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George Osborne's Diary: Part 1

Gosdiary_1 Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has just begun a visit to Japan and then India and he is keeping a diary for ConservativeHome.  This is his first entry.

I'd be glad if the earth moved every time I make a speech, but this time it really did. I was in the middle of giving my speech on promoting green growth in a Tokyo skyscraper when the room began to sway. The mostly Japanese audience were completely unfazed, and expected me to carry on, as if this was an everyday occurrence. It was. Apparently there are around five significant earthquakes each year in Tokyo. They explained later: the side to side ones are OK. It's when there's an up and down one that you need to dive under your desk.

Earlier in the day I had been invited to the Tokyo Stock Exchange by their Chairman, Nishimuro-san, who has been a friend since I met him in America in June, and he visited me in London in the summer. Tokyo, or course, has no stamp duty on shares. Cost have been brought down since the exchange went electronic in 1999, and the vast trading floor now contains just a dozen people using sophisticated computer equipment to spot suspicious trades.  Nishimuro-san says the programme is one of the most closely guarded secrets in Tokyo.

After a visit to the BBC Tokyo bureau to broadcast into the morning TV and radio, I met Mrs Kawaguchi, former Foreign Secretary and Foreign Policy adviser to the Prime Minister. After a fascinating discussion about the potential for Anglo-Japanese partnership in international affairs, she couldn't resist pointing out that when it comes to having a woman as Foreign Secretary, we are behind the times. She got there first almost a decade ago.

Finally on to dinner at a Chinese restaurant with senior business and political leaders. As well as discussing our efforts on climate change, I was quizzed on our approach to international terrorism and how the British people were coping with the terrorist threat. The subject of current British politics also came up. I hope I painted an unbiased portrait of our current Chancellor, whom it turned out none of them had ever met.

A packed day learning about Japan's position in the world, and how it is responding to global challenges. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, riding on the MagLev ultra-fast train at over three hundred miles per hour.


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