Momiji announces partnership with Medway Japan Group to revitalise Japan/UK youth exchange programme

Momiji is pleased to announce a new initiative supporting the Medway Japan Group to revitalise an exchange programme for young people to visit the UK and Japan.  

Momiji’s support enabled four students to travel to the Japanese cities of Yokosuka and Ito in July 2023 and subsequently host four returning students from Japan in the UK in August 2023.  

The Medway area in Kent has a long association with Japan thanks to William Adams, who was the first Briton to reach Japan in 1600. Born in Gillingham, Adams is recognised as one of the most influential early foreigners in Japan, where he advised the country’s first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and helped establish Dutch trading posts. 

To celebrate Adams’ achievements and his close ties with Japan, Gillingham was twinned with Japanese cities Yokosuka and Ito in 1982 and Medway’s local council started a Japanese exchange programme for teenagers in the local area. However, funds were diverted away from the programme in 2013 and it has since had to support itself. Momiji’s backing is a major boost to the programme and has allowed the Medway Japan Group to restart its exchange for the first time since 2019, giving a new generation of students an opportunity of a lifetime to explore Japan and experience a new culture. 

On August 24, 2023 Momiji hosted a gathering in London for this year’s exchange students, Medway Japan Group organisers and friends of Momiji. The event was a great success, with moving speeches made by our Chair, Aki Olver, and Masa’s husband, Joe Kidani, about Momiji’s plans and ambitions. It was wonderful to see the positive impact the exchange has had on the students and how much they have grown as individuals since being selected to go on the exchange two years ago. 

Momiji has pledged financial support for the 2024 exchange and will have a role in the exchange’s selection process. We look forward to continuing to offer our support to the Medway Japan Group and the young people visiting Japan and the UK for the first time.   

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