Brussels Days in Tokyo : celebrating 150 years of friendship between Belgium and Japan

The Brussels Days are set up as a promotion event to show the world what Brussels has to offer. This event has the goal to promote a wide range of aspects of the Brussels-Capital Region : its touristic location, its history, its economy and its relationships with the world. Organised 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 May 15th, 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 May 16 th, 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 programme for re-conquering this market, which included a seminar organised on Thursday morning by visit.brussels with around 90 participants; a seminar organised 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 emphasised 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 were 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 programmes in the Belgian capital, emphasising 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.

Two carpets of flowers inaugurated in Tokyo for the Brussels Days

To celebrate the anniversary of the first treaty of friendship, trade and navigation, signed in 1966 between Belgium and Japan, Brussels has given two carpets of flowers to the city of Tokyo. They were inaugurated in a special ceremony, in the presence of the Brussels delegation, led  by Minister-President Rudi Vervoort, Cécile Jodogne and Philippe Close, and Japanese officials, including the Governor of Tokyo and over 500 Belgian and Japanese guests. The carpets, whose patterns are taken from the carpet of flowers installed during a long weekend in summer 2004 on the Grand-Place in Brussels, represent the union of Belgium and Japan: Art Nouveau, the unmistakable symbol of Brussels, and flowers, which have great importance in Japanese culture.

The Belgian and Japanese flower festivities will be extended this summer in Brussels, where a Japanese carpet will be on view on the Grand’ Place/Grote Markt between August 12th and 15th.

Whether it was to reassure the Japanese authorities, tour operators or airlines on tourism in Brussels to organise meetings between Brussels and Japanese companies, to consolidate the partnership with Nagoya or to inaugurate the two flower carpets, the 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.
 

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