To the Editor May / June 2022

Look at history to see the future

Bring back BCCJ ACUMEN!

It is said that all good things come to an end, which is sad, but when something of considerable quality terminates its doubly sad. Looking back over my shoulder that quality has been evolving for a long time.

Forty-four years ago,  members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) received a two- or three-page newsletter faintly printed on green paper, churned out by a handle operated Gestetner printing machine. The impact and content was poor. Having said that, this was at a time when overseas telephone calls from Japan were via an NTT international telephone operator, while a telex machine chatted to itself in some far flung corner of the office. Indeed, even the game changing fax machine had yet to make its business debut.

Developing print

Over time matters improved with a magazine (of sorts) arriving bimonthly by post. But only when the BCCJ outsourced the responsibility for their publication to Custom Media did the membership enjoy real quality, which alas is to be taken from us.

This letter is fast becoming a lament, so I am removing my BCCJ membership hat and replacing it with that of the founder and president of The William Adams Club (WAC).

History has been a particular focus in BCCJ ACUMEN and I am grateful for that on more than one front. Firstly, through several articles the life and achievements of William Adams (1564–1620) were published. Suffice it to say that WAC wanted to spread the word about the first Englishman to land in Japan, along with the fact that he—together with Captain John Saris—negotiated the first diplomatic and trade agreement between Japan and Britain.

Secondly, the study of history needs encouragement at all levels in the education system, but especially so at university. It has long been observed that history repeats, and what is more Sir Winston Churchill, our great World War II leader, once stated: “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”.

In closing

Well, given the current catastrophic situation in Ukraine and the lack of preparedness by the West, seemingly the lessons of history have been ignored, which is more than a pity.

In closing I rather pray for the rebirth of a BCCJ magazine, as opposed to an electronic version, as there is something inexplicably pleasurable about holding a magazine with a shiny cover, knowing that informative and enjoyable content is lurking inside.