
“Quite a lot of interest, people are always interested (perhaps a little bemused!) to see JLGC, a non UK organisation at an event for local government. However, most people are often impressed at how Japanese local government has a international engagement initiative, how it benefits Japan’s regions in supporting trade links and the additional exchange set up on the back of it.”
What was the highlight of the conference for you?
“Our Director Noboru Fujishima said the Prime Minister’s speech and Q&A session were very impressive for Japanese staff. There isn’t really a tradition of the Japanese prime minister engaging with an audience and taking questions and answers in an informal manner, as David Cameron did. His participation was also impressive underlining what appears to be really pushing the local agenda for the UK.
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