Media March 2014

news in brief

Pension pots growing

Pension assets in the UK hit a record high in 2013, for the first time surpassing the value of similar assets in Japan, The Actuary reported on 6 February.

The UK pensions market is now worth £2trn and is the second largest in the world, after that of the US. Pension assets have increased more in the UK than in any other country over the past 10 years, with the ratio of such assets to gross domestic product having grown from 64% to 131%.

In Japan, this ratio fell 3% to 65% over the past decade.

Floods a costly risk

A new index shows that Japan and the UK are among the top 10 nations at greatest economic risk from flooding, in sixth and seventh place, respectively, the Western Morning News reported on 19 February.

Risk analysis firm Maplecroft Ltd., based in Bath, Somerset, produced the rankings, which assessed 197 countries.

Japan was also ranked first worldwide for its absolute economic exposure to all natural hazards. The UK ranks 16th in this category.

Dyson invests millions in robotics

British inventor Sir James Dyson CBE is developing an affordable robot to perform household chores, in competition with Japanese rival firms, the Daily Mail reported on 9 February.

The entrepreneur has announced a £5mn investment in a new robotics laboratory at Imperial College London. He says his goal is to develop a “new generation of robots that understands the world around them and will be able to clean the house, put out the bins and even keep an eye out for intruders”.

Waseda University in Tokyo has already unveiled a humanoid robot, called Twendy-One, to help with housework and in nursing care facilities. The robot is expected to go on sale in the next few years.

London experts to share security lessons with Tokyo

Cyber-security experts were invited from the UK last month to meet Tokyo government officials, in preparation for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Japan News reported on 10 February.

The visiting experts were in charge of cyber-security for the 2012 London Games, and will include members of the public and private sectors.

The official Olympic website and other portals were subjected to cyber-attacks 160mn times during the 2012 Games, and the UK government spent about ¥300bn for online protection measures. Tokyo hopes to learn from London’s experience in order to take proper precautions against hackers.

Drink blends tastes of East and West

An entrepreneur has created an energy drink that blends Japanese matcha tea with traditional British flavours, The Japan Times reported on 3 February.

Vivid Drinks founder James Shillcock got the idea while working at a teashop in London. He believes matcha is a healthy, refreshing caffeinated beverage alternative. His new line of drinks includes ingredients such as elderflower, pear and rhubarb.

The brand is now sold in more than 200 shops in Britain and in one supermarket chain, but Shillcock remains cautious about pursuing exports to Japan.

Tokyo stages “1D” day

To promote the release of UK band One Direction’s first movie on DVD, “1D Celebration Day” was held in Tokyo’s Shibuya area on 11 February, according to a 13 February report by

The day’s programme included gift bags for anyone who collected rubbish and brought it to an event organiser; thousands of fans took part despite the freezing weather. Four buildings around the famous “scramble” crossing also showed messages from the boy band on huge outdoor screens.

Madame Tussauds Tokyo launched its One Direction exhibit the same day, with a press event that included 40 lucky fans.