Executive Director

Big events, big impact

Busy autumn season for the chamber

As I began writing this month’s column, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) team was anxiously awaiting news about the impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final pool matches of the Rugby World Cup 2019. England vs France had been cancelled, and we were anticipating word about Scotland vs Japan, planned for 13 October. That match went ahead and saw the Brave Blossoms beat Scotland 28-21. Despite the turmoil brought by Mother Nature, life and work continue apace for the Executive Committee (Excom) and core BCCJ executive team.

Excom taskforces

Excom held its regular meeting this month on 9 October at the British Embassy Tokyo. Our three main taskforces provided updates for the remainder of this chamber year, which ends 31 March.

The Responsible Business Taskforce sends thanks to all members who have completed the 2019 Responsible Business survey

The Digital and Tech Innovation group is seeking member input on a UK–Japan Tech Pitch evening due to be held in 2020

The Diversity and Inclusion leaders are engaging in a chamber-wide benchmarking exercise, and having all Excom and BCCJ team members engage in unconscious bias training, supported by BCCJ Entrepreneur member Price Global.

Japanese partnerships

In response to feedback from members, we are working hard to bring more Japanese firms and external contributors to the BCCJ’s business exchange and networking programme. Members regularly tell us that they are keen to make more local business connections and engage with Japanese policymakers.

On 11 October, we hosted our first bila­teral session with the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, looking at business between the UK and Japan, in 2020 and beyond.

On 18 October we welcomed to the stage Tomoyo Ishigaki, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s director of communications. With foreign media portrayal of Japan perennially a strange jumble of opposites, Ishigaki is the person who must try to put the nation’s message across.

In conversation over breakfast, Robin Harding, Japan bureau chief for The Financial Times, discussed with Ishigaki how news about Japan is shaped, what the country is trying to say to the world and how its messages get warped in the process.

Such events—while posing interesting content—are designed to bring members into con­tact with wider and deeper pools of Japanese business­people. Please join our activities—which are designed with your business in mind—when­ever you can.

Flagship event

The largest event in the BCCJ diary is, of course, our annual British Business Awards gala, to be held this year on the evening of 8 November. The gala essentially takes a year to plan and, one month before, the team is spending about 80% of our time on delivering a superlative experience for more than 300 guests.

We are really grateful to our Headline sponsor, STH Japan, and our other main supporters—Gold sponsors Robert Walters Japan K.K. and Wimbledon Brewery, as well as Bronze sponsors Argentum Wealth Management and SI–UK (Study in the UK)—who help us deliver the best-value gala in town and keep our event cost-neutral.

We are also pleased that the event is to be run in collaboration with the UK in JAPAN 2019–20 campaign, a UK Government initiative. A full over­view of the gala, including news of our winners, will feature in the December issue of ACUMEN.

We are always seeking volunteers for the BBA 2019. If you can support our event roll-out, please get in touch! You can contact me at lori@bccjapan.com