Suffolk: Japanese ambassador Keiichi Hayashi gets a taste of the county

THE Japanese ambassador to the UK is on a two-day tour of Suffolk as part of a campaign to promote the county in the run-up to the Olympics.

Bespoke tours are being organised for key visitors to showcase the county’s highlights, including opportunities in terms of business and tourism, to ensure Suffolk makes the most of the international attention which fill focus on the UK during the London games.

Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi began his visit at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich where he viewed its regenerative medicine laboratories and opportunities for economic growth from primary research.

Following lunch at Seckford Hall, near Woodbridge, the party moved on to Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath, BT’s telecommunications and information technology research centre, before completing its schedule of visits for the day at Aspall Cyder, near Debenham.

Following a tour of Aspal site, where cider has been made since 1728, the ambassador officially opened a new kegging plant which has made Aspall the first cider producer in the UK to use plastic kegs.

Savings achieved through this innovation will help Aspall to continue the growth of its export business, which rose 55% last year and in which Japan is a major market.

Aspall chairman Barry Chevallier Guild said: “The ambassador’s visit is very important to the ongoing relationship between our two markets.

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“Aspall’s exports to Japan are significant, having sold 50% of the 2011 volume in the first four months of 2012. Based on these figures, and the introduction of the new plant, we should be able to further build on this.”

Day one of the tour finished with a Civic Reception at Hintlesham Hall, near Ipswich, and the ambassador’s itinerary continues until this afternoon.

The tours are being hosted by Tim Passmore, the leader of Mid Suffolk District Council and a former chief executive of Choose Suffolk which until last year was the body responsible for promoting tourism in Suffolk.

Mr Passmore said: “I am thrilled that we have managed to persuade the ambassador of the third largest economy in the world to spend the best part of two days in Suffolk.”