Minister visits University of Birmingham on cultural mission

Professor Tim Softley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer welcomes Shinichi Iida, Minister for Public Diplomacy and Media to the University of Birmingham.

A top Japanese diplomat visited the University of Birmingham to explore how its research staff and students might support a high-profile cultural initiative aimed at strengthening links between the UK and Japan.

Shinichi Iida, Minister for Public Diplomacy and Media at the Embassy of Japan in the UK, met a number of academic staff with an interest in Japan to discuss the upcoming Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.

Mr Iida was welcomed to the University by Professor Tim Softley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer. The Minister met a number of academics with research interests in Japan ranging from molecular chemistry and migration to philosophy and corpus linguistics.

Professor Softley commented: “I am delighted to welcome our distinguished guest to the University of Birmingham and explore how we can support the ‘Japan-UK Season of Culture’ across the West Midlands region and beyond.

“Japan is a very important strategic partner for both the University and the UK. The University of Birmingham has strong research links with a number of top institutions, most notably Waseda University in Tokyo with whom we enjoy a special relationship.

Mr Iida was accompanied at the roundtable by First Secretary Hayato Sunaga. He outline plans for the Season of Culture, which will deliver a series of events running alongside the Rugby World Cup, Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The aim of the season is to promote Japanese culture in the UK and British culture in Japan. There are four main themes: Disability Sport; Future Generations; Designing a Society for the Future; and Washoku (Japanese food).

Mr Iida commented: “The Season of Culture is not an event. It is a movement that is willing to embrace anybody who has good ideas and initiatives. Please join us and please let us work with you through such means as providing publicity and networking.”

The Universities of Birmingham and Waseda, formally launched a strategic research partnership in 2016, building on collaboration dating from 2000. The partnership involves collaboration in areas such as robotics, atmospheric environmental science, urban studies, language education, creative writing and corpus linguistics, as well as Shakespeare studies.

The universities held a symposium ‘Adapting Shakespeare for the Stage Today’ in Tokyo in November, which was sponsored by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and co-organised by the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute and Waseda University.


For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312 or For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

  • Shinichi Iida has served as Minister for Public Diplomacy and Media and Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre (JICC) at the Embassy of Japan in London since July 2016. He is a spokesperson of the Embassy and also works to promote cultural exchange between Japan and the United Kingdom.
  • Since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990, Shinichi Iida served as First Secretary of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations from 2003 to 2006 as a representative to the Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee of the General Assembly, and also worked on UN reform. He is currently serving as a member of the UN Peacebuilding Fund Advisory Group. Mr Iida has a Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College in the United States and studied law at the University of Tokyo.