Leaders June 2015

Business impact

Investment furthers UK–Japan relations

British food and drink has been growing in popularity in Japan, and it is not only original, imported products that have found a market.

From English breakfast tea and fish ’n’ chips to whisky, there are many Japanese firms in Tokyo and further afield that have found a firm domestic following for the British favourites they have created.

Often spurred on by an interest in, or appreciation of, the UK, many businesses have even received endorsement or certification from British firms and associations for the quality of their products.

Made in the UK

Now it is the turn of Britons to bring products to market that are perhaps more traditionally found in a Japanese kitchen. This issue features the stories of four entrepreneurs from the length and breadth of the UK who are providing a taste of Japan: sake, seaweed, fresh fish and wasabi.

While the development indicates an increasing demand for Japanese cuisine across the country—which will likely continue to grow—export to Japan is also forecast, partly due to the high quality of the produce.

Whether the creation of these products and exploration of the Japanese market is the result of a connection with Japan or a simple realisation of a gap in the market, these firms have sown the seeds of a relationship between the two countries.

For example, the sake distillery will provide information about Japan through a cultural centre and Japanese guests were among those recently hosted by the wasabi farm.

Support for locals

A firm’s impact on the community in which it is based is not solely economic, but social, too. Aside from providing employment, Japanese businesses based in the UK, such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd., Hitachi Rail Europe and Calbee, Inc., are active in supporting education, training and cultural understanding.

Their efforts are a shining example of the value added—and perhaps often forgotten—benefits of foreign direct investment and how it can contribute to grass roots internationalisation.

Meanwhile, in the East of Scotland, a plan for the V&A Museum of Design Dundee by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma is set to revolutionise the city. While work is not due to be completed on the £80.11mn project until 2018, its leaders say his modern and inspiring design is already helping to bring locals confidence and ambition.

Finding a gap

As part of BCCJ ACUMEN’s column on members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, this issue features Brian Gregory and his son Justin. Resident in Tokyo since 1976, Brian has worked across a wealth of industries including sales, food production, music and fashion.

Though he may not consider himself an entrepreneur, he appreciates the art of being one: to react swiftly to the demands of the market and opportunities available for developing a business.