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1964: Japan trade fair floats into London

The first purpose-built floating trade fair has docked at Tilbury in London with 22,000 samples of Japanese goods on board.

The Sakura Maru will remain in London for four days, during which time 18,000 businessmen and women and 10,000 members of the public are expected to visit the show.

The floating trade fair will continue on a tour of Europe, which is costing the Japanese Government and exhibitors 400,000.

The trip is intended more as a public relations exercise than as a way of boosting sales. Since World War II, Japan has established an enviable reputation for low price and high quality.

Innovative products

The Japanese have really made a name for themselves in the electronics industry and there are plenty of examples of innovative products on show aboard the Sakura Maru.

The exhibition has been planned so each deck carries heavier products than the one above. A transistor radio set the size of two pennies is on display beside a portable television set so small it can be held between the thumb and forefinger of one hand and can be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket of a car.

Perhaps one of the most futuristic products on board is a public telephone which can transmit pictures of the person you are talking to through a small screen in the phone booth.

There is a deck devoted to the Japanese motor industry, which contains not only the latest model cars, but also motorbikes and even bicycles.

The lowest level contains textile, agricultural and other machinery in full working order. There is an automatic loom for making nylon fishing nets which has already been sold to Norway, France and West Germany.

The ship itself is also for sale - an exact replica can be built for 3.5m.

Next year a British industrial exhibition is going to Japan to promote trade between the two countries. The show is being billed as the biggest ever western exhibition to visit Asia.

In Context
The British Exhibition in Tokyo in autumn 1965 was visited by more than 750,000 people, vastly exceeding the organisers' expectations.

Since the American occupation of Japan ended in 1952, Britain had been slow to get a foothold in the Japanese market. In 1965, the US accounted for 30% of Japanese imports and Britain only 3.2%.

The exhibition was intended to show Britain had more to export than whisky and woollens.

Economic relations between the two countries have continued to expand.

In 1971, zip manufacturer YKK became the first Japanese firm to open a factory in Britain. In 1989, 50 Japanese companies invested in Britain in one year.

Japan has become the world's second largest economy. Although a combination of low demand and problems in the banking sector have caused a more recent slowdown in growth.

In 2002, Britain accounted for 40% of Japanese investment in the EU. An Action Japan campaign has been set up to actively promote British exports to Japan.


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