TOKYO, Japan – For the Brussels Days that took place from 15 to 20 May, a delegation travelled to Tokyo and Nagoya. There were official meetings with local officials and seminars with tourism professionals and companies of all kinds. It was also an occasion to celebrate 150 years of friendship between Belgium and Japan and to reaffirm our mutual intention to continue this excellent relationship at all levels.
The event ended on Thursday evening at the inauguration of the Belgian Beer Weekend, a few kilometers from the Japanese capital.
Organized each year in a different city, the aim of the Brussels Days is to promote everything the capital of Europe has to offer, including tourism, investment, technology and professional hosting.
The Tokyo Brussels Days opened with an official meeting in the city of Nagoya, which is a little less than two hours by train from the Japanese capital. Nagoya has a commercial district that has been twinned with Brussels’ Louise district since August 2015.
On the morning of Monday 15 May, Secretary of State Cécile Jodogne met local officials to discuss this successful partnership. It was also an occasion for the President of the shopping areas committee to offer his support in the face of the painful events that have occurred in Brussels and to assure us of his willingness to continue the partnership, as well as to encourage the inhabitants of Nagoya to travel to Belgium.
After these heart-warming words, the replica of the Manneken Pis, which was given to the city last August when the twinning became official, was presented with a costume, the first in a long series, representing the uniform of the Brussels fire brigade.
In the evening the delegation led by Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, received the Belgian ambassador. A number of companies and official Japanese representatives were also invited.
On Tuesday the 16th, Cécile Jodogne chaired a seminar on the topic of “Women in Business” and led the discussions between women executives of companies in Tokyo and Brussels. At the same time, the Minister-President met the chairman and managing director of the Japanese travel agency association. During the interview, references were made to the security measures put in place by the different Belgian authorities to ensure the safety of foreign visitors, and in particular those implemented at the airport and on the Brussels Metro. It was also the occasion for the presentation of the definitive program for re-conquering this market, which includes a seminar organized on Thursday morning by visit.brussels with around 90 participants; a seminar organized by the three regional tourist offices on 1 July 2016; the promotion of Europe as a destination at the biggest Japanese tourist fair, with representatives from other European capitals; and the participation of Brussels in the royal visit to Tokyo in October. The President thanked the Brussels delegation for travelling to Japan. He emphasized the importance of this visit and reaffirmed his wish and determination to send Japanese customers to Belgium very soon.
Between the two meetings, the delegation visited the Satsu Gallery, where the works of the Belgian artist Patrick Gerola are on show. The artist himself was present.
While the 22 companies accompanying the mission were meeting with Japanese companies, Cecile Jodigne attended a meeting with the director of Mizuho Bank. Its purpose was to define the bank’s investment priorities in Brussels.
At the end of the afternoon, the Minister-President and Ms Jodogne met with the managing director of Sony. The Brussels delegation discussed their investments in Brussels, especially Softkinetik and Memnon, job creation programs in the Belgian capital, emphasizing the dynamism of Belgian’s technology SMEs and affirming their intention for the region to continue to support and perpetuate this development.
On Tuesday evening, the delegation had the privilege of attending the first concert in the national tour of the internationally renowned pianist Jun Kanno, who is a regular guest of the Belgian Royal Conservatory. The music accompanied the showing of the documentary “Snake Dance” by Brussels director Manu Riche.
On the penultimate day, there were meetings and seminars with a number of companies, notably in the areas of clinical trials, construction and architecture, before the much-anticipated inauguration of two flowered carpets.
On the last evening, Alderman of Tourism of the City of Brussels Philippe Close unveiled the project Belgian Beer Palace, scheduled for 2019 in the building of the former Brussels Stock Exchange. The guests, among them travel agents, tour operators and Japanese brewers, were very enthusiastic and receptive. The presentation took place in a symbolic place, as it was at the same time the inauguration of the Belgian Beer Weekend in Yokohama, a particularly popular Japanese festival, organized since 2009 by Belgian expatriates.
Whether it was to reassure the Japanese authorities, tour operators or airlines on tourism in Brussels to organize meetings between Brussels and Japanese companies, to consolidate the partnership with Nagoya or to inaugurate the two flower carpets, Brussels Days Tokyo were successful in all aspects. The presence of the delegation, led by Minister-President Rudi Vervoort, Secretary of State Cécile Jodogne and Alderman of Tourism of the City of Brussels Philippe Close, was highly appreciated by the Japanese authorities, and allowed to confirm the official friendship that has lasted for 150 years between Japan and Belgium.