Scots buy stake in wind energy firm

UK-Japan News October 2021

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”. 

Deeper defence ties

UK-Japan News October 2021

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”.

Arms show hints at tempest talks

UK-Japan News October 2021

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”.

Belfast cyber jobs

UK-Japan News October 2021

Belfast, Northern Ireland

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.

GSK drug gets ok

UK-Japan News October 2021

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 and Tokyo join forces for market research

UK-Japan News October 2021

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”.

Rugby: Scots-Japan match moved

UK-Japan News October 2021

Scotland Women’s National Rugby Union Team

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. 

News Briefs

UK-Japan News October 2021

PIANO PRIZES

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)

ATHLETIA EXPANDS

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)

Poultry gains import access

UK-Japan News August 2021

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”. 

Welsh cheese certified organic

UK-Japan News August 2021

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”. 

Selection of cheeses on a Welsh slate cheese board comprising of Smoked Irish Cheddar, Danish soft cheese coated with pineapple and almonds and Gorgonzola.

Udon chain for London

UK-Japan News August 2021

Famous Japanese noodle restaurant chain sanuki udon has arrived in London, according to a 27 July article in The Japan Times. Marugame Seimen Inc., operator of sanuki udon and subsidiary of restaurant chain operator Toridoll Holdings Corp., opened the eatery on 26 July at the City financial centre.

Toridoll executive Takashi Sugiyama said: “Now is a good time to open a restaurant [in Britain] as Covid-19 restrictions in the country have been eased substantially. We expect to see a recovery in demand for dining out”.

Nissan boosts EV output

UK-Japan News August 2021

Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., is boosting its electric vehicle operations in Britain, as was revealed in an article posted on 2 July on NHK WORLD-JAPAN. The company is teaming up with partners to spend more than £1 billion to boost output, as well as begin construction on a huge battery plant. Nissan’s new EV model will be produced in its Sunderland, England, factory. 

MOD: More talks on aero engines

UK-Japan News August 2021

The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 20 July that London and Tokyo will speed up talks regarding the joint development of aero-engine technologies, in a bid to support future aircraft programmes in the two countries, after a meeting between UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace and Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi. 

According to the 21 July article on defence news website Janes, the MoD said: “Both ministers agreed to intensify efforts toward a bilateral arrangement between both ministries that is necessary for implementing that collabo­ra­tion of power and propulsion systems if it is agreed to be conducted”. 

TV: East meets West

UK-Japan News August 2021

According to a 20 July article posted to online Hollywood news site Deadline, Japanese entertainment company Nippon TV has partnered with London-based media outfit Envision Entertainment. The first collabora­tion will be a series inspired by the show Double Booking—a hit in Japan. 

 Future programmes will share Eastern and Western sensibilities, and be filmed primarily in English, making the works watchable for a global audience.

News Briefs

UK-Japan News August 2021

Ishiguro listed for booker prize

Japan-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro has been longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize for his eighth novel, Klara and the Sun. The author previously won the award in 1989. (28 July, BBC) 

Samurai gift for Olympics

A group of Japanese artists are creating samurai for all of the competing countries in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including a UK samurai, and a Welsh samurai called Gigs.
(23 July, Nation Cymru)

British Museum shows Hokusai

The British Museum, London, will begin showing 100 picture postcard-sized Hokusai drawings from 30 September to 30 January 2022. It is the first time the works will be on display in two centuries.
(20 July, The Guardian)

Rugby star moves to Japan

Northampton Saints rugby star, 25-year-old Harry Mallinder, will be leaving his current club with immediate effect, to begin playing in Japan ahead of the 2021/22 season. (22 July, Ruck)

Expats granted lifetime vote

UK-Japan News June 2021

The British government is set to remove the 15-year limit on voting abroad, giving expatriates lifetime rights in general elections. In a 27 May article published by The Telegraph, it was revealed that UK ministers believe expatriates should still have a say in elections, regardless of where they live. Members of Parliament believe election results still affect those living overseas, especially in regards to areas such as foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals. 

It was also recognised that ministers debated whether these rights for expats should extend to referenda. 

Cabinet Office minister Lord Nicholas True said: “In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country. 

“These measures support our vision for a truly global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live”. 

Sumitomo, Vodaphone enter African market

UK-Japan News June 2021

Trading firm Sumitomo Corporation has teamed up with Vodaphone Group Plc to offer mobile services in Ethiopia. 

In a 24 May article published by Nikkei Asia, it was revealed that the collaboration includes the CDC Group, a UK government-owned development finance institution. 

This will make Sumitomo the first Japanese firm to enter the African mobile phone market, and it is said that they will hold a stake of just under 30 percent. 

Sony, Hitachi back Huma

UK-Japan News June 2021

Huma provides solutions for monitoring patients’ health

According to a 12 May press release, British healthcare technology firm Huma has raised more than £92 million in investments from a number of firms. Initial Japanese invest­ment was strong, with funding coming from firms, such as Hitachi. The present round of funding has attracted contributions from Samsung and Japanese companies including Sony, as well as an individual investment from former SoftBank President and CEO Nikesh Arora. Invest­ments in Huma have also come from British firms, such as Unilever PLC. The funds will be used to expand the firm’s digital platform to the US, as well as Asian and Middle Eastern countries. 

TPP to start talks with UK

UK-Japan News June 2021

Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss (left), chairs a CPTPP event in London last year. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

According to a 2 June article by Nikkei Asia, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s minister in charge of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, revealed that the members of the TPP have agreed to start negotiations for the UK’s entry into the partnership during a virtual meeting of the TPP Commission. The final decision is set to be made next year or later. The UK had filed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) earlier this year following its with­drawal from the European Union. 

At the start of the process, a joint statement said it “provides an opportunity to advance the CPTPP’s high-standard rules for the 21st century and further promote free trade, open and competitive markets and economic inte­gra­tion in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond”.

Devon cheese

UK-Japan News June 2021

In a news article posted on the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board 2021 website on 27 May, it was revealed that a world-famous cheddar from Devon, England, will begin exports to Japan. The cheddar is made by Quicke’s, an artisan cheese producer. 

“Japan is a hugely important market for our cheese exports as it’s a wealthy economy, with an understanding in their culture of excellence in food and the value of artisan production”, said Mary Quicke MBE, the 14th generation of the Quicke family. 

It was said that this new deal will increase Quicke’s export figures, which saw 41 tonnes of cheese shipped overseas last year, worth a reported £400,000 to the family business. 

NPO awards tobacco firm

UK-Japan News June 2021

The non-profit Investors in People commu­nity interest firm have awarded Japan Tobacco International (JTI) the first “We
invest in well­being” platinum accredi­tation. According to The HR Director, JTI is the leading tobacco company in the UK, and has been recognised for their high standards regarding employee wellbeing. 

The award is based on an assess­ment of the social, physical and psychological well­being of a firm’s employees. It was found that JTI UK meets the award’s frame­work requirements. 

News Briefs

UK-Japan News June 2021

Ospreay heads home
The New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion firm has confirmed that British wrestler Will Ospreay returned to the UK for treatment after sustaining a neck injury. This has forced him to vacate the IWGP World Heavyweight Title. (Metro, 20 May)

JX Nippon looks to sell oil assets

JX Nippon is looking to sell its British North Sea assets—which include stakes in some of the basin’s biggest fields—that it acquired on entering the basin in 2002. The deal is expected to bring in more than ¥163 billion. (Reuters, 25 May)

Faith in jab differs
Based on a survey conducted of 15 countries, Britons have the most faith in the Covid-19 vaccination with 87 percent saying they trust the jab. This is in stark contrast with Japan who reported the lowest levels of trust at just 47 percent. (BBC, 4 June)

Sakura in Cheadle
Ninety-nine cherry trees have been planted in Bruntwood Park, Cheadle to celebrate bilateral relations. The trees are some of the 6,500 ones given as part of the Japan–UK Season of Culture 2019-2021. (Marketing Stockport, 28 April)

Sky Brown qualifies for Tokyo Olympics
Less than one year after fracturing her skull, the 12-year old British–Japanese skateboarder, Sky Brown, is set to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. This would make her Britain’s youngest summer Olympian ever. (Sky News, 24 May) 

CEPA events gain early results

UK-Japan News April 2021

Photo: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

The Express reported on 3 April that the new UK–Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is showing impressive results. The agreement—signed by Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss in October 2020—was predicted to boost the value of business between the two countries by £15.7 billion. The Department for International Trade (DIT) began a new virtual series of business-focused UK­–Japan Trade Missions called Partnering with Japan: Spring ’21 Free Trade Agreement series, to mark the new chapter in relations. It was said that 600 companies attended the virtual launch on 2 March, and more than 1,600 have taken part so far. As a result, it has been revealed that the agreement is already paying dividends. 

In her keynote speech at the UK–­Japan Free Trade Summit in January, Truss said, “Japan was instrumental in making this high standards agree­ment happen through its vision of a group of like-minded nations wanting to shape global trade in the right way”.

Robotics deal boosts bilateral nuclear ties

UK-Japan News April 2021

Photo: Tepco

The UK and Japan have agreed to a research collaboration to help with nuclear decom­missioning. According to a 20 January press release issued by the UK government, the £12m robotics project will assist in the safe decommissioning in Japan of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors, as well at Sellafield, the multi-function nuclear site in the UK north-west. The project has been named LongOps, reflecting the plan to develop robotics-related technologies—such as long-reach arms—to carry out safe and efficient decommissioning of nuclear plants. 

Adrian Simper, group strategy and technology director at the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said: “Robotics offers us new ways to tackle our complex work safely, securely and cost-effectively. This unique international collaboration allows us to pool expertise and experience from Japan, working together and investing in cutting-edge ways to find solutions to our shared problems and benefit our clean-up mission”. The collabora­tion, to be funded by UK Research and Innovation, the NDA and TEPCO, is expected to last four years. 

Mitsui to invest in Scots carbon project

UK-Japan News April 2021

St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire Photo: Callan Chesser

According to a Reuters article posted on 3 March, Mitsui & Co., Ltd has announced its investment in a British carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, and has taken a 15.4 percent share in Storegga Geotechnologies Ltd. The latter firm is developing projects to store carbon dioxide emissions in empty oil and gas reservoirs. A wholly owned subsidiary of Storegga Geotechnologies—Pale Blue Dot Energy—will lead the project, which is expected to be up and running by the mid-2020s. The project is expected to capture about 340,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions at the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 

Rugby inspires yakitori chef in Wales

UK-Japan News April 2021

Photo: Tokyo Nights

Tokyo Nights, a yakitori restaurant based on Barry Island, Wales, is planning to expand by opening a street food stall in Cardiff. According to an article on 22 March by Barry & District News, chef Oliver Bryant was inspired by his trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup in 2019. “I saw an opportunity in Wales, as yakitori was pretty much unknown. I spent most nights during lock­down practising my Japanese chicken butchery skills acquired by watching YouTube videos and cooking up the skewers on a rubbish electric grill I bought on eBay”, Bryant revealed. 

Tokyo data claims Brexit shift to EU

UK-Japan News April 2021

A 9 March article, posted by the political news organisation Politico, reveals that, between 2014 and 2019, the number of Japanese firms in the UK fell 12 percent: from 1,084 to 951. This is in contrast with the growing number of Japanese firms moving to EU countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy. The figures are derived from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) data analysed by Rudlin Consulting. Managing Director Pernille Rudlin said, “Given that this is against the trend elsewhere in Europe, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it is a reaction to Brexit”.

Champ’s return ends with defeat

UK-Japan News April 2021

Photo: Nardisoero via Wikimedia Commons

Badminton champion Kento Momota was knocked out of the All England Open quarter finals in Birmingham by Malaysian Lee Zii Jia, according to a 20 March story in The Asahi Shimbun. It was Momota’s first competition after a year-long absence, following a January 2020 car crash when he fractured his nose and right eye socket. “I did not play well and I was rushing through the points and that’s why I couldn’t play my game”, he said. 

News Briefs

UK-Japan News April 2021

Udon chain to debut in London

Famous Japanese restaurant Marugame Udon—which has more than 1,000 eateries in Japan—will be making its way to the UK this summer. The Japanese restaurant chain will be opening a 372-square-metre establish­ment on Liverpool Street, London. (Eater London, 22 March)

Gilts: buy, buy, buy!

In January, Japanese investors bought UK govern­ment bonds at the quickest pace on record. The investors bought £5bn worth of gilts, the biggest
monthly figure recorded since 2005 by the business, market news, data and analysis provider Bloomberg. This followed the Brexit deal. (Financial Times, 12 March)

Hitachi starts work on North-East trains

Hitachi Rail has begun welding passenger trains in the town of Sedgefield, after investment in the north-eastern UK factory climbed to £110m. The trains, to be used for intercity transport by East Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast, will have high-tech aluminium carriage shells. (Press release, 5 March)

Global release for Ishiguro book

Now available in book stores across the world is the first novel since 2015 by the award-winning, Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Titled Klara and the Sun, it is a dystopian science fiction novel that centres on Klara, an artificial intelligence-powered robot. (NHK WORLD-JAPAN, 2 March)

Covid-19: UK–Japan update

UK-Japan News February 2021

Haneda Airport (left) / Heathrow Airport (right)

Everchanging restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus have impacted travel between Japan and the UK yet again, media in both countries reported. Beginning 18 January, the British government requires anyone returning from a foreign country to provide journey and contact details through GOV.UK before departure. They must also self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.

Japan has implanted new restrictions as well. On 24 December, all new entries by foreign nationals who had been in the UK for 14 days prior were barred from entering due to a new Covid-19 strain that had been found in the UK on 8 December. Then Japan closed its borders to all new foreign entries on 28 December. No end date has been specified.

On 13 January, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga implemented further entry rules for business travellers, students and all other non-resident foreign nationals from multiple countries, saying they will no longer be allowed into the country. Japanese nationals and long-term residents may still enter provided they have had a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure.

Vaccine progress

According to a 10 January article in Nikkei Asia, the British government believes the Japanese arthritis drug Actemra, also known as tocilizumab and atlizumab, is effective in treating Covid-19. It has been found to lower the mortality risk by 24% and shorten hospital stays by seven to 10 days. 

The Japan Times reported on 9 January that the drug was developed jointly by Osaka University and the Japanese firm Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has described the clinical trial results as another landmark development in finding a way out of the pandemic.