London vs Tokyo

UK-Japan News September 2019

Gen Z Loves UK Capital

A September 2019 study by international online property platform Nestpick ranks London the best out of 110 cities for Generation Z (those born between the mid-1990s and the early-2000s). Tokyo is 48th. London’s compatibility with Gen Z principles, ability to meet educational needs and strong business opportunities were key. The study was conducted to determine which cities best meet the needs of Gen Z, “the creators, advocates and pioneers of tomorrow”.

World’s safest cities

The Safe Cities Index 2019, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), lists Tokyo as the world’s safest city. The scale—which ranks cities based on personal, infrastructure, health and digital security—places London 14th. According to Irene Mia, the EIU’s global editorial director, European cities generally perform well in health security but “tend to struggle in the category of digital security”. London is the only European city in the top 10 in this area.

Mizuho in LSE first

UK-Japan News September 2019

Mizuho Securities Co., Ltd. has become the first Japanese partner of the Paris arm of the London Stock Exchange Group’s London Clearing House (LCH), according to a 2 September story in The Trade News. “As a member of LCH SA, Mizuho will benefit from the largest pool of euro debt clearing in Europe. Clearing through the LCH SA enables us to maintain access to this important liquidity pool while managing our counterparty risk effectively,” said Amandine Triadu, head of credit and emerging markets repo in London, at Mizuho Securities.

Brexit: UK falls to last in G7 Growth

UK-Japan News September 2019

As reported by The Guardian on 30 August, the UK has fallen to the bottom of the G7 growth league table. Japan, meanwhile, saw a boost of 0.4%, behind only Canada and the United States. Experts believe the drop was caused by stockpiling in the lead-up to the original Brexit dead­line of 29 March, as well as weak car production. Firms are now probably stockpiling again on account of the government’s no-deal preparations, which could boost growth. But economic prospects once the UK leaves the European Union remain unclear.

AIM Startup Targets ¥5bn

UK-Japan News September 2019

Uhuru, the Japanese startup backed by SoftBank Group Corp., is expected to raise ¥5bn in the lead-up to its listing on London’s junior alternative investment market (AIM) on 23 October. This will give the only Japanese firm on the AIM board an assessment of more than ¥30bn, according to a 30 August story on Deal Street Asia. The startup is appointing Andrew Rose, who recently retired from asset manager Schroders plc, as an out­side director at the end of September. Arden Partners plc and SMBC Nikko are advising Uhuru.

West Country baker at Hankyu

UK-Japan News September 2019

Bristol bakery Pinkmans will take part in Hankyu Department Store’s annual “Best of British” fairs in Tokyo and Osaka from 5 to 20 October. As British Baker reported on 19 August, Pinkmans is planning to send their food and beverage manager and head baker to supervise. “It’s a real honour to be invited,” said co-owner Steven Whibley. “This is such a fantastic opportunity for our bakers and to put Bristol on the international culinary map”.

News Briefs

UK-Japan News September 2019

Prints inspire poets

In collaboration with the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, hundreds of UK-based poets wrote haiku inspired by the Japanese prints on display as part of the Masters of Japanese Prints: Nature and Seasons exhibition. To kick off the show on 5 September, Bristol poet and emcee Bertel Martin and senior curator Kate Newnham hosted workshops and presented haiku from contributors. (Literary website Call of the Page)


Climber Coxsey grabs bronze

Britain’s Shauna Coxsey took home the bronze medal at the Climbing World Championships in Hachioji on 20 August. Despite placing third, the climber was in high spirits. “It is still not over”. The same week saw Coxsey secure a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Climbing is one of five sports that will make their Olympic debut. The others are karate, skateboarding, surfing and baseball, which returns after being dropped following the 2008 Beijing Games. (BBC Radio 2, 19 August)

EU fines Hello Kitty €6.2mn

UK-Japan News August 2019

Sanrio Co., Ltd., the owners of the famous British talking cat and other beloved Japanese children’s characters, has been hit with a fine of €6.2mn (¥762mn) by the European Union (EU). 

As reported in a 7 July article in The Asahi Shimbun, the penalty is for restricting cross-border online sales of toys and merchandise. The EU Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said Sanrio’s practices could lead to “less choice and higher prices for consumers, and is against EU antitrust rules”. The investigation began in 2017 as part of the EU’s hope for a “digital single market”.

First Japanese people in England

UK-Japan News August 2019

Thomas Lockley, a Japan-based British professor at Nihon University College of Law in Tokyo, is close to finishing years of comprehensive research on the largely forgotten tale of the first Japanese people to visit England. In a 4 June story in The Mainichi, Lockley expressed how important the Japanese were to the English in 1589. These visitors made Japan “real” and not just the talk of dreamers. Lockley said his work has attracted interest from potential publishers.

Prince Charles to visit Tokyo

UK-Japan News August 2019

Although Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May, the formal enthronement will not take place until 22 October. At the request of the British Government, Charles will represent Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at the ceremony, the Evening Standard reported on 13 August. During the two-day visit, the Prince will participate in events that celebrate UK–Japan connections. His last visit to Japan was in 2008.

Smiling Cinderella wins Women’s British Open

UK-Japan News August 2019

Hinako Shibuno, the 20-year-old golfer who had only been outside Japan once before competing in this year’s Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf and Country Club near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, captured not only the title but also the hearts of the UK crowd. As The Guardian reported on 4 August, Shibuno’s bright attitude, high-fiving of spectators and penchant for snacking her way around the links earned her the nickname Smiling Cinderella. And as in the story, it was a last-minute turn of events that brought on a fairy-tale ending as Shibuno sank a putt from 18ft to edge out American Lizette Salas by one stroke in her major championship debut. She is the first Japanese golfer to win the Women’s British Open.

Abe asks UK to avoid no-deal Brexit

UK-Japan News August 2019

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has implored British Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to take a no-deal exit from the European Union (EU). In a 24 July story, The Japan Times said the request was included in a message congratulating Johnson on his election. Abe advised Johnson to continue cooperating with leaders of the business world. Abe said he hopes to see an efficient Brexit that minimises the impact on Japan-affiliated firms in Britain. Johnson has vowed to leave the EU with or without a deal.

Team GB to bring most fans to Tokyo

UK-Japan News August 2019

Great Britain is expected to garner the most support of a visiting nation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games according to a 23 July story in The Telegraph. Team GB, which saw only 280 fans follow them to Rio de Janeiro on official travel packages in 2016, has received more than 4,000 enquiries for Tokyo 2020 packages. To boost numbers, Team GB is generating local support around its training facili­ties, including the performance lodge at Odaiba Bay High School, Yokohama Inter­national Pool—where British swimmers and divers are preparing—as well as Keio University and the Todoroki Stadium. All these venues are already posting locally made signs that read “GO-GB2020”.


News Briefs

UK-Japan News August 2019

Skateboard prodigy eyes Tokyo Olympics

Half-British, half-Japanese Sky Brown, an 11-year-old skateboarder who calls Japan home, has been added to Great Britain’s national team. Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Brown will be 12 when the Olympics take place and, if Team GB qualifies for the competition, she will be the youngest ever British Olympian. (CBS News, 2 August)

Oxford picks Waseda

To coincide with the Rugby World Cup 2019, organisers at the University of Oxford chose Waseda University in Tokyo as hosts the World University Rugby Invitational Tourna­ment 2019, to be held in September. Founded by Oxford in 2015, the crowdfunded tournament was created to generate more attention in the game at the university level. As of 15 August, ¥6.26mn had been raised, 125% of the ¥5mn goal. (J.Funding, 15 August)

Bilateral honours won in South Korea

Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto and Britain’s Duncan Scott won silver and bronze respectively at the International Swimming Federation World Championships, held 12–28 July in Gwangju, South Korea. Matsumoto set the Japan 200m freestyle record, but was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Duncan Scott’s podium protest of gold medallist Sun Yang of China, who is facing a lifetime suspension for test meddling in 2018. (The Mainichi, 24 July)

UK exports to japan hit £16BN

UK-Japan News July 2019

UK exports to Japan grew nearly 7% in 2018–19 to more than £16bn, according to the Department for International Trade (DIT). The rise was thanks to new initiatives and a reduction in barriers by the Japanese government, according to Business Link Japan Chief Executive Steve Crane writing in The Telegraph on 11 July. His team is behind Export to Japan, whose Premium Partners are the DIT, Japan Airlines and Custom Media, publishers of BCCJ ACUMEN.

Firms in a range of sectors—including electrical machinery, fashion, food, drink, transport and pharmaceuticals—have seen benefits from Tokyo’s warmer welcome. Cultural changes are also making it easier to enter the Japanese market. An increase in the number of English-speaking staff at Japanese firms, coupled with a desire to cut costs, means that, in many cases, it is no longer necessary to partner with a large local business.

In London, the DIT offers support to small and medium-size ente­r­­prises looking to do business in Japan and elsewhere. This includes trade missions, informative events and trade advisers, all of which can help UK firms big and small get a piece of what looks to be an even stronger market in 2019.

Great Britain‘s unified team of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales became the first European women’s squad to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the Lionesses’ 3–0 win over Norway on 28 June. The victory came in the quarter-final of the FIFA Women‘s World Cup France in Le Havre. (BBC, 29 June).

New Sumo Film

UK-Japan News July 2019

British filmmaker Matt Kay premiered Little Miss Sumo on 30 May at the Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo.

As The Mainichi highlighted in a 3 June story, the film documents the journey of 21-year-old sumo champion Hiyori Kon as she prepared for the 2018 Sumo World Championship in Taiwan.

Eat Creative joins Fusion

UK-Japan News July 2019

Alison Jambert and Fusion CEO Simon Norman

Communications agency Eat Creative, founded in Tokyo in 2000 by former British Chamber of Commerce in Japan President Alison Jambert along with Ayako Chujo and Steve Martin, has become part of the Australia-based Fusion Group according to a 28 June story in Campaign Asia.

Looking to grow in Japan and Asia–Pacific, Fusion sees the addition of Eat’s experience in the challenging Japanese market as a key asset. “The partnership for Eat means we can offer our clients an extended range of services across Asia–Pacific, allowing us to develop a broader knowledge of retail disciplines and channels and expand the geographical footprint of our agency,“ said Jambert. ”Being part of the Fusion family also gives us the opportunity to partner with our sister agencies and deliver a best-in-class team, allowing Eat to focus on our core services”.

Envoy visits Wales

UK-Japan News July 2019

Japanese Ambassador to the UK Koji Tsuruoka visited the Sony UK Tech­nology Centre in Wales. According to a 20 June article in Business News Wales, this marked his first visit to the facility. Afterwards, Tsuruoka stopped by Tri-Wall Limited, a manu­facturing firm in Monmouth, before attending a reception in celebration of the long-standing friendship between Wales and Japan. The reception, hosted by the Welsh government, is part of the kick-off of the Japan–UK Season of Culture 2019–20 initiative.

Scotch Draws Kyoto Native

UK-Japan News July 2019

Highlander Inn owner Tatsuya Minagawa’s love of whisky brought him from Japan to Speyside in 1998.

According to a 27 June article by Scottish Licensed Trade News, Kyoto-born Minagawa began working at the inn in 2005 and purchased the hotel in 2015. Under his management, the Highlander Inn expanded its collection from 70 to more than 300 whiskies. Today, travellers from all over the globe visit to taste the extensive range of blends curated by Minagawa.

News Briefs

UK-Japan News July 2019

Rugby tackles tattoo ban

While body ink has long been taboo in Japan—particularly in hot springs—its prevalence in other countries has led the oper­ators of onsen facilities to rethink the usual ban. The financial prospects of some 400,000 expected Rugby World Cup (RWC) visitors may be spurring change.

Dozens of baths in the towns of Beppu and Yufuin, Oita Prefecture, have already announced that they will allow tattoos during the six weeks of the RWC 2019, which kicks off on 20 September. (The Guardian, 8 July)

Sacred Figures in London

As part of the UK in Japan 2019–20 initia­tive, the British Museum will display 15 rare Buddhist and Shinto sculptures.

All the sculptures are on loan from Nara Prefecture and date from the seventh century. The collection, which includes Japanese National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, can be seen this autumn. (Broadway World, 13 June)

N. Irish priest Gets Rising Sun honours

Father Jude McKenna, a Capuchin Franciscan priest from Northern Ireland, has received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, from Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland Mari Miyoshi.

The 84-year-old judo expert lived in Zambia from 1966 to 2017. During his mission there, he promoted the martial art, and for that the Ballymoney native caught the attention of the Japanese government. The Order of the Rising Sun is given annually to people “who make a very signi­ficant contribution to the spread of Japanese culture”.
(Catholic News Agency, 8 July)

London rolls out Azuma trains

UK-Japan News June 2019

The first train in a new 65-strong fleet has been rolled out by London North Eastern Railway (LNER), according to a 14 May story in The Guardian. The Azuma high-speed train, manufactured by Hitachi, Ltd., will operate on the 300km stretch between London and Leeds.

The LNER plans to extend the Azuma services as far as Edinburgh by the end of this year. David Home, managing director of LNER, said the Azuma is “more reliable, stylish, environmentally friendly and accessible” than anything in the existing LNER fleet of 45 trains.


UK joins Huawei ban

UK-Japan News June 2019

Amid the US-led investigation into Chinese tech giant Huawei, leading global carriers have suspended sales of the firm’s new 5G smartphone. According to a 22 May CNN story,  the decision came soon after Google severed ties with Huawei.

Others are following suit, with EE and Vodafone—two of UK’s largest mobile networks—stopping sales over security concerns. Japan’s three largest carriers, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank have also taken measures.

Tokyo awards medical honours

UK-Japan News June 2019

Lord Ara Darzi of Denham, director of the Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, has received one of Japan’s most prestigious awards: the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Professor Darzi, the college reported in a press announce­ment, was recognised for his global efforts in healthcare and significant contribution to UK–Japan relations in medicine, including patient safety. His dialogue with the government of Myanmar recently resulted in the release of two Reuters journalists.

Back to nature, Japan style

UK-Japan News June 2019

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, decorated a Japanese-inspired garden for the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2019. The garden, entitled Back to Nature and co-designed by the Duchess with Andree Davies and Adam White, showcased elements of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept of forest bathing. “She brought the concept to meetings, noting how office workers escape to the trees in Japan for lunchtime respite,” The Huffington Post reported on 20 May. Find out more highlights from the Chelsea Flower Show and three Japanese designers who won honours for their inspiring creations.


Brits win medals in Yokohama

UK-Japan News June 2019

Commonwealth Games champion Jade Jones-Hall won the women’s World Para­triathlon Series in Yokohama. Jones-Hall finished 30 seconds ahead of the US’s Kendall Gretsch, the 2016 world champion. As the BBC reported on 18 May, Jones-Hall was not the only Brit to take home honours. Team­mates Fran Brown and Claire Cashmore both left with medals. Brown won silver in the PTS2 race, and Cashmore won silver in the PTS5 race. Meanwhile, Melissa Reid, who finished with bronze at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, took bronze here in the PTVI class. On the men’s side, Steve Crowley finished fifth in PTS4.


News Briefs

UK-Japan News June 2019

Home Builders in JV
One of Japan’s largest builders has entered into a joint venture with government body Homes England and UK developer Urban Splash. About 300,000 new modular housing units are expected to be built in the next few years.
(The Financial Times, 14 May)

World Firsts for new Lush  Tokyo Store
UK-based retailer Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics plans to open its Asia flagship store in Shinjuku this summer. It will be the largest Lush store outside the UK and the world’s first digital shopping experience. (Japan Today, 22 May)

No More paper forms
The Home Office scrapped all landing cards for Japanese and international air and sea passengers as part of its new “e-gate” electronic logging system. The move extends e-gate services, previously open only to the European Economic Area, to all travellers. (BBC, 16 May)

London hosts huge manga expo
As part of UK in Japan 2019–20, the British Museum unveiled the world’s largest manga exhibition outside Japan. Running until 26 August it showcases manga and anime history from 19th century drawings to Pokémon, created in 1996. (The Independent, 22 May)

RWC: Cold Beer will never run out

UK-Japan News June 2019

In preparation for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019, a visit to Japan by event sponsor Heineken has led to concern over a potential beer shortage. According to The Sun on 4 April, Heineken representatives found a small bar with only five kegs of beer at one of the RWC venues. Compare that with London’s Twickenham Stadium, which stocks 1,300 kegs.

An official at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, which will host six RWC matches in September and October as well as the final on 2 November, was surprised to see how much alcohol rugby fans consume. “A spectator [in Japan] typically drinks one glass of draft beer during a soccer match, but rugby watchers [abroad] consume four to six glasses per person,” she said.

Heineken is optimistic that Japan will devise a plan in time for the tournament. Hisafumi Tezuka, head of the organising committee’s catering section for the 12 RWC venues assured the Asahi Shimbun on 12 December that “we’ll serve beer cold, and it will never be sold out”. So, it seems to be an issue about which organisers are already aware.

Matlock climber makes history at Toyama falls

UK-Japan News June 2019

James Pearson, a world-famous climber from Matlock, Derbyshire, made history when he and his team climbed Japan’s highest waterfall. According to a 16 April story in the Matlock Mercury, Pearson scaled the 350m Shomyo Falls in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, for a film produced by US outdoor products firm North Face Inc. Of the thrilling feat, Pearson said, “You can’t really compare this experience with the other climbing I’ve done in the past”.

Museum Reopens

UK-Japan News June 2019

A flurry of requests has resulted in the reopening of a Surrey museum dedicated to Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki (1867–1916). As one of Japan’s first govern­ment-sponsored scholars sent abroad, he was dispatched to the UK from September 1900 to December 1902 to do research. In honour of his contributions, Soseki appeared on the ¥1,000 note from 1984 to 2004. After having been open for 32 years, the museum closed in 2016 due to financial difficulties, according to a 19 April story in The Japan Times.


VIPs Mark Kohima Battle

UK-Japan News June 2019

Dignitaries from Japan, the UK, Myanmar and the US commemorated the 75th anni­versary of the Battle of Kohima, which was fought from 4 April to 22 June, 1944, during the Burma Campaign of WWII. Digital news plat­form EastMojo reported the theme of the day as “Remembrance, Reconciliation and Rebirth”. British High Commissioner Sir Domini Anthony Gerard Asquith KCMG reaffirmed the bond between India, Japan and the UK, saying that the nations stand toge­ther “as three big democra­cies”.