Editor February 2018

Forward motion

Making progress in 2018

Long-term readers of BCCJ ACUMEN will surely be familiar with the Knights in White Lycra (KIWL), an amateur cycling team, founded by Brits, that raises money for good causes in Japan. Although the team organise fundraising events all year round, their signature ride is their annual 500km trip to Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture. This year, that will take place in June, and they need your help.

KIWL is currently sponsored by a number of British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) member firms, including Icon Partners KK, Jaguar Land Rover Japan Limited, Robert Walters Japan K.K., Thomson Reuters Japan KK, UBS Securities Japan Co., Ltd., and Custom Media K.K., as well as non-member firms. But they need more sponsors.

So far, KIWL have raised ¥40mn, and this year they hope to add a further ¥10mn from their 500km ride. The money raised will again go to Mirai no Mori, a charity that supports marginalised youth who, in turn, will put it towards their Leader in Training programme. It allows teenagers to develop practical life skills for when they leave institutional care.

If your firm is still looking for a good cause to support this year, opportunities remain for giving to KIWL. The team is looking for jersey sponsors, with options ranging from ¥100,000 to ¥500,000—100% of the pledge goes directly to Mirai no Mori. In return, firms also receive mentions on the KIWL website and social media, banners at events and on video recaps of the ride.

Many staff of sponsoring firms participate in the ride, but there is a chance to be involved in other ways, too. Mirai no Mori also hosts Back to Nature programmes, which firms can sponsor and participate in, giving them a chance to meet the children whose lives are being changed by their contributions.

Those interested should contact KIWL founder Robert Williams by 14 March at info@kiwl.net

Plan ahead
Soon after becoming prime minister, Theresa May announced her intention to devise an industrial strategy. Coming from a Conservative politician, this was somewhat unexpected due to the legacy of privatisation and rolling back the state under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but the move was broadly welcomed. Then, late last year, the government finally published its white paper on the topic, in the process fleshing out what the strategy will entail.

While not specifically related to Japan, the industrial strategy is nonetheless poised to affect the bilateral business relationship. With the strategy’s emphasis on improving the UK’s global competitiveness and on soliciting continued foreign direct investment, there is much to be considered by firms with a foot in both Japan and the UK. We take a look at the strategy and its possible implications and challenges.

Also planning for the future is the Welsh Rugby Union, two representatives of which were recently in Tokyo as part of their preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. BCCJ ACUMEN sat down with them to discuss their expectations for the tournament and the ongoing behind-the-scenes preparations.

Racing forward
It is always a pleasure to celeb­rate the success of UK firms in Japan, and a shining example of this is Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Guests at last year’s British Business Awards will surely remember that, as he claimed the Company of the Year trophy, Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer announced his plan to overtake rivals and become the top luxury carmaker in Japan.

We take a look at their strategy for achieving that. But, while the heart of it is their fabulous new brand centre in Aoyama, the firm is moving beyond just cars as it attempts to tap into a growing demand for quality, handmade luxury. See our interview with Palmer to learn more.

Looking back
All is not just forward motion, however. With the BCCJ celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, we are taking stock of the chamber’s achievements to date. This month, we publish the first part of our history of the chamber. Keep an eye out for part two in March. Over the course of 2018, we will be marking the anniversary with several other topics.