Leaders July 2014

Getting creative

Shakespeare, dragons and vitamins for the soul

In a survey by the British Council, released to mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, some 5,000 adults in India, Brazil, Germany, China and the US were asked to name a person they associated with UK arts and culture. The bard was the most popular response.

On the evening of 24 July at the Conrad Tokyo, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) will celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday at “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, our final event before the summer holidays.

Along with The Japan-British Society, the RSA Japan Fellows’ Network and the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we look forward to welcoming over 200 guests.

This is a great chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ties with Japanese and UK professionals, so remember to secure your spot through the BCCJ website.

On 26 June, I spent a fantastic evening at The British School in Tokyo, where I was a judge in their Dragons’ Den Challenge, along with other BCCJ members. Year nine students had created “an innovative, premium product or service that will enhance the lifestyles of Japanese mothers”.

I was bowled over by the confidence of the students, and it was challenging to decide which team should win. In the end, the “Blue Cookies”, who had designed a stylish alternative to aprons, were victorious.

This was in no small part down to the team’s answer to my question: “are you considering branching out into menswear?” Without missing a beat, one of the team responded, “there’s nothing to say a man can’t wear this apron”.

Quake zone latest
Earlier in June I travelled to Ishinomaki with a small team of BCCJ volunteers to check on a project we’ve worked with since the March 2011 disaster.

We received an update on the local situation from Hiroyuki Takeuchi, former editor of Hibi Shimbun, a newspaper that we supported through our Back To Business (B2B) Initiative for Tohoku, by supplying bicycles for reporters.

His team recently launched a newspaper written for kids by kids, believing that “words are vitamins for the soul”.

Sadly, there is still much to be done in the stricken areas, and children are beginning to show signs of PTSD. Takeuchi, who handwrote newspapers for survivors in evacuation shelters in the wake of the disaster, says he is keen to transform their suffering into “PTG”: post traumatic growth.

BBA 2014
At the BCCJ office we are preparing for this year’s British Business Awards (BBA) ceremony, to take place on 14 November from 6:30pm to 10:30pm at the Hilton Tokyo. The event will feature a performance by “the UK’s best unsigned band”, Stone Foundation, sponsored by VisitBritain.

This year too, the BBA trophies are to be designed by Scottish, Iwate-based sculptor Kate Thomson of Ukishima Sculpture Studio. Thomson will unveil a prototype of this year’s trophy soon.

Early-bird discounts will run until 31 July; book your spot via the BCCJ website and join us to celebrate what has already been a fruitful year for UK–Japan relations. www.bccjapan.com