Executive Director May 2019

Look back, look forward

Annual General Meeting sets the tone

At this year’s British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) Annual General Meeting (AGM), the 2019–2020 BCCJ Executive Committee (Excom) was presented to chamber members and distinguished guests, including British Paralympics Association Chief Executive Mike Sharrock.

Held at the Roppongi Hills Club on 24 April, the meeting was opened by British Ambassador to Japan Paul Madden CMG, who described a successful year for the bilateral relationship, as well as a deepening of economic and security ties between Japan and the UK.

According to the Department for Interna­­tional Trade, exports from the UK to Japan increased by £1bn—from £13bn to £14bn—in 2018. Also mentioned were stronger security rela­tions includ­ing the deployment of four Royal Navy ships to Japan during the past year and the first time for British Army troops to exercise on Japanese soil.

The Ambassador went on to talk about UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s two visits to Japan in the past year to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono (page 6).

Annual report

In his President’s Report, BCCJ President David Bickle presented achievements and developments from the past year, supplemented by a snazzy short video that outlined the pillars of our 5.0 project, the goal of which is to promote trust and opportu­ni­ties in bilateral UK–Japan business through:

  • An increasingly diverse and inclusive workplace
  • Proliferation of technology, digital business and innovation
  • Responsible business practices

Excom hopes that these will be beacons around which UK and Japanese firms can come together to share experiences and best practice. Through these exchanges, we aim to strengthen trust and generate new commercial activities.

On the subject of increased business links and net­working, the chamber has delivered a record-breaking 50 high-value events, welcoming 2,463 attendees, over the past 12 months.

As for member engagement, analytics show that there has been a 29% increase in users of the BCCJ website and direct traffic to the site has increased by a significant 80.5% over the past year. Building on this positive trend, the BCCJ website redevelopment project is now underway. The forthcoming website will be designed to improve member experience through cutting-edge functionality and a more-intuitive design.

Welcome to Excom

In line with the BCCJ Constitution, we moved ahead with the election of the 15 BCCJ members (page 17) who will be serving you and delivering our BCCJ 5.0. vision during Japan’s mega years of 2019 and 2020. David Bickle of Deloitte Tohmatsu Tax Co. was elected by acclamation as chairperson of the Executive Committee and president of the BCCJ for a sixth term.

This year’s Excom will meet as a group for the first time at a kick-off session on 28 May, and will thereafter hold monthly meetings at the British Embassy Tokyo.

The new committee, statement of accounts and appointment of the chamber’s independent provider of audit-related services, OC & Associates, were all approved unanimously.

Following the vote, questions were asked from the floor on various topics, including the BCCJ’s digital strategy, membership growth strategy and finances.

As the evening concluded with great food, drinks and networking, it was clear to see why the chamber continues to grow and how the engagement of our dedicated members is sure to carry the BCCJ 5.0 project to great success.