Media February 2013

News in Brief

Educational Talks Aim to Strengthen Links

The University of Bristol welcomed 90 academics from a Japanese university in the biggest international symposium of its kind held in the UK to date, the Times Higher Education reported on 8 January.

During the two-day event—sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Building Global Engagements in Research programme—delegates from Kyoto University discussed how both institutions might share knowledge, resources and links with industry.

Attended by Keiichi Hayashi, the Japanese ambassador to the UK, and the mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, the symposium was driven by many goals. These included building on the achievements of existing projects, developing new relationships, sharing practices to support innovation, providing opportunities to attract outbound investment, and setting up staff and student exchanges.

UK Leads in Benefits Poll

The UK spends six times more on disability benefits than does Japan, according to an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey issued on 27 December.

The UK spends 2.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on disability benefits, compared with Japan’s 0.4%.

The average amount spent by each of the 34 member states of the OECD is 1.3% of GDP, with only Norway and Iceland spending more: 2.8% of GDP.

Some 3.2mn people in the UK claim Disability Living Allowance, which helps them pay any extra outlays associated with their respective conditions. The allowance provides recipients with up to £120 a week, and costs taxpayers more than £13bn per year.

Belfast Ties Boost

A group of Japanese business delegates have visited Northern Ireland to strengthen bilateral trade, inward investment and tourism between the two countries, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 21 January.

On the two-day trip, the delegation—which included Keiichi Hayashi, the Japanese ambassador to the UK—held meetings with firms, stakeholders, representatives from universities and colleges, as well as members of five Japanese-owned firms.

According to a survey by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Export, over the past two years Northern Ireland has exported about £32mn worth of goods and services to Japan. 

Manufacturing businesses, meanwhile, reported that sales in Asia had totalled £416mn for the 2011–2012 period.

Survey Reveals Wealth Helps

Japan was in 25th position, while the UK took the 27th spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index, The Daily Mail reported on 2 January.

The index shows which country can be expected to provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life for babies born in 2013.

Compiled based on calculations conducted by the sister firm of The Economist, it links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries.

The index took 11 statistically significant indicators into account, including geography, demography, social and cultural characteristics, public policy, the state of the world economy and anticipated per capita income.

The findings show that being rich helps the most.

Poll Outlines Gender Salary Divide

Japan has the biggest pay gap between men and women, while in the UK the divide is higher than average, according to a study issued on 7 January.

Academics from Warwick Business School, the University of Cambridge and Canada’s Lakehead University studied 20 industrialised nations, comparing the wages of men and women who work in different occupations.

Researchers found that there was not much income inequality between men and women from different occupations, and that the biggest pay gaps are found in countries where men and women do the same work.

Report on M&A Rankings

Japan is the world’s second most acquisitive nation, while the UK is in fourth place, according to a report issued on 9 January by DC Advisory.

The leading, pan-European, corporate finance adviser’s annual merger and acquisition (M&A) rankings found that, in 2012, UK businesses and private equity firms completed acquisitions worth $76bn (£48.2bn), while the overseas acquisitions of Japanese corporations and private equity firms totalled 566 instances worth some $105bn (£66.6bn).

The US remained the top player in global acquisitions, in 2012 having completed overseas M&A investments worth $307bn (£194.8bn).

Wine Group Search for Brand Envoy

Koshu of Japan (KOJ), an organisation that promotes white wine made in Yamanashi Prefecture, has launched a campaign to find a UK brand ambassador, according to a press release issued on 15 January.

The winner will be awarded a trip to Japan, including visits to leading wineries in the prefecture and an overnight stay in Tokyo.

KOJ is involved in the overseas promotion of the wine which is produced only in Japan from grapes indigenous to the country.

Prospective candidates are asked to submit evidence of their knowledge and appreciation of the wine as well as of the Japanese region where the grapes are cultivated. Applicants should also explain how they would promote the wine in the UK market.

UK Top, Japan Fifth in Mobile Ad Spending

In 2012, mobile advertisers in the UK spent more than their counterparts anywhere else in the world per mobile internet user, according to a 7 January report by market research firm eMarketer. The same report places Japan in fifth position.

Although in absolute dollar terms, Japan is the world’s second-largest mobile advertising market, advertisers spent the equivalent of £16.70 per user, compared with the UK’s £23.15.

Norway was in second place, with £22.74 spent per user.

Honda to Cut Jobs

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. plans to cut about 800 jobs at its South Marston plant, Japan Today reported on 12 January.

The cuts will take place by the second quarter of 2013 and are due to a Europe-wide fall in demand for the maker’s vehicles.

The Japanese firm, which employs a staff of about 3,500 at its southwest England works, will continue to make cars and engines in the UK.

Festival Marks 400 Years of Links with Japan

A year-long series of cultural events has been launched in the UK to celebrate the 400th anniversary of relations with Japan, The Japan Times reported on 18 January.

The Japan400 festival will hold some 100 events, in which the first exchanges between the two countries will be explored. It will also look at developments in the areas of art, science, trade, enterprise, technology and lifestyle.

Historic Art Displayed

Miniature Japanese sculptures have been displayed at a Bolton Museum, This is Lancashire reported on 23 January.

The selection of Japanese art includes netsuke—small sculptures made of wood or ivory that were used to secure pouches to kimonos in 17th century Japan.

The sculptures depict numerous objects, including animals, people and mythical creatures.

Rare Artwork Found

A rare Japanese painting showing early 18th-century street life has been discovered in the Edinburgh Central Library’s special collections, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 4 January.

The 13.4m scroll was donated to the library in the 1940s, but its significance was only recently realised by experts in Edinburgh.

Painted by Furuyama Moromasa (1712–1772), the scroll could be the largest among his extant works. It depicts a street scene in Edo (as Tokyo was formerly known), showing shops, theatres and domestic life.