Leaders September 2015

Keep ahead

Develop, innovate, challenge

In this issue, our special on career development, it is fitting that the second BCCJ ACUMEN entrepreneur column celebrates the joy of learning and the doors of opportunity that perseverance can open.

Elaine Cooper makes a living from an art that she loves, but it did not happen overnight. A UK expert in the creation of washi (Japanese paper), she attained that position thanks to skills gleaned during a 10-year apprenticeship in Japan. Yet, even today, she admits to be still learning, and continues to push the limits of the craft, demanding only the best—from herself.

That attitude applies to sport, too. Last month I attended a Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015 gala reception at the British Embassy Tokyo. On the ambassador’s lawn, guests tried tackling a machine that displayed the force of the impact.

On speaking to the equipment providers, who host such events across Japan, I learned that, although many participants at first have a poor score, their motivation to continue is being able to see their progress.

There is no doubt that such grassroots activities, and the recent street rugby event in Nihonbashi, will play a part in boosting participation and interest in the sport ahead of the RWC 2019. Members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, too, have expertise to contribute to this work.

A precious gift

On 1 September, Japan’s local governments held emergency drills to mark National Disaster Prevention Day, and organisations such as TELL provided advice as part of the efforts. While work in this area has been stepped up following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, one British architect believes more needs to be done.

Robin Jenkins’ Tohoku visit in February 2014, to support local businesses, was the beginning of a journey to provide an invaluable lifeboat service, modelled on that of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Together with academics and specialist firms, he will deliver the equipment, infrastructure and expertise for a project that will bring peace of mind to thousands of people.

Current affairs

While recent work related to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has received more negative than positive reactions, that should not dishearten UK firms from the potential opportunities of the Games. Speaking at MIPIM Japan, Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, pointed out lessons that Games organisers can learn from London 2012, including in the areas of regeneration, investment and tourism.

In academia, London-based Dr Mai Sato visited Tokyo in August to discuss a new study entitled, The Public Opinion Myth: Why Japan retains the death penalty, which she has co-authored. BCCJ ACUMEN met her to get under the surface of this controversial issue, and find out what is driving Japanese public opinion.