The success of Welsh sport is set to encourage exports this summer when the Welsh Rugby Union and Welsh Government visit Japan to encourage business links between the two nations.
A multi-sector Welsh Government trade mission led by Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, coincides with the WRU tour. It is hoped that maximum business leverage will be gained from the presence of the RBS 6 Nations Championship winning Wales squad.
WRU group chief executive, Roger Lewis, and the WRU president, Dennis Gethin, will work alongside members of the trade mission to spread the message that Wales means business.
“We couldn’t contemplate a visit to a nation like Japan without doing our best to represent Wales to the business community as well as to the rugby fans,” said Roger Lewis.
“The WRU has a meaningful and fruitful relationship with the Welsh Government and it will be a privilege to support the Minister and her team to promote Wales and Welsh businesses in Japan.
“It is a stated mission of the WRU to take Wales to the world with our rugby and we will add to this tour by incorporating a business aspect in conjunction with the Welsh Government.
“There is a direct correlation between success for Wales on the rugby pitch, and for the WRU in business terms, to the creation of jobs and to making a positive impact on the Welsh economy.”
The main business event of the visit will be a reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo which is expected to attract 200 guests and will see Welsh products showcased to businesses from the third largest economy in the world (in GDP terms).
Japan has a population of 127.8 million, over 40-times that of Wales, and is home to some of the world’s top international brands such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Sony and Panasonic. The event, which will also be attended by the Welsh rugby team and management, hopes to reinforce the strong business links between Japan and Wales.
“We know that success for the WRU has a measurable economic impact, not just on match days with the visitors we attract to the Millennium Stadium, but on a far wider scale in terms of the impression we create of our nation around the world and the businesses we are able to attract,” said Lewis.
“Rugby has the ability to define Wales as a nation and it is sentiments like this which we will be preaching to some of the largest businesses in the world alongside the Welsh Government in Japan this summer.”
Clwb Hiraeth, a business forum founded in 1992 by senior executives of Japanese corporations who had worked and lived in Wales with their families, offers the perfect example of the work that has already done to align the two nations.
Economy Minister, Edwina Hart said: “Wales has developed strong and enduring business links with Japan over the past four decades with famous brand names such as Toyota becoming strategically important anchor companies for the Welsh economy. Today around 50 Japanese-owned businesses have created around 6,100 jobs in Wales, while exports to Japan are worth £274million to Welsh firms.
“The mission will help consolidate these links, open doors for potential new investment into Wales and support business from Wales to maximise trade opportunities in Japan.
“The support from Roger Lewis and the WRU team will be greatly appreciated during the forthcoming trade mission and rugby tour as we all work together to further strengthen the trading links between Wales and Japan. It will be a real team effort.”
The Wales squad have opened up their tour schedule to ensure Japanese business leaders get opportunities to meet players and coaches.