On behalf of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCCJ) team, I wish you a very happy, safe and healthy new year.
The world experienced a pivotal year in 2020. Beyond the public health and personal upheavals, never have businesses and individuals had to make such quick decisions about how they work and what they can offer. The stories of adaptation, innovation and creativity across the BCCJ community—and beyond—are not only inspiring but are key to making 2021 a year of continued transformation.
Here at the BCCJ, things have been no different. Although we enter 2021 working from home, we will continue to use our robust online and new hybrid event models, as well as strong partner relationships, to bring you more networking and business opportunities. We will also deliver useful information on travel restrictions, other important governmental developments and an active events programme largely designed around the following core pillars.
We kickstarted the environmental “Super Year” with a webinar on the topic of biodiversity and corporate response, during which an expert panel shed light on the issues concerning biodiversity loss, the importance of corporate data and reporting, and opportunities for individuals and organisations to take action ahead of the United Nations (UN) COP15 biodiversity conference in May.
With less than a decade remaining to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, many organisations and countries are adapting to a sustainability-first mindset. Notable efforts include the UK’s Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future, published in December, and Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, as well as Japan’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. At the BCCJ, we will continue to offer our support in all the ways we can.
Diversity and Inclusion
One of our focal points as we enter Q4 of the chamber year will be our nationwide Diversity and Inclusion Survey. The first step in creating a society and workforce that recognise diversity and support inclusion is to understand where Japan stands on the topic—specifically on recognising differences—and to what extent individuals with different identities feel valued, leveraged and welcome. This survey will help us understand what the BCCJ should be bringing to the forefront of events and conversations in 2021, and we would greatly appreciate contributions from our members.
Digital and Tech Innovation
The move to digitalisation was one of the game changers of 2020, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is here to stay. Necessity has spurred innovation on all fronts, and the progress we have made in terms of harnessing the benefits of technology is undeniable. As the Japanese government pushes to establish an agency that will lead digital transformation, the BCCJ is committed to staying at the forefront—from cybersecurity and deep learning to responsible artificial intelligence and much more.
Also coming up are the Executive Committee (Excom) elections. An active and well-balanced Excom is essential for the BCCJ to achieve its goals and continue to grow, so I strongly encourage you to join our leadership team. The 2021–22 nomination period is 15 February–29 March. More information on nominations, voting and results is available on the BCCJ website: bccjapan.com
On a final note, we were delighted to see in the Queen’s New Year Honours list that BCCJ President David Bickle and long-term BCCJ member and partner Steve Crane were appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for their service to UK–Japan relations. David’s guidance and dedication over the past seven years, and Steve’s ongoing support around exports to Japan, have been—and continue to be—crucial to the success and vibrance of the BCCJ. These honours could not be more well deserved.