Media July 2013

News in Brief

BCCJ Firms’ Relief Efforts Help Tohoku SMEs

British firms in Japan have devised a special programme to reinvigorate businesses in Tohoku that were affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, The Japan Times reported on 29 June.

Members of the BCCJ—including member firms GlaxoSmithKline K.K., Unilever, Jaguar Land Rover Limited and HSBC Holdings plc—assisted with relief operations, sent supplies, and raised ¥8.3mn to fund projects designed to help small firms and communities in the region.

Although the amount of financial aid given was relatively small, the BCCJ’s Back to Business initiative—according to which BCCJ members travelled to disaster areas to identify businesses and communities requiring specific assistance—has been identified as special among foreign chambers of commerce in Japan and the international community’s relief efforts.

The BCCJ can also act as a channel for British firms interested in setting up operations in Tohoku.

Poll Reveals Peaceful Nations

Japan is the sixth-most peaceful country in the world, while the UK is in 44th place, according to the 2013 Global Peace Index, issued on 11 June.

In its annual report, the Institute for Economics and Peace ranks 162 countries. It measures security in society, the extent of conflict and the degree of militarisation. From this one can see how world peace has changed over time.

The poll shows that levels of peace in the surveyed nations have fallen 5% since 2008, and that in recent years the number and intensity of internal conflicts have risen. Meanwhile, the number of intra-state hostilities have fallen.

Topping the list is Iceland, with its political stability, low homicide rate and small prison population. Japan, with strict laws on the possession of firearms and good relations with neighbouring countries, has come in sixth. Afghanistan was in last place.

Countries are assessed based on 22 indicators that measure internal peace, as well as on external peace indicators.

The report reveals that the major threats to peace exist within—rather than outside—national borders.

Bangor Biscuit Firm Receives Big Order from Tokyo Retailer

A Bangor-based biscuit firm has won orders for its shamrock-shaped shortbread and oatmeal biscuits from Japanese retailer Otomo Shoji, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 17 June.

Grace’s Traditional Irish Biscuits has received orders from the Osaka-based business—which has about 100 shops in Japan—following an internet inquiry.

The biscuit maker, focused on building sales in global markets, has given a boost to other Northern Ireland firms involved in developing and shipping the biscuits.

Sandwich Index’s Priciest Cities

Tokyo is the seventh most expensive city in the world while London is in eighth position, according to a survey for holidaymakers conducted by and released on 13 June.

The Club Sandwich Index, now in its second year, uses the most common item—the club sandwich—on hotel menus around the world as an affordability barometer for holidaymakers.

Geneva took the top spot as the most expensive city in the world in which to order the sandwich. The average price there is £19.96. The leading provider of hotel accommodation found that the same item costs, on average, the equivalent of £13.57 in Tokyo and £13.53 in London. New Delhi remained the cheapest destination in which to buy the sandwich (£5.97).

The average price is calculated from actual prices paid by guests for the snack in 30 hotels—in five, four and three star categories—either in the capital or an important tourist city of the country being considered. In all, 840 hotels worldwide were surveyed.

Fashion Brand’s 30th Anniversary

A designer is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of her first shop in Japan, the Daily Telegraph reported on 7 June.

Today there are 94 Margaret Howell stores across Japan, nine having opened in the past year, and others scheduled to do so later in the year. In the UK, the brand has just four stores and one outlet.

The designer attributes the brand’s success here to a combination of consistently high-quality design and fabrics.

Not only is Japan the third-most important market for the British fashion industry, but it is also often the starting point for the expansion of British brands in Asia.

Unusual Board to Be Displayed in Kent

Chiddingstone Castle in Kent is to exhibit a shogi board as part of its celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the establishment of British trade relations with Japan, Kent News reported on 6 June.

Sets for playing shogi—a Japanese game similar to chess—traditionally have had pieces and the board made of wood, while more luxurious sets had lacquered boards, decorated with gold.

However, the board to be exhibited in Kent—on loan from the Horniman Museum in London—is made of Japanese Kutani porcelain and is thought to date from the 19th century.

Football Team Sign Global Deal

Manchester City Football Club will join forces with carmaker Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. to take advantage of the team’s growing popularity, Mancunian Matters reported on 12 June.

The deal will see the oldest car manufacturer in Japan become the English Premier team’s official automotive partner in Indonesia next season—the first football club to do so in Daihatsu’s 106-year history.

In summer, and as part of the club’s South-East Asian tour, City players will travel to Indonesia and film a TV advert for the motor firm.

TV Show Spotlights Popular Lake District

The Lake District is to be the focus of an episode of the Tabi Salad TV programme, broadcast to more than 9.6mn viewers in Japan, The Westmoorland Gazette reported on 14 June.

The visit reflects an increased interest in the area, which has long been a popular destination for Japanese tourists due to their interest in the Beatrix Potter books.

The area is the second-most popular destination in the UK for Japanese tourists.

Man Sues Travel Agency

A man from Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, who believes he was abandoned by his tour guide at Heathrow Airport, is suing Hankyu Travel (Osaka), the Japan Daily Press reported on 7 June.

The man, who speaks very little English, is seeking ¥4mn from the travel agency for the pain and suffering he claims he endured after being left alone in a strange place.

There is a strict luggage screening policy at the airport and, it seems, the tourist missed his flight following his random selection to have his luggage inspected. Unable to find his tour guide he missed boarding his flight, and was left behind.

The man’s lawyers believe the tour guide should have remained in the airport to help the passenger.