Leaders November 2014

Cultural and commercial bridges

Deepening relations with Japan’s public and private sectors

Resource for education
Last month, we were honoured to be asked by Waseda University for permission to include material from a BCCJ ACUMEN article in the university’s doctoral entrance exam paper.

The piece, “Diversity and Inclusion—Where to Start?”, is featured in the October 2013 issue, and was penned by Suzanne Price, former vice-president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).

It’s heartening that our content can prove useful to one of Japan’s premier academic institutions, particularly on such a hot topic.

Staying with education, on 27 October, I gave a presentation at the Japan Foundation to a group of 20 UK head teachers who were visiting Japan to find out more about its culture, language and business environment.

With it now compulsory for all primary schools in England to teach a foreign language chosen from a list of 10, I was invited to make the case for Japanese—generally a hard sell.

During an active Q&A session, the school heads were eager to hear about which BCCJ member firms—either British or Japanese—might be keen to fund assistant teachers of Japanese at their schools. If any readers would like to learn more, please get in touch.

Celebrating 50 years
On the evening of 31 October, I joined Rolls-Royce Holdings plc celebrations at the Conrad Tokyo.

The gathering was hosted by Ian Davis, chairman of the designer, manufacturer and distributor, to mark the firm’s golden anniversary of doing business in Japan.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force is today one of the world’s major operators of Rolls-Royce marine gas turbines, of which it has over 200 in service.

It was a pleasure to mingle with 250 guests, including senior government officials, and partners such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Sumitomo Precision Products Co., Ltd., All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., and Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.

Society seen through British eyes
It’s always a pleasure to see Sir David Warren KCMG, and his appearance last month at the International House of Japan was no exception.

At an intimate session with 40 guests, he read from and discussed Custom House, by Frances Henry King CBE (1923–2011), who served as regional director of the British Council in Kyoto from 1959 until 1963.

The book addresses the complexities of Japanese society in the 1950s, through the eyes of an ever-complaining Brit, and appeared to amuse greatly Japanese audience members.

Bilingual posts on website
With the support of the BCCJ Communications Task Force, headed by Jim Weeks of Kreab Gavin Anderson, we have begun work to make a selection of pages on the BCCJ website bilingual.

Since over 20% of our new web traffic comes from Japanese search engines, and 50% of our members are Japanese, we are pleased to cater to a wider audience in both languages.

Check out our first such post on the BCCJ’s securing of government funding, which details an exciting and historical development at the chamber (see page 25).