Media January 2014

news in brief

Tokyo Insurer Buys London Group

Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. has acquired Canopius Group Ltd. as part of its ongoing overseas expansion, Japan Today reported on 19 December.

The Japanese insurer is a unit of the NKSJ Group, the country’s third-largest casualty insurer in terms of market value.

Sompo plans to retain Canopius’ 560 managers and staff, to gain expertise in Western markets. The privately held UK firm will bring a “significant presence in the speciality insurance market to the NKSJ Group”, according to a statement released by the Japanese parent company.

The bid is valued at ¥99.2bn. The agreement is said to be mutually beneficial, as there is little overlap in business areas and geography between the two firms.

Pharma Firm to Hire First Foreign Exec

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. has poached its next chief executive from Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline Plc., The Asahi Shimbun reported on 30 November.

Christophe Weber, who is French, is expected to become the drugmaker’s chief operating officer before May, and eventually replace Yasuchika Hasegawa as president.

The Osaka-based firm is under pressure to expand its global presence and diversify its corporate management. More than half of Takeda’s sales are overseas, and non-Japanese staff account for two-thirds of its workforce of 30,000.

Push for UK-style Nuclear Agency

A senior Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) official said the government could establish a UK-style agency to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, The Economic Times reported on 5 December.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is now managing the shutdown of the plant, but many people feel it has floundered in its efforts for nearly three years. Tadomori Oshima, head of the LDP’s task force on disaster-related reconstruction, admitted it was likely the government would have to take responsibility for closing the plant.

He has been pushing for a national body, such as Britain’s National Decommissioning Authority, to coordinate the job.

Airline Adds Route

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has added a new direct route between London and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), the Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings website reported on 19 December.

The new service, which is effective from 30 March, will make ANA the airline offering most international flights to and from Haneda.

In the UK, the carrier will launch its “By Design” campaign, focusing on the beauty of Japanese culture and the country’s tradition of excellent service.

Travel Tips Issued

VisitBritain has issued a list of guidelines for dealing with foreign tourists, including the best way to treat Japanese, the Daily Mail reported on 4 January.

The tips concern how to properly deal with a range of guests from abroad, referencing the BBC comedy Fawlty Towers as an example of how not to communicate with foreigners.

The tourism agency’s guidance says Japanese visitors are the most demanding, as they expect their every need to be attended to and anticipated without it being expressly communicated. Japanese also prefer softer alternatives to the word “no”, it added.

Band Plans Three Gigs at Tokyo Dome

The Rolling Stones have announced they will hold three concerts here this year, Japan Today reported on 5 December.

The shows are currently set to take place at the Tokyo Dome on 26 February, 4 March and 6 March. Tickets went on sale on 18 January.

Mick Taylor, a former guitarist with the band, will perform with the group during this year’s “14 on Fire” Japan tour. Mick Jagger, now 70, said in a statement that he “can’t wait to return to Tokyo”.

Iron Lady Played Key Role in Sunderland Plant Bid

Margaret Thatcher was reportedly instrumental in securing the deal that brought Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. to the UK, Wirral News reported on 3 January.

According to correspondence formerly classified confidential, the former prime minister had promised tax breaks to the automaker’s president in exchange for the firm’s investing in the UK. The deal that was eventually signed resulted in Nissan’s construction of the Sunderland plant in the late 1980s.

The documents also reveal that Thatcher had to intervene in a Cabinet-level dispute that could have threatened the landmark project, which she personally lobbied Nissan’s chief and Japan’s then-prime minister to obtain.

Staff Win Trip to Toyota HQ

Two auto technicians, one each from Bolton (Greater Manchester) and Helston (Cornwall), have won a trip to Japan to attend Toyota’s 23rd Annual Assembly of International Customer Service Champions, Car Dealer reported on 18 December.

Body technician Daniel Barlow and paint technician Tony Glover were crowned victors of the 2013 Toyota and Lexus Customer Service Competition, hosted by the Toyota and Lexus Academy in Nottingham.

The competition, comprising written and practical exams, was designed to encourage training in brand-specific auto repair skills.

Game Show to Air Abroad

The format rights to a popular Japanese game show have been picked up by a UK production company, the C21Media website reported on 14 December.

UK-based Zig Zag Productions was one of four firms to acquire Ultimate Brain, a comedy programme originally aired on Japan’s NTV. The show gathers a group of intellectuals to solve a series of tasks, such as how to climb a slope covered in lotion.

Zig Zag is an independent production house that previously has been successful with its imports from, and exports to, the Japanese market.