Aberdeen-Japan links to be strengthened by council

The statue of Fraserburgh-born Thomas Blake Glover in Nagasaki. Picture: Complimentary
The statue of Fraserburgh-born Thomas Blake Glover in Nagasaki. Picture: Complimentary
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A NEW strategy to strengthen Aberdeen’s links with Japan will be announced tomorrow at the family home of Thomas Blake Glover - the “Scottish Samurai.”

It was revealed last month that Braehead House, the Victorian mansion in Aberdeen’s Bridge of Don where the entrepreneur once lived, is set to be saved by the city council and transformed into a major tourist destination and economic hub for Aberdeen.

Glover is revered throughout Japan as one of the founding fathers of modern Japanese industry and his home in Nagasaki attracts an estimated two million visitors each year.

Councillor Ross Thomson, a Conservative member of the city council’s coalition administration, welcomed the establishment of the new Japanese link strategy. He said: “I am very proud of the important historical relationship between Aberdeen and Japan, especially with the city of Nagasaki.

“I believe that forging closer links through trade, education, culture and sport could bring substantial mutual benefits. For example, Japan is investing heavily in the development of renewable energy, and with the UK oil and gas sectors diversifying into this field, the opportunities for co-operation are huge.”

Alex Johnstone, the North east Conservative MSP and convener of the Cross Party Group on Japan in the Scottish Parliament, said: “This initiative has the potential to deliver substantial benefits across a broad economic and cultural spectrum.”

“The North east is in an excellent position to deliver a unique product to the Japanese market. We have excellent trading opportunities, two world leading universities in the city, along with high quality products such as golf and whisky.”

He added: “A comprehensive strategy that recognises the importance of the relationship between Aberdeen and Japan could not only bring about economic success, but also play a major role in developing greater friendship and mutual understanding between Scotland and Japan.”

Glover, who died in 1911, was the principal adviser to the fledgling Mitsubishi company and played a major role in laying the foundations for the corporation’s rise to economic superpower status.

He built the first warships for the Japanese Navy and was showered with awards, becoming an honorary samurai. His Japanese wife, Tsuru, is also believed to have been the inspiration behind Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly.