Japanese PM encourages strong links with the birthplace of the game
A visit promoting the birthplace of the game of rugby to Japan, hosts of Rugby World Cup 2019, has reached the top with an informal meeting with Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.
Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, met Mr Abe during the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw, which they were both attending as guests of World Rugby.
During the meeting Cllr Stokes highlighted Rugby's historical connections with the game and its status as home to the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
The meeting took place as part of a wider trip promoting Rugby as a visitor destination to Japanese markets. Adam Norburn, Executive Director of Rugby Borough Council, also attended.
The promotional trip has also included a formal meeting with Mr Daisaku Kadokawa, the Mayor of Kyoto, that was covered by local and national Japanese media.
In other meetings Cllr Stokes and Mr Norburn have had promising discussions with Mr Shimazu, the President and CEO of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee and Mr Nishisaka, the Executive Director, along with the Mayors and Governors of Japan 2019 Host Cities.
These meetings were aimed at promoting the birthplace of the game at Tournament host cities and Fanzones.
Cllr Stokes said: "It has been a privilege to be able to represent and promote the borough of Rugby in Japan, particularly in Kyoto, which has so much in common with Rugby.
“The numerous meetings have enabled us to make connections which would not have been possible without this visit, and many of Japan’s Host Cities have made it clear they are looking to Rugby as an example of how to create a successful Fanzone and visitor experience in a World Cup year.
“Of course, the highlight of the trip was meeting with Prime Minister Abe who thanked me for attending and hoped that Rugby can forge stronger links with his country to further promote all we have to offer with regards to the sport of rugby.”
It is estimated that the visit will cost Rugby Borough Council less than £5000. Cllr Stokes and Mr Norburn are guests of World Rugby and are attending meetings brokered by the Japan Local Government Centre.