Britain's Prince Charles visits Japanese factory in central England

Britain's Prince Charles visited Japanese machine tool maker Yamazaki Mazak's factory in central England on Thursday to learn about its highly regarded training programs for young workers.

Prince Charles has a long-standing interest in the training and development of young people and hoped to find out more about Yamazaki Mazak's apprenticeship scheme and the company's investment in young engineers.

Prince Charles, the next in line to the British throne, toured the factory and was given a demonstration of a Yamazaki Mazak machine tool making parts for an artificial leg. The prince also unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit and spoke warmly with young apprentices and other factory workers.

One apprentice, Stefan Solokowski, 18, said, "It was quite nerve wracking but it was an enjoyable experience to meet the future king of England."

"I live down the road and I've always wanted to work here since I was young. My dad works here as well so it's in my blood and (to work here) it's a dream come true," he added.

Based in Oguchi in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, Yamazaki Mazak Corp. is one of the world's leading machine tool manufacturers and opened its Worcester factory in 1987 following a meeting in 1984 between then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. At the meeting, Thatcher invited high technology Japanese manufacturers such as Yamazaki Mazak and Fujitsu Ltd. to open factories in Briain.

The Worcester factory, which is Yamazaki Mazak's European headquarters, now employs 500 people and makes a range of numerically controlled metal cutting and laser processing machine tools for the British and Continental European markets. The machine tools are used in a variety of industries to make components for devices such as mobile phones as well as Formula 1 cars.

Yamazaki Mazak's British operation has twice received the Queen's Award for international trade in recognition of its contribution to the British export economy.

Senior Deputy Group Managing Director Hiroyuki Yamazaki said, "I am very thankful for the prince's visit and I believe it will provide good motivation for staff whilst also having a positive effect in terms of publicity."

Yamazaki, who is the grandson of the founder of Yamazaki Mazak, also said that Prince Charles thanked the Japanese machine tool maker for investing in Britain.