Leaders November 2016

Look ahead

A year of change

As we approach the end of 2016, I believe it is fair to say that this year has been a tumultuous one, in ways both good and bad. Perhaps fittingly then, change runs through the heart of many of this issue’s articles.

Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear of a technological innovation that is poised to reshape some aspect of business, society or our lives. We look at the impact innovation is having on sport-related business, and find that even technology is creating new sporting competitions.

Every year, policymakers, Japan watchers and members of the business community look forward to The Economist’s Japan Summit. On 21 October, they gathered to hear addresses given by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, as well as panels discussing work culture and gender diversity. As Japan continues to seek ways of engendering creativity and productivity, these talks gave a hint regarding the path Japan might take.

Moving forward
Diversity in the workplace goes beyond gender, however, and we look at what steps are being taken to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the retail sector, and which firms are leading the way.

The momentous decision following the June referendum on Britain’s EU membership is one of the biggest developments of the year. Understandably, many questions have been raised regarding the impact. In September, Alok Sharma, under secretary of state for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (minister for Asia and the Pacific), spoke to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation about the enduring ties linking the UK and Japan, and what Brexit means in that context. We are fortunate to have extracts from his speech.

This year will be the last for Tim Hitchens CMG LVO as UK Ambassador to Japan. In this issue, he reflects on the fourth time he has lived in Japan. At a special BCCJ event on 16 November, Farewell Ambassador Hitchens, Custom Media, publishers of BCCJ ACUMEN, was pleased to present him with a unique 36-page issue of the magazine, documenting his contributions to both the publication and the UK–Japan community. We wish him all the best for the remainder of his tenure and all future endeavours.

One thing that definitely remains the same is the degree to which UK–Japan collaboration has borne fruit, and we have an interview with the Derbyshire folktronica band Haiku Salut, who appear on the cover. They share some of their experiences touring Japan and how they have been influenced by the nation’s culture.

British Business Awards
By the time you read this, the 2016 British Business Award winners will have been announced at this year’s ceremony at the Hilton Tokyo hotel. Unfortunately, the event was just after this issue went to press. Nevertheless, let me here congratulate everyone who came away with a prize, as well as all those who contributed to, and took part in, the awards. We look forward to having full coverage of the event in the December issue of BCCJ ACUMEN.