Leaders June / July 2010

Change at the Top

With the UK elections behind us and a new government in place, our thoughts must turn to what importance the incoming administration will attach to the Anglo-Japanese relationship. Naturally, the cabinet faces a multitude of domestic issues that will demand its immediate attention. But foreign relations will certainly not be forgotten and it is our hope that the strong ties between our two countries will be maintained.

The BCCJ’s message to the new British government is that Japan still presents us with tremendous business opportunities, which should be seized and exploited to the fullest. The recent FCIJ Business Confidence Survey (see page 18) demonstrates that those on the ground here — despite the recent economic difficulty — expect strong growth in the coming six to 12 months. British businesses that are not already here should be encouraged to explore the vast potential of this market and, while we understand the attraction of China, for example, we also believe that to ignore Japan today is a big mistake.

It is our strong hope that, by the autumn, we will see senior representatives of the new UK government visiting Japan to understand what British business has already achieved here and how we can build on those achievements. Through our colleagues with UK Trade & Investment at the Embassy, we have extended a warm welcome to any such visitor willing to speak at a Chamber event and we look forward to letting you know as soon as we can confirm the dates.

Of course — as we reported in the last issue — we’ve recently had our own internal election to install an Executive Committee for the 2010 – 11 Chamber year, along with a chairman of that committee who will concurrently serve as president of the BCCJ. I’m delighted to report that we are off to a good start with a team that’s committed to building on what’s been done before. We have one taskforce looking at member benefits and we’ll be reporting on their findings in due course. Another is already at work to plan the 3rd annual British Business Awards (see page 11), an event that this year is expected to have new categories and will undoubtedly benefit from increased exposure in BCCJ ACUMEN.

It is encouraging to receive feedback from members — either in letters to this publication or through event surveys and direct emails — and I can’t stress enough how much importance we attach to such feedback. Much of what you tell us suggests that when it comes to events, you want more of the same and it is certainly our goal to offer a broad menu of topics and speakers. Remember, if you have a visiting CEO or someone else who might make an interesting speaker, we are always happy to consider offering them a platform. Likewise, we’d be happy to hear from you if you have ideas on subjects we ought to be covering in our speakers’ programme and in ACUMEN.