Reflections on four decades of fascination with Japan

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 17 December, 2020
6:00pm GMT


Bill Emmott
Chairman, The Japan Society of the UK
Co-founder and co-director of the Global Commission on Post-Pandemic Policy

in coversation with Professor Simon Kaner, Sainsbury Institute

We are pleased to announce that this month’s Third Thursday Lecture will be presented online. You can enjoy the lecture live from the comfort of your own home, complete with slides and an audience Q&A. We look forward to seeing you there virtually, and we particularly welcome new attendees.

About the Talk

Ever since being posted to Japan as a correspondent for The Economist in 1983, Bill Emmott has been fascinated by a sort of psychological contradiction in the way that Japanese society, culture, politics and economy at times feel quite straightforward to understand and explain, especially by using comparative international thinking, but then at times a cloud seems to descend and the explicable can become enigmatic, even inexplicable. Now as chair of the Japan Society of the UK, but also as an author of books such as this year’s “Japan’s Far More Female Future”, he finds himself sitting as a sort of interpreter between two so well connected but also separate societies. This conversation will reflect upon those nearly four decades of experience and fascination, culminating in this extraordinary pandemic year, one in which digital technology has enabled the Japan Society to showcase the expertise in Japan and the UK on issues of common interest in a much more equal or simultaneous way than before, while often spotlighting how different our perspectives are from one another.

About the Speaker

Bill Emmott is co-founder and co-director of the Global Commission on Post-Pandemic Policy, a non-profit group dedicated to thinking through priority issues for the world after Covid-19. A writer and consultant best known for his 13 years as editor in chief of The Economist in 1993-2006, a publication he first joined in 1980 and served in Brussels, Tokyo and London, he is now chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, chairman of the board of Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub for Arts & Humanities, and chairman of the Japan Society of the UK. In 2016 the Japanese government awarded him the “Order of the Rising Sun: Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” for services to UK-Japan relations. Bill is the author of 14 books variously on Japan, Asia, the 20th century and Italy, and narrated and co-wrote a documentary film about Italy, “Girlfriend in a Coma” (2013). His most recent book was “Japan’s Far More Female Future”, published by Oxford University Press in September 2020.

How to book

Booking is essential. Use our booking form or email us.

We will send you an email containing a link for joining us before the event. To view the lecture or participate in the Q&A, please click on the link provided and enter your details when prompted. We recommend using Google Chrome web browser.


We are currently adjusting to remote working, and as such we will not be able to cancel your place at this event. If you do not plan to attend this online event, please disregard subsequent emails.

If you have any questions or concerns about this event, please contact us.

Image: Japan’s Far More Female Future, Bill Emmott, Oxford University Press, 2020

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.