The first weekend in July delivered a grandstand opening to a tremendous summer of sport. There was a magnificent win for the England women’s football team to secure third place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada; victory for Lewis Hamilton MBE in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone; and participation by members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) in a street rugby tournament in Nihonbashi.
Grass roots support
In Tokyo, an early morning downpour did not dampen spirits, and it was tremendous to see support for the event coming from platinum member Robert Walters Japan K.K. and other members BrewDog Japan, Jaguar Land Rover Japan Limited, Mazars Japan, VisitBritain, and JAC International.
Showing that the event’s emphasis was firmly on fun, a team of baristas also deserve our applause for taking to the freshly laid artificial turf outside their coffee shop, still sporting their aprons! That was a delightful example of community participation in an initiative designed to spark interest in the build up to the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Multiplied thousands of times over, it will be grass roots interventions like this that will provide the energy and enthusiasm to successfully carry the major sporting events that Japan will be hosting at the end of the decade.
VIPs give insight
Street rugby was a fun way to end a packed few weeks in the BCCJ events calendar. Highlights included a breakfast with Member of the Scottish Parliament and Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, and a roundtable discussion with Deputy Mayor of London for Policy and Planning Sir Edward Lister.
Hyslop highlighted how Scottish firms are blazing a trail for world-class British businesses to engage with Japan, while Lister spoke about the challenges of managing the development of the UK capital. Not least of these is the on-going effort to secure the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by anchoring regeneration of the city’s East End through the Olympicopolis project—an innovative plan to attract arts and cultural facilities as an adjunct to jobs and growth.
Sending our thoughts
The approaching summer hiatus is a time of flux. This year, we must bid farewell to Sue Kinoshita and Richard Buttrey of UK Trade & Investment at the British Embassy Tokyo. Both have made tremendous contributions to British business in Japan, and have been great supporters of collaboration with the BCCJ. We wish them well, and look forward to working with their successors.
Finally, I would like to recognise the sadness felt by BCCJ members at the news that Sukeyoshi Yamamoto OBE has passed away. He was the first Japanese member of the BCCJ’s Executive Committee, a passionate supporter of UK–Japan relations and a great friend to the chamber. His contribution is one to admire, applaud and celebrate.