Anniversary August 2014

Our best picks

Top covers

June 2014
Even looking at the cover showing the charity Executive Fight Night event is enough to make the more squeamish among us wince.

Five participants in the most recent Fight Night were Brits, with Elizabeth “Hot Hands” Taylor emerging as the overall winner of the May event. It was held in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, and raised more than ¥6mn for the Shine On! Kids charity.

All the fighters went through a gruelling 12-week training programme, before being allowed in the ring. Speaking to ACUMEN after her victory, Taylor said, “Boxing was totally new for me. Training was the highlight—in a way, being in the ring was like a performance, to see how much you learned in training”.

Taylor, a former in-flight service manager with Virgin Atlantic and a black belt in karate, added, “the experience brought back the fighting skills inside me”.

June 2012
Maya Nakanishi is one brave athlete.

Not only did she fail to let an industrial accident—that resulted in the amputation of her right leg below the knee—get in the way of her sporting endeavours, but when the funding for her to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games came up short, she shed all her clothes for an artistically photographed calendar that raised funds for her to compete.

However, ACUMEN’s cover photo was not to all our readers’ taste—there was one letter of complaint—but the firm does not regret promoting Nakanishi baring all, including her prosthetic limb, in her bid to compete in what has been labelled the greatest Olympics of all time.

May 2011
Sleek, swift and packing a punch, the Eurofighter Typhoon was put forward by a European consortium as the answer to the needs of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force in a new generation of fighter jets.

Andy Latham, vice-president of Typhoon Exports, based at the BAE Systems offices in Warton, Lancashire, described the aircraft as “the most capable air-defence fighter that is available today in the export world”.

Headed by the British contingent, the Eurofighter consortium pitched the aircraft on performance, participation and price—although the Japanese government eventually decided to go with the rival Lockheed Martin F-35 Raptor, primarily as the US has traditionally been the largest supplier of defence equipment to the military here.

February 2012
This sweet cover told the tale of a Scottish-Japanese couple who had great success in bringing together such Japanese delicacies as wasabi, yuzu (citrus fruit), black vinegar, nettles and seaweed in their tasty concoctions.

William and Suzue Curley’s London boutique outlets in Belgravia and Richmond, as well as a spot in Harrods, have earned them a firm following among aficionados. The Muscovado Caramel won the award for the best-filled chocolate in 2011 and Suzue is always on the look-out for new Japanese tastes to incorporate into their creations.

April 2012
Charlie Harper, founder and front-man of English punk band the UK Subs, stomped noisily across this front cover on his way to give a concert in Sendai. This event was part of a Japan tour that included performances in Tokyo, Hakata, Hiroshima, Osaka and Nagoya—underlining the popularity of a group that has been on the road since 1976.

The band’s guitarist, Jet, is from Sendai and was in the north-east of Japan when the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck. Harper and the band said they wanted to add a date in Sendai to the tour, to try to give a sense of “normality” back to some of the people worst affected by the disasters.

Top stories

Interview with Michael Woodford
September 2012, January 2014

Not many people have made the lead story in two editions of BCCJ ACUMEN, but if anyone deserves such recognition, it is Michael Woodford MBE. The straight-talking Scouser rose swiftly through the ranks of Olympus Corporation in the UK and Europe, before being appointed president and CEO of the entire firm in April 2011.

Six months later he was fired, after having asked questions about the equivalent of £1.45bn in payments for “Mickey Mouse” firms that the Olympus board could not answer. After the full story of the fraud came to light, Woodford won plaudits from the international business media for blowing the whistle on wrong-doing.

Interview with EU chief
February 2011

ACUMEN, incredibly, again scooped the magazine of the European Business Council in Japan by interviewing the first European Union ambassador under the European External Action Service framework and head of the EU delegation to Japan.

Schweisgut provided ACUMEN with an exclusive insight into Europe’s attitudes on trade with Japan, as well as politics, the death penalty, child abductions and his goals during his four-year term in Tokyo.

One of Schweisgut’s key aims was to push ahead with the planned Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Japan and Europe, an ambition that is today nearing fruition, while the Austria-born ambassador set out plans for broader cooperation and collaboration in both the political and economic arenas.

Three months after the interview, the EU and Japan agreed in Brussels to discussions on an FTA that could be worth a staggering ¥12.69trn to the two economies.

Four centuries of friendship
April 2013

Precisely 400 years after the first diplomatic mission from the UK set foot in Japan, the two nations marked four centuries of trading, diplomatic, scientific and cultural relations with a year-long series of events. The Japan400 festival got under way in London at the end of January 2013 with the opening night of Anjin: The Shogun and the English Samurai at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

The play tells the true story of William Adams, a sailor from Kent who is believed to have been the first Englishman to arrive in Japan, and his friendship with Tokugawa Ieyasu. Adams was shipwrecked in 1600 off what is today Oita Prefecture. He became one of the shogun’s most trusted advisers and paved the way for King James I’s emissaries when the Clove, the ship carrying them, arrived on the island of Hirado on 11 June, 1613.

Return to Tower Bridge
May 2012

Saran Outen spent several weeks in Japan waiting for the perfect weather and tide conditions before setting out into the Pacific Ocean aboard Gulliver, a 7m rowing boat that she is using for the ocean crossings during her journey around the world by boat and bicycle. That initial foray was not successful, but a later attempt on the 4,500 nautical miles of the North Pacific went according to plan, and she is presently cycling across the North American continent.

Outen, from Oakham in Rutland, started her London2London challenge by rowing beneath Tower Bridge on 1 April, 2011, and aims to once more pass beneath the iconic bridge in 2015.