Call for Wales to boost its profile in Japan ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup

(Title Image: bandt.com.au)

Thinking Global

Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) asked about the Welsh Government’s international strategy and, in particular, reaching out to the Welsh diaspora – with an estimated 10 million people of Welsh descent in the United States alone. Did these activities need to be government-led? Would the Welsh Government consider building a presence at UK Foreign Office facilities and/or bidding for events to boost our global profile – such as the Commonwealth Games?

Although the Minister was reluctant to “step on the toes” of organisations already doing this work she broadly agreed but, as usual, it comes down to resources:

“What is clear is that we are recognised in different markets very differently. So, areas where there is a big rugby tradition, we’re pretty well known, but there are other areas and parts of the world where we have very little in terms of common historical background. Those are the areas that are much more difficult to access, which is why, I think, we do need to go back to the diaspora. But I think we need to recognise we will not be able to do everything with a limited budget.”
– Minister for International Affairs & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales)

The Minister mentioned the Welsh Government’s 20 overseas offices, many of which were said to be co-located with the UK Foreign Office. Again, whether Wales bids for a Commonwealth Games or alike would come down to money.

Boosting Wales-Japan ties

With the 2019 Rugby World Cup just a few months away, Shadow External Affairs Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), asked about Wales-Japan ties – offering his congratulations to the recently-enthroned Emperor Naruhito. An estimated 6,500 jobs in Wales are dependent on Japanese investment and he asked what could be done to build upon the already good Wales-Japan relations – even suggesting inviting the Emperor to Wales.

The Minister said the Japanese ambassador to the UK will be visiting Wales for two days in June and a lot was already happening elsewhere:

“We’re not waiting until the World Cup; we are already bouncing into those markets now. I know that (Environment Minister) Lesley Griffiths is doing a huge amount of work in terms of promoting food and drink in Japan. So….what we’ll be doing now is to really work out exactly what we are trying to achieve during the World Cup, because this is a launch pad, not just for Japan, but for the broader Asian community as well.”
– Minister for International Affairs & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan

What the Minister didn’t want to do was to go around signing “memorandums of understanding” with every single nation for friendship reasons; she actually wants real outcomes.

Discussions ongoing on where to put National Football Museum

Following a recent announcement that the proposed National Football Museum will be based in Wrexham, Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) continued to make the case for The Racecourse; at the moment, the desired location is Wrexham Museum. He also asked whether it would become part of the National Museum umbrella?

“Are you proposing that this becomes part of the National Museum Wales or an arms-length organisation? And how will this impact on the physical provision within Wrexham Museum – a great museum, but quite small in size? So, are you considering relocation or enlargement or how might you address this?”
– Mark Isherwood AM

Deputy Minister for Culture, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd), said discussions were still ongoing with Wrexham Museum and Wrexham Council on where the football museum would precisely go. He added there was a broader vision that major local and regional museums are supported by the National Museum and also that places hosting national exhibitions are of sufficient quality to be able to receive them; this could mean further investment at the likes of Wrexham Museum.

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