Our history

Where the relationship with Japan started

The NatWest Group’s historical ties with Japan stretch all the way back to 1859, when the Netherlands Trading Society (NTS) – eventually to become ABN AMRO, and then RBS – was the first foreign company to be granted Imperial consent to open branches in Japan. It opened a branch in Nagasaki, followed by more in other Japanese cities. By the late 1870s, however, competition was making trading activities less profitable and NTS withdrew from Japan.

Alexander Shand

Alexander Shand, a Scottish-trained banker, spent the 1860s and 1870s in Japan working for the Japanese finance ministry, advising on banking systems, conducting lectures and writing textbooks for Japanese bankers. He returned to London in 1877, but his ties to Japan remained important for the rest of his life. In 1905 Shand attended a dinner at the Savoy Hotel in Takahashi’s honour, and in 1927, the Japan Times published a booklet about Shand and his life, called ‘A Friend of Nippon’

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Korekiyo Takahashi

In the early 1900s, Korekiyo Takahasi played a key role in securing foreign loans for the Japanese government. One of the contacts who ensured his success in these projects was Shand, who had joined Alliance Bank (later Parr’s Bank) which eventually became part of NatWest Group and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Between 1899 and 1910 Parr’s Bank led consortia raising loans of £80,000,000 for the Imperial Japanese government.

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From 1920

By 1920, NTS had evolved from a trading company into a bank and opened a branch in Kobe. Its presence in the country was temporarily withdrawn during the 1940s, but by 1950 it was back again, and has continued ever since.

After the earthquake of 1923, Westminster Bank (as it was then known) led international efforts to raise reconstruction loans for the Japanese government. In recognition, the bank was given an elegant decorative dish, and the bank’s general manager at the time, John Rae, was appointed to the Order of the Rising Sun.

1950's to the present day

In the 1950s and 1960s, increased opportunities for cross-border transaction prompted many banks to become more involved in foreign markets. At first, this involvement was indirect – supporting customers with international interests – but soon the banks saw the benefit of having their own permanent presence overseas.

In 1971 NatWest, he successor of Westminster Bank, opened a Tokyo office, which became a full branch just over a year later. In 1985 the Royal Bank of Scotland appointed its first full-time representative in Japan.

Today’s RBS Group brings together the traditions of a number of banks and their long-standing friendships with Japan. Building on these solid foundations, it provides bespoke financial solutions to a range of institutional and corporate customers.

Doing business in Japan

We’re here for you to do business. Find out more about our currencies, fixed income and capital markets services available in Japan.

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Words from our President

A message from Kenji Yamamoto , the President of NatWest Markets Japan. Preseident Kenji  talks about how NatWest Japan works internationally and the knowledge that the whole NatWest Japan team bring to your banking.

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