Happy New Year! As we start 2020, I look back at what a fascinating time 2019 was to be in Japan and part of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ). The G20, an Imperial coronation, and the Rugby World Cup formed a vibrant backdrop against which the chamber sought to enhance trust and opportunities for bilateral Japan–UK business. We did this by promoting dialogue and exchange around three core themes:
- Advancement of technology and digitisation
- Proliferation of socially responsible business
- Greater diversity and inclusiveness
The rapidly approaching Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will ensure that, this year, Japan is again cast as a major player on the global stage. Doubtless, there are many organisations that would like to share that limelight and use the occasion to demonstrate their capability and expertise. I hope that British firms, in particular, will see this as an opportunity for greater collaboration with Japanese stakeholders.
Power of partners
The UK in Japan 2019–20 campaign, organised by the British Council Japan and the British Embassy Tokyo, provides an ongoing engine of activity with increasing momentum. Furthermore, the prospect of a future Japan–UK economic partnership agreement offers a catalyst for serious discussion of mutual interests and opportunities. Individually, our countries have many unique and impressive capabilities. Together, in partnership at both the national and corporate levels, there is a chance to expand the frontier of expectation.
Recent examples are plentiful, especially where cutting-edge research is involved. In November, we saw Hitachi, Ltd. renew its 30-year partnership with the University of Cambridge aimed at developing technology to realise practical quantum computing. Exponentially faster than classical computers, the new machines have the potential to revolutionise cryptography and drug discovery. The Japanese giant also began collaboration with Cambridge Consultants Ltd. on the application of synthetic biology to address the burgeoning problem of plastic waste. In jet propulsion and turbomachinery, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., remains a key long-term industry partner to the UK’s centre of research excellence.
Successful collaboration is also, in part, a function of the personalities involved, and a number of outstanding individuals have been duly recognised, including those featured in this issue of ACUMEN.
In closing, as we embark on the start of an exciting new decade, let us remember the BCCJ’s purpose, its fundamental reason for being: that members make great connections with people who matter. That is why the chamber exists. That is why we are a community. That is what the BCCJ is for, and I hope this purpose will spark a desire among members to participate in the chamber’s many and varied initiatives and activities in the months ahead.