President November 2017

Loud and clear

UK–Japan achievement honoured

Big Ben’s familiar chimes cannot be heard in London these days whilst the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the great bell, undergoes refurbishment. But the iconic sound rang out loud and clear in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s magnificent ballroom on 2 November to herald the start of the 10th annual British Business Awards (BBA).

Guided by masters of ceremonies Guy Perryman MBE and Madoka Kato, 345 guests were treated to an exhilarating opening video montage of the BBAs’ 10-year history, before shifting down a gear to enjoy a mouth-watering five-course dinner. Energy levels were maintained throughout by fabulous prizes from our generous in-kind sponsors and although appetites were sated by the time coffee was served, guests were nevertheless hungry to know who would receive the 2017 awards.

In the entertaining ceremony that followed, the spotlight was on our worthy winners. As always, these were drawn from a very competitive field of nominees, the quality of which highlights the strength of the foundation on which we seek to accelerate the growth of UK–Japan business, investment and trade.

British pride
Our BBA theme this year was the “red carpet experience”. Being British, this reminded me not of Hollywood or Cannes, but of the glamour of London’s Royal Opera House—home to the British Academy Film Awards. Fittingly, these were first awarded to films released in 1948—the very same year in which the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) was established in Tokyo.

About 45 years later, a motion picture called Remains of the Day was nominated for Best Film. This, of course, was based on the book by British author Kazuo Ishiguro OBE, who was honoured as this year’s Nobel Prize winner for literature. Born in Japan, but raised, educated, living and writing in the UK, his achievements have been celebrated by people in both Britain and Japan.

These plaudits are richly deserved and, following the BBA, I am delighted to report there are others—this time in the field of business—of whom the UK and Japan can also be very proud.

Looking to next year
Whilst congratulations go to the BBA winners, our gratitude goes to the sponsors—notably Robert Walters Japan K.K., Taylor Brunswick Group and Standard Chartered Bank, Japan—without whom it would not have been possible to deliver the event. For the third year in a row though, we are indebted to Chief Executive Officer Magnus Hansson and his team at Jaguar Land Rover Japan Limited, which was our headline sponsor. If there was an award for commitment to the BBA, it would surely be theirs.

With the 2017 BBA over, the BCCJ will turn its attention to the 2018 event, which will help celebrate the chamber’s 70th year. As ever, the executive team will challenge themselves to do better, so if you have feedback, please do let them know.

After all, in the words this weekend of England (and former Japan) rugby coach Eddie Jones, “We’re always looking for advice from outside, because there’s always smarter people than us, and we’re not afraid to get smarter people to come in and tell us we’re dumb”.