THE BLOG
11/11/2013 07:24 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:53 GMT

Good News: Tokyo Just Got Closer

Which two cities are more connected than you'd think? London and Paris or New York? Nope, the surprise winner when you look at Loughborough University's impressively-named Information-rich Visualisation of Dense Geographical Networks figure 1c is... London and Tokyo.

Which two cities are more connected than you'd think? London and Paris or New York?

Nope, the surprise winner when you look at Loughborough University's impressively-named Information-rich Visualisation of Dense Geographical Networks figure 1c is... London and Tokyo.

Not obvious. But when you go, you see why. I'm recently back from Tokyo and was warmly and extremely politely welcomed (arigato! and a deep bow of gratitude to everyone I met), not least because of the surprising commonality between our biggest cities.

It's easy to see the differences - politeness, order, extreme train punctuality, pristine streets and shrines... But don't miss the similarities: yes finance and commerce, but also creativity, arts and world-leading digital culture. Also, sadly, there's a bit of economic uncertainty on both sides of the world - they're a bit melancholy and we're a bit austere.

But the great news for lovers of Japanese culture (and once you've been, you can't fail to be fascinated) is the great celebration of sport, culture, diversity and disability - which was London 2012 - will connect the UK and Japan all the more strongly in the years to come, given Tokyo's success in landing the Olympics for 2020.

And London 2012 was top of the agenda in every meeting I had - with Tokyo Government, with Japan's Foreign Ministry, with the UK's excellent Ambassador - and when I was interviewed, with the customary incredible politeness, by the biggest selling newspaper in the world, the Yomiuri Shimbun.

We talked at length about the UK's experience of 2012 and what I think are the great opportunities for Tokyo and Japan looking forward to 2020. They all liked the sound of the three things I said London 2012 brought the UK: regeneration for London; a boost to the economy; and a big boost to the UK's self-confidence.

And my humble advice for Tokyo? As I said to Yomiuri Shimbun, I'm sure no country in the world is more capable of executing something well-planned than Japan. But I also want Japan to show us its creative side.

The fusion of tradition and modernity which Danny Boyle managed for the UK could be stunningly realised by Japan to give us a new idea of the future of human society - not least as we all live longer and longer...

I still remember as a child how Japanese products amazed us. And a tradition of film, design, Manga and robotics - not least a 78 fingered robot guitarist and 21 stick drummer - show Japan can certainly rock and animate the world.

And the help, advice and support we've been asked for from London, the UK and the British Council we are truly happy to give to Tokyo, because everyone's a winner from a great games.

But beyond sport and economics, my personal wish for the people of Japan is that they can use the Tokyo 2020 Games to re-ignite their belief and our expectation that things that astonish the world have always come from Japan - and always will - to boost their self-confidence, as London 2012 did ours.