As we begin to wind down our 70th anniversary, we can reflect on what has been a memorable year for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).
Last month’s British Business Awards, the largest event in the BCCJ’s history, was a fitting crescendo to our celebrations and we can be proud that the scale, professionalism and delivery of the evening has been widely applauded by stakeholders. Next year’s gala will offer a completely different experience for members and guests, so keep your eyes peeled for exciting updates on the BCCJ website in the new year.
Spread across more than 40 value-add events, the diversity of the BCCJ business networking experience—format, location, speaker line-up and content—continually pointed to our vibrant DNA this year.
As an example, our five “can do” hackathons were well-received by BCCJ members and external participants, who enjoyed rolling up their sleeves and hacking out practical solutions to issues facing our member companies in the Japan market.
We will, of course, strive to deliver additional enriching opportunities for you and your teams next year, serving to connect, motivate and inspire people across industries and sizes of firms.
Looking to 2019, we can rest assured it’s going to be an exceptionally important year for UK–Japan relations, packed full of growth opportunities for BCCJ members. Our team pledges to effectively champion the bilateral relationship amid the excitement of the Osaka G20 Summit in June—the first time the gathering will take place in Japan—and the Rugby World Cup, which will run from September to November.
In addition, the eyes of the world will turn to the Japanese Imperial transition, with Emperor Akihito set to abdicate on 30 April. This event will mark the end of the Heisei period and the start of a new era on 1 May, with Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony to follow on 22 October.
As for our 2019 events calendar, we kick off on 17 January with an annual favourite: the Shinnekai or New Year’s Party. This year we will celebrate in the elegant surroundings of the Palazzo Ducale Azabu, a little-known venue with big impact nestled in the heart of Tokyo. In addition to the usual festivities, we’ll also reveal on that night plans for an exciting new BCCJ vision project for the year ahead, aimed at promoting sustainable economic growth in the UK and Japan.
On 22 January, “Forecast 2019”, led by BCCJ Excom member Florian Kohlbacher of The Economist Group, will set the scene for the business year ahead. Also in January, we’ll assess how UK education providers are helping shape Japan’s educational future.
Large-scale events during the first quarter include our International Women’s Day session on 8 March, which will be run in association with financial services sector partners Barclays and SMBC, as well as our second of three Rugby Alliance receptions at the end of March.
In addition to our active events calendar, we will also unveil new digital experiences and ways to engage with the Chamber online—including our business concierge service and information services.
Year-end also leads to thoughts of those we have lost. It has been almost a year since the passing of Ian de Stains OBE, who served as executive director of the BCCJ from 1997 to 2011. Throughout this milestone year, Ian has never been far from our minds. I like to think that he would be proud of the Chamber that he, you and we have created.
Thank you for your commitment to the BCCJ during our platinum celebrations, and I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable festive season.