New Earth Theatre, London has been producing art and performances to shed light on the highs and lows of Japanese women living in Britain. The project, called Tsunagu/Connect, was put together by the theatre’s artistic director, Kumiko Mendl, who was inspired by her Japanese mother who moved to the UK in the 1950s. (Japan Today, 16 May)
This excerpt was taken from Takao Ochi’s 22 March article in the Mainichi Japan about the inspirational amount of disabled commentators on the UK’s Channel 4 covering the last two Paralympic Games. Translation by Kevin Rea.
“In my country, the war in Ukraine is getting a lot of coverage in the news, as well as the Beijing Winter Paralympics. But the Paralympics are even more fascinating than the Olympics!”—I was surprised at this e-mail from my friend William Penrice from the UK, whom I met through work.
Due to restrictions on coverage because of the coronavirus pandemic, I was not able to cover the Beijing 2022 Paralympics on site, but I watched them from Japan. There were also live TV broadcasts covering the Japanese athletes, but overall, there were few that conveyed the passion and exuberance of the participants. As with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Japanese athletes were very active, but I still felt dissatisfied.
The UK came in 14th in the Games (six medals in total, one gold) compared to host country China at 1st (61 medals in total, 18 gold) and Japan at 9th (seven medals total, four gold). Still, Britain is very enthusiastic about Paralympics coverage. As my friend Penrice explains, “The Paralympics are a human-interest story that people can relate to, and popular presenters and commentators cover them with a lot of care”.
Channel 4 aired the Beijing 2022 Paralympics in the UK. The channel attracted worldwide attention by broadcasting the 2012 London Paralympics every day and night. The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics were also covered from various angles using many platforms, including SNS.
More than 70 percent of the commentators on Channel 4’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games coverage were disabled, and the games were viewed by more than 20 million people, nearly one-third of the UK’s population. The Beijing 2022 Paralympics were the first in the world to be broadcast exclusively by presenters with disabilities. Each of them is well known for their regular appearances on TV programs in the UK.
Penrice said, “After the London 2012 Paralympic Games, more and more people with disabilities are hosting shows on TV, and now, 10 years later, it is the norm. No one notices the disabilities anymore”.
By not making these competitions a one-off event, but broadcasting them more widely and for longer, they have changed the impression of para-sports and people with disabilities—and have created new fans. The UK, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, is also leading the world in Paralympic Games coverage. According to a 2020 Japanese Cabinet Office survey, 7.6 percent of Japanese people have a disability. It will probably become more unusual not to see people with disabilities on TV.
In a 10 May article on Business Travel News Europe, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is set to restart direct flights between London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda for the first time since March. This comes after Japan announced further easing of travel restrictions. The westbound service will be using the northern polar route as a way to avoid Russian airspace amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. The eastbound service, leaving London, will fly through Central Asia. These flights will operate three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
A statement from the airline reads: “ANA will continue to monitor local restrictions and quarantine guidelines as well as demand trends and travel viability as it decides on the frequency of flights and when to resume certain routes”.
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark has recently been confirmed as the UK’s new Trade Envoy to Japan. On 11 May the Times of Tunbridge Wells posted an article explaining that the unpaid, voluntary role will result in the MP making regular trips to Japan.
Clark spoke on his new appointment, saying: “As Business Secretary from 2016 to 2019, I enjoyed strong relationships with Japan as a hugely significant trading partner with the UK.
“I look forward to building on this in the role, championing UK businesses and creating more opportunities for our two countries to deepen our already strong ties”.
Japan and the UK are working together in a bid to cut Asia’s reliance on Russian oil. According to a 5 May article on Markets Insider, met Prime Ministers Fumio Kishida and Boris Johnson in London to finalise details of a security pact. The discussions are expected to result in an agreement to assist key Asian economies to ramp up development of green energy, allowing for countries to step away from Russian fuels. This meeting came after the European Union suggested a total ban on Russian oil imports.
Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. agreed to return 40 unused fuel assemblies to the UK in 2021. According to Nuclear Engineering International on 24 January, the assemblies, from unit two of the Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, left the country on 22 November, and arrived at the Westinghouse Springfields nuclear fuel fabrication facility on 17 January, after being transported by land and sea.
This comes due to units one and two at the Mihama plant being permanently closed down in April 2015, with Kansai Electric announcing the start of decommissioning in April 2017. It was reported that the reactors’ electricity outputs were too low, meaning it would be unlikely to recover the costs of necessary work to safely upgrade and extend their lives.
In 2020 the UK government backed Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP)—a programme to design and construct a prototype fusion power plant—aiming to have it operating by 2040. In an article on 3 February by TechCrunch, it was revealed that Japan-based fusion energy startup company Kyoto Fusioneering has been awarded several contracts to support the programme’s development. The company has increasingly expanded abroad and has raised ¥1.33bn in its latest round of funding. Kyoto Fusioneering also secured an ¥800mn debt financing from the Bank of Kyoto, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Group and MUFG Bank, Ltd.
It was said that the funds will be used to accelerate research and expand business, developing its plant engineering technologies for plasma heating and heat extraction, which are necessary in the development of fusion reactor projects.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Japan, which was scheduled for mid-February, has been cancelled after a joint decision between the governments of Japan and the UK. A 31 January article on Nikkei Asia states that the tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine continue to intensify, making the trip difficult for Johnson. It was said that the trip was planned so the leaders could discuss the Indo-Pacific region.
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, London, has filled the vacant space where Bar Boulud used to inhabit, with an “eccentric” Japanese style izakaya.
According to BigHospitality on 9 February, the menu features dishes that would normally be found in a high-end izakaya, with a large selection of sushi, sashimi, tempura, rice and noodles.
A very popular Japanese street food vendor called Tokyo Nights will be appearing at Cardiff Market, according to a 31 January article on WalesOnline. Oliver Bryant, a Welshman from Barry, started Tokyo Nights in August of 2020 after an inspiring trip to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The simple menu will offer hungry visitors the choice of meat and vegetarian gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and steamed buns with a variety of fillings. There are plans for the venue to be expanded and more dishes to be added later on.
“Cardiff Market is such a historic, iconic building in Cardiff and to be part of the history of it is really exciting”, said Bryant. “For years to come, I’m sure my name or the business name will be somewhere in the history books because of our place there”.
A Japanese woman who moved to Wales 20 years ago is reportedly running a successful takeaway from the comfort of her kitchen. Ren Japanese Food is run by Yuko Harris and serves sushi, katsu curry, miso salmon and karaage (fried chicken).
(WalesOnline, 21 January)
Costa Coffee will be holding a buffet of sweets at the Conrad Tokyo hotel on 19 March–15 May. The sweets will be made by the hotel’s pastry chef Masateru Okazaki, using the flavours from Costa’s original blended beans, cherry blossoms and strawberries. (PR Times, 3 February)
City of London planning chiefs said they were open to building wooden skyscrapers in the Square Mile—known as the oldest part of London—mimicking building habits in Japan.
(MyLondon, 28 January)
The Mayor of Ware, Hertforshire, England, visited a care home in the town to plant a sakura tree, which was donated as part of the Japan–UK Season of Culture. (InYourArea, 9 February)
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Tokyo will collaborate with London to achieve carbon neutrality. According to NHK on 3 November, this was discussed during Kishida’s visit to the UK to attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. Kishida also explained Japan’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by pledging up to £8bn over the next five years to help developing nations.
Scientists from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility in Didcot, Oxfordshire, and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan have conducted breakthrough collaborative work. According to an article posted in Saur Energy International on 23 November, the research—published on the online news source Nature Nanotechnology—offers explanations for why perovskite materials are tolerant of defects in their structure. It is said that these findings will allow the project’s scientists to further refine how perovskite solar cells are made.
The British Embassy Tokyo and Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) will hold an online event called “UK–Japan Collaboration on Green Finance: Post COP26 Perspective” on 10 December, according to a press release from TMG. Ambassador Julia Longbottom CMG will make opening remarks and the Lord Mayor of the City of London Vincent Keaveny will deliver a keynote speech, before bilateral experts hold a roundtable discussion with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
According to a 2 November Business News Wales article, Daffodil Foods Ltd have entered the Japanese market thanks to an export deal with a Japanese importer. As the interest in British afternoon tea increases in Japan, clotted cream demand has risen. In the New Year, Japanese consumers will have access to Welsh clotted cream in various supermarkets across the nation.
“Japanese consumers have a particular interest in our British afternoon tea and we have been able to secure a lucrative deal and unlock this market”, said Lynne Rowlands, director of Daffodil Foods.
“We first began our exporting journey after a visit to the BlasCymru/TasteWales event in 2019 and shipped some of our products to Hong Kong. This export deal with Japan will be a strategic market for us going forward. We are delighted and we will begin exporting to Japan in the New Year, as they already have a number of key supermarkets interested in our product”.
Sussex-based animal welfare charity Wild Welfare has launched a digital animal husbandry programme in Japanese to support wildlife caregivers in Japan. According to a 3 November press release, the open-access online programme, called Wild About Welfare, has been available in English since early 2021.
Acting UK director at Wild Welfare, Simon Marsh, said: “Ensuring animal welfare resources are available in people’s native languages is vital in helping to make certain our charity’s work really has an impact on captive wildlife in all corners of the globe.
“The Wild About Welfare programme has been designed to upskill staff working with wild animals in captivity and give them the knowledge to be able to deliver good care and welfare”.
DAIJO PICKS PENZANCE
Japanese abstract artist, Daijo, displayed her work at the PZ Gallery in Penzance, Cornwall. The first time she exhibited in the UK, the 40-year-old artist also did live performances on two of the nights. (InYourArea, 22 November)
TRILATERAL STEEL TALKS
The US is looking to begin talks with the UK and Japan to address the nation’s objections to steel and aluminium tariffs. Secretary Gina Raimondo stated that the UK and Japan are important allies, and it was important that they work through trade issues. (Bloomberg, 9 November)
JAPAN ART AT PALACE
Japanese artefacts that were acquired by the British royal family nearly four centuries ago are to be displayed for the first time in an exhibition at Buckingham Palace. The exhibition is set to open next year. (Guardian, 18 November)
TOKYO ZOMBIE MOVIE
BAFTA-nominated British writer and director Morayo Akandé’s screenplay has been optioned by 108 Media. Set in Tokyo, the film tells the story of zombie salarymen tearing through Tokyo, with a group of workers protecting their convenience store at all costs. (Deadline, 1 November)
According to an article posted in The Japan Times on 30 September, Scottish multinational company, SSE plc, will pay ¥23bn for an 80 percent stake in one of Japan’s largest renewable energy firms, Pacifico Energy, after primarily focusing in the UK. The company is developing the 3.6-gigawatt Dogger Bank project off the east coast of England.
SSE revealed that output at its renewables unit in the UK fell 32 percent in the first half, landing 11 percent below its own target.
The company spoke on the fall, saying: “This shortfall was driven by unfavourable weather conditions over the summer, which was one of the least windy across most of the UK and Ireland, and one of the driest in SSE’s hydro catchment areas in the last seventy years”.
In a statement released by the Ministry of Defence on 28 September, it was revealed that the UK and Japan have agreed to commence formal negotiations on a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA). As the UK seeks to engage more with the Indo-Pacific region—set out in the Integrated Review in March—this agreement will assist with that goal, and enable the two countries to deepen their defence ties.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Japan is Britain’s close security partner in Asia, with shared values and common strategic interests. This sends a clear signal about our determination to deepen bilateral defence cooperation and the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region”.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “Deepening defence ties with Japan is an important part of our commitment to ensuring an open and secure Indo-Pacific and a clear demonstration of Global Britain in action.
“Our two island democracies believe in the same fundamental freedoms and a strong economic and security partnership with Japan is crucial to Britain’s long-term interests”.
Officials at the Japan DSEI arms show hinted that Japan could potentially be the next partner nation for the British-led next-generation fighter program, Tempest, which is being developed under the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. Japan has been involved with elements of the program since 2020, but according to a 16 September article posted by DefenceNews, the relationship is rumoured to develop further in the next few years.
UK program director, Air Commodore Johnny Moreton, explained: “We’ve been in negotiation, conversations and some pilot projects—nothing necessarily too complex at the moment”.
Nihon Cyber Defence, a Tokyo-based cybersecurity company, is branching into the UK by opening an office in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and offering services in both Ireland and the UK, according to an article posted on the tech website Siliconrepublic on 13 September.
The CEO—Northern Ireland-born Cartan McLaughlin—described the move as a long-term ambition. The new office will create 10 new jobs and primarily focus on the legal, accounting and critical infrastructure sectors. This is not the first time Nihon Cyber Defence has employed Northern Irish workers. The company has placed multiple master’s degree students from the city of Belfast.
In a 27 September The Japan Times article, it was reported that Japan has approved a monoclonal antibody-based treatment developed by GlaxoSmithKline PLC and US firm Vir Biotechnology Inc. after they applied to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.
The drug is called Sotrovimab and is given intravenously as a single dose. This is the fifth medicine that has been approved in Japan to treat Covid-19 cases that require hospitalisation for longer than 24 hours. A clinical trial involving 1,057 patients showed that the drug reduced the risk of death by 79 percent compared with a placebo.
London-based Market Research Society (MRS) and the Japan Marketing Research Association (JMRA) have recently partnered, strengthening the relationship between the two organisations. In a 5 October article on Research Live it was reported that this is MRS’ first partnership with an Asia-based research association.
Chairman of the JMRA, Shunichi Uchida, said: “For many years we have maintained contact with the global market by engaging with international market research organisations. This has become even more important as internationalisation has increased, and the pandemic has added to the need for us to be aware of global market conditions, trends and technical information”.
Scotland Women will play Japan on 14 November, reported an October article in The Scotsman. This will be the Scots first home match in front of a crowd for two years due to Covid-19 restrictions. The matchcoincides with the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, so will be held at Edinburgh Rugby’s new DAM Health Stadium.
Kaito Kobayashi, 25, wowed judges at the Leeds International Piano Competition. He took home the second place prize and the Marion Thorpe Silver Medal, as well as being awarded the Yaltah Menuhin Award. (Press release, 19 September)
E’quipe Ltd., a subsidiary of Kao Corporation, which launched the Japanese skincare and lifestyle brand, Athletia, in 2020, is now set to begin international expansion by making its debut in the UK in October.
(Cosmetics Design Asia, 20 September)
GAME SHOW COLLAB
Fuji TV and production and distribution company The Story Lab recently struck a co-development pact and revealed their new game show called The Spin. The companies worked alongside UK-based firm Rumpus Media Limited, which retains production rights for the UK. (Television Business International, 23 September)
LEEDS AND TOKYO SHOW
Ella Hickson’s Wendy and Peter Pan is being revived and will be showing from 18 November into January 2022 at Leeds Playhouse, England. The show was co-produced with the Bunkamura Theatre in Japan and co-directed by Jonathan Munby and Rupert Hands. (WhatsOnStage, 4 October)
The UK’s Department of International Trade revealed that Britain has secured market access to import poultry meat, in an agreement estimated to be worth up to £13 million per year, according to a 16 June article in The Japan Times. Japan is renowned for strict food safety and import control, and this market opening is the result of extensive negotiations between the UK and Japan over the past four years.
“The Japanese market will now be able to enjoy more of our unique produce, adding to an already varied collection of UK food, such as pork, beef and lamb, already available to its customers”, said British Food Minister Victoria Prentis.
“We are working hard to open new markets for our agri-food business, and this is a significant opportunity for the UK poultry sector. The market opening follows a series of complex negotiations over the last four years between the UK and Japanese officials to agree on specific animal health requirements”, Prentis added. “Benefits of this development will be felt across the supply chain throughout the UK and will open up new opportunities for British farmers”.
UK Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena said: “This is fantastic news for farmers and food producers across the whole of the United Kingdom who can now take advantage of this new market and export poultry meat to Japan—the world’s third largest economy—for the first time”.
The Welsh farming cooperative Calon Wen have recently become the first European brand to be certified organic by the Japanese government.
A 6 July article in DairyReporter said the cooperative has been exporting products to Asia since 2017, with the aid of the Mineichi Group.
Stuart McNally, business development and sales manager at Calon Wen, said: “Our future plans include expanding stockists to over 120 stores in Japan within 2021, introducing new products of Calon Wen to strengthen the brand and introducing other Welsh brands and products in partnership. For example, Tan y Castell Welsh Cakes and much more”.
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Securing new export markets, as well as maintaining and building on current ones, is crucial for the future prosperity of the Welsh food and drink industry.
“Japan has a population of 127mn, and is one of the wealthiest and more mature consumer markets in the world. Food and beverage is the largest expenditure for Japanese households and the country relies on food imports to satisfy consumer demand”.