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'Scottish Samurai' strategy to boost Japanese trade links

The home of a 19th-century industrialist known as the "Scottish Samurai" is to be renovated amid a new ­strategy to build economic ties with his home region and Japan.

Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911) was raised in Bridge of Don, near ­Aberdeen, and went on to trade in the Far East, founding a company in Japan at a time of internal strife and political tension between East and West.

His links with Samurai clans in Japan earned him the title Scottish Samurai and his private life was said to have inspired Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly.

A strategy to strengthen Aberdeen's links with Japan will be announced today at Mr Glover's family home.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone and Aberdeen councillor Ross Thomson will also talk about council plans to renovate the property in Bridge of Don.

Mr Glover, who was born in Fraserburgh, played a key role in the industrialisation of Japan, bringing the first steam locomotive to the country, introducing modern coal mining methods, founding the first modern shipyard - which later became Mitsubishi, and founding a brewery which remains a major player in Asia today.

His home and gardens in Nagasaki continue to attract nearly two million visitors a year.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Thomson said: "I believe that forging closer links through trade, education, culture and sport could bring substantial benefits.

"For example, Japan is investing heavily in the development of renewable energy and, with the UK oil and gas sectors ­diversifying into this field, the opportunities for co-operation are huge."

Mr Johnstone, convener of the cross-party group on Japan at Holyrood, said: "This initiative has the potential to deliver substantial benefits across a broad economic and cultural spectrum.

"The north-east is in an excellent position to deliver a unique product to the Japanese market.

"We have excellent ­ trading opportunities, two world-leading universities in the city, along with high-quality products such as golf and whisky."

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