Harmony of the Sheep
This year, the pre-printed stamps on nengajo (New Year cards) were the first of their kind. In keeping with custom, they show the Chinese zodiac animal of the new year, a sheep. It wears a scarf and holds knitting needles, but it is not any sheep.
Rather, it is the same one that began knitting that scarf in 2003, the previous year of the sheep. An innovation by the Japan Post Service Co. Ltd., the move has again brought to the fore—in the international press—the care that Japanese give to detail.
New year, new hope
Traditionally symbolising harmony and security, many will hope that the Year of the Sheep is true to what it denotes.
Speaking at a UK-Japan global seminar late last year, Sir John Major addressed the threat of unrest in Asia and the possible impact of failing states on regional and global stability.
He urged the UK and Japan to work together to bring solutions (page 24); perhaps that shall be possible this year.
For readers still considering New Year’s resolutions, Jeremy Sanderson’s advice on how to be a successful entrepreneur may provide food for thought (page 19).
Chief executive of five firms in Japan, Sanderson provides, through his perspective, a wealth of insight into setting up and running a business. He is a shining example of the power of self-belief in achieving one’s dreams.
Showtime for rugby
This week VisitEngland launched its “Discover Your England” TV campaign in connection with the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015.
Aimed at raising the profile of destinations such as Hadrian’s Wall, the Yorkshire Dales and Tower Bridge, the tournament is expected to have a dramatic impact on tourism, generating £2.2bn for the UK economy, according to Ernst & Young.
As the host of RWC 2019, Japan will be watching the build-up.
Meanwhile, many British firms involved in the tournament will be monitoring progress and seeking to transfer their skills and experience to the next hosts.
With this in mind, a number of UK businesses came here on a trade mission late last year, when they met parties with interests in RWC 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (page 16).
On new territory
It is an exciting year for both the new Ambassador of the European Union to Japan Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, and Deputy Head of Delegation Jonathan Hatwell. BCCJ ACUMEN was honoured to interview Isticioaia-Budura about matters related to ties between the UK and Japan (page 21).
In his attempt to set a world record, Norman Surplus is also hoping to break ground this year. Despite being stalled in Hokkaido and unable to continue his round-the-globe gyrocopter voyage until he receives landing permission from Russia, the British pilot is determined to complete the trip he started in 2011 (page 38).
On behalf of the BCCJ ACUMEN team, may I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Sheep.