Leaders February 2014

A Global Education at the BCCJ

Opportunities for learning abound

With global jinzai such a hot topic on the road to 2020, education and innovation are never far from our minds at the BCCJ.

On 23 January it was a real pleasure to attend the British School in Tokyo’s 25th anniversary kick-off reception. Opened in 1989 by Margaret Thatcher, the school won the 2013 British Business Award (BBA) for Global Talent, and is currently going from strength to strength in terms of student numbers and exam results.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and we were delighted to hear that, from 2015, the UK-founded test will be used as part of the employment process for national public servants in Japan.

Earlier last month I visited the offices of Pearson Japan K.K., to say thanks to Chief Executive Officer Brendan Delahunty and his team for very generously having donated over 200,000 books to our corporate social responsibility project, Books For Smiles.

With our running total currently sitting at over ¥8.3mn, we are now in a position to fund higher education for four care-leavers in the Tokyo area. Please stay tuned for more updates throughout the year.

On the evening of 30 January, I attended the annual ceremony of The Entrepreneur Awards Japan, held at the residence of US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

Accompanied by Steve Crane, 2013 BBA Entrepreneur of the Year, and Guy Perryman, 2013 BBA Person of the Year, I was inspired to see Tokyo’s innovators out in force. The BCCJ played a part in this event for the third consecutive year, and we look forward to continuous engagement with Japan’s groundbreakers for many years to come.

Diversity and Inclusion

On 23 January, I participated in an interesting breakfast session hosted by Tokyo Electric Power Company. The firm now employs two senior female executives—rather a feat in Japan—and is keen to promote more of its female staff.

For those of you fortunate enough to miss my daily gripes about Diversity and Inclusion on Twitter, the country’s statistics on female management and participation in the boardroom are more than a little dire.

In the presence of 16 heavy hitters—including Haruno Yoshida of BT Japan, Yuka Shimada of Unilever and Yasuko Nagahama of BP Japan—I feel renewed hope that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Womenomics” will begin to bear fruit.

On a rather unusual note, towards the end of the month, I was invited by BCCJ member Scottish Development International to meet NHK in an advisory capacity regarding the broadcaster’s forthcoming drama centred on a Scottish heroine, Rita, who is celebrated by some as the Scottish mother of Japan’s whisky industry.

The daytime drama will be the broadcaster’s first to feature a non-Japanese protagonist and the team was keen to find out about the characteristics of Scottish women.

“We heard they are very strong”, offered Ken Sakurai, senior producer at NHK. I declined to comment, though I’m certain filming will be educational for both sides.

Keep up to date with all BCCJ news, including regular business updates from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the European Business Council in Japan and our extended network of trade organizations at www.bccjapan.com.