"The bullet train to Kyoto in fact arrived twenty minutes early last night in just two hours ten.
Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital, with over 1,600 temples and shrines. We had the honour of being shown around the oldest, the Kiyomizu-dera shrine, by the chief monk, whose father and grandfather had been monks before him. Following the theme of globalisation running through the trip, his son is now living in America, not following the family tradition into the cloth. The temple has a long history, first built on the site over one thousand years ago. This respect for, and understanding of history is yet another value we share with the Japanese.
After lunch with local community and business leaders we were back on the bullet train to Tokyo, past the magnificent sight of Mount Fuji. Invited to the driver’s cab during the journey, the feeling of speed was impressive. No crossings, no stop lights, and an automated braking system which told the driver when he could push to the top speed. The average delay on the journey is 18 seconds.
Finally to one of the key meetings of the trip, with Shinzo Abe, the overwhelming favourite in the LDP leadership contest, set to become Prime Minister in just over a fortnight. Abe has around 65% of the electoral college of Diet members and party activists, while the two alternatives share around 15% each. Tall and slender, he looks younger than his 51 years.
We discussed the final stages of the leadership contest, the Japanese economy, and what more we can do to strengthen British-Japanese relations. I confirmed my view that there is much that we can work with Japan on, and I urged Mr Abe to make an early visit to Britain if or when he becomes Japan’s Prime Minister.
From the challenges of globalisation, coping with an ageing population, and of course climate change, what struck me throughout this visit is that we share many similar difficulties and interests. I am delighted that the Conservatives and the next generation of Japanese leaders have established a firm friendship."