President August 2017

Major milestones

For UK–Japan firms

Anniversaries are a perfect opportunity to reflect on past achievements. But they also remind us to look forward, assessing progress towards future goals. It is in that spirit that I am delighted to highlight the forthcoming milestones for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).

In November, we will host the 10th annual British Business Awards (BBA), which is now firmly established as the premier event in the BCCJ calendar. It has been an honour over the years for the chamber to showcase the ingenuity, determination and talent of award nominees as they pursue success in the field of UK–Japan business.

The 10th anniversary is special though, and we look forward to celebrating with members and guests the very best examples of UK–Japan business leadership and collaboration now and in the years ahead.

Business landmarks
With the arrival of the BBA comes the realisation that the calendar year is fast drawing to a close. This means that the BCCJ will shortly mark the 70th year since its formation in 1948—our platinum anniversary. As a chamber of commerce, the BCCJ is a business enabler dedicated to bringing our members “the people who matter”. These may be customers, peers, partners, enthusiasts and thought leaders—people together with whom we can learn, network and pursue business success.

In that respect, the BCCJ exists primarily to amplify the aspirations of firms and individuals that want to participate in UK–Japan business. We are acutely aware that it is their active participation that gives substance to the BCCJ, and we look forward to continuing to act as a catalyst for bilateral business opportunities between the UK and Japan in the years to come.

Whilst proud of the BCCJ’s 70 years of operation, this pales in comparison with member firm Johnson Matthey Japan G.K., whose listed UK parent is this year celebrating its 200th anniversary. Together with other leading UK-headquartered firms, the manufacturing, distribution, research and development that it conducts in Japan shows a commitment to nurturing skills in this country, and is a ringing endorsement of the quality and innovation that characterises Japanese technical expertise.

Export potential
Although UK-based multinationals make a disproportionate contribution to international business, firms of all sizes and specialisation have the potential to engage in cross-border trade. As Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent indicated in March, British exporters are currently in a “sweet spot”. How long this will last is a matter for speculation, but for the time being, confidence in UK manufacturing remains high.

One advocate is Will Butler-Adams, chief executive officer of Brompton Bicycle, who in a recent interview with the Financial Times spoke of a “revitalisation in UK manufacturing”. On Brompton’s own transformation, he lauds new capabilities and a passion for engineering excellence—“the cutting edge technology, the 3D printers … it’s artistic, it’s inspirational”.

Coming from someone whose name bears more than a passing similarity to the first Englishman to reach this country more than 400 years ago—William Adams—we in Japan should take note!