GLI at the G7 - GLI’s Cultural Exchange in Japan – a warm Welcome

By G7 Team - 26 May 2016

This year the Global Leadership Initiative at the University of Sheffield have taken a team of policy analysts to the G7 Leaders Summit, Ise-Shima, Japan. This post is part of a series of blogs, opinion pieces and policy briefings from the summit.

Media Centre - G7 Ise Shima Summit. Apparently we brought the warmth to Nagoya. On disembarking from the air-conditioned environment of the plane, our group of policy analysts was greeted by the tropical warmth of central Japan, as our arrival coincided with the first truly warm day of summer. After successfully navigating our way to the hotel in central Nagoya, and hunting down some lunch and then dinner, we finally got to close our window blinds, turn off the lights and hide from the heat and the jetlag - dozing off into well-deserved sleep in our air-conditioned hotel rooms. This is what often happens when arriving in a foreign place after a long flight; we were disoriented, tired, unable to make sense of our surroundings or fully appreciate the wonder of exploring a new place. Luckily, the students and staff of Nagoya University were about to help us find our feet and truly arrive.

Nagoya University is one of the top-ranking universities in Japan, and one of Sheffield University’s oldest sister universities in the country. Political Science Professors Tetsuki Tamura and Hiroko Takeda from Nagoya’s School of Law invited the Global Policy analysts to hold a seminar for Japanese students on the upcoming G7 summit in Ise-Shima. Navigating Nagoya’s metro system to reach the university was one of our first ventures away from the immediate vicinity of the hotel. For the Nagoya students the seminar was a chance to receive analytical insights on the topics of the summit and practice their English. The analysts on the other hand used the opportunity to test their ideas in front of an audience and overcome pre-summit nervousness and public speaking jitters. After a brief introduction to the summit by Hugo Dobson and Garrett Brown, the analysts took turns to introduce their research interests, ranging from women’s economic empowerment, to the climate, to maritime territorial disputes in the Asia Pacific. The seminar was an informative and rewarding experience for both sides, and the presentations were followed by a vivid round of questions.

The subsequent dinner was arguably even more pleasant. Together with a small group of students from the seminar, we headed to a restaurant Tamura and Takeda had rented in the neighbourhood of the university. This informal environment provided a much more equal playing field for the exchange of ideas and cultures than the seminar room. The unique and delicious Japanese-Italian fusion food that was served provides an apt metaphor for the diverse personalities and beliefs that were present, connecting with each other and sharing ideas and opinions ranging from trivialities like the weather to more serious political and social problems. Students and staff from Japan, China, Turkey, Germany, England and the U.S. used the opportunity to share their views, while enjoying oven-baked pumpkin slices, salads, tuna sashimi, Japanese beef meatballs, and chocolate cake, as well as Japanese beers, plum wines and teas. An evening of great company and entertainment left us feeling a little more at home in Japan.

G7 Team: Garrett Wallace Brown, John Casson, Rachel Claringbull, Hugo Dobson, Elliott Glover, John Jacobs, Magdalena Krakau, Gregory Stiles – Global Leadership Initiative, University of Sheffield.

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