Mihama returns nuclear parts

UK-Japan News February 2022

Mihama nuclear power plant

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. 

Kyoto secures fusion funding

UK-Japan News February 2022

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. 

PM Johnson cancel trip

UK-Japan News February 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson aboard a government aircraft
Photo: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

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.

London hotel launches izakaya

UK-Japan News February 2022

Photos: Tokyo Nights

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. 

Welsh rugby fan offers gyoza, buns in Cardiff market

UK-Japan News February 2022

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”.

PMs in talks to cut carbon

UK-Japan News December 2021

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.

Solar cell advance

UK-Japan News December 2021

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. 

London and Tokyo hold green finance seminar

UK-Japan News December 2021

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.

Welsh cream soon in stores for tea fans

UK-Japan News December 2021

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”. 

NPO makes online bilingual service

UK-Japan News December 2021

Photo: Wild About Welfare

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”. 

News Briefs

UK-Japan News December 2021

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)

Photo: Royal Collection Trust

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)

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)