Leaders May 2016

Our environs

Local and global impacts

While most household recycling systems in the UK have been introduced over the past 20 years, the country’s green thinking goes back much further. In the 19th century, the familiar figure of the rag-and-bone man was seen nationwide, collecting unwanted textiles, bones and other material from households. Towards the end of the period, charity shops were established. These enterprises called on the public to donate unwanted items to help support the needy.

It is perhaps thanks to this legacy that more textiles are recycled in the UK than in some other advanced nations including Japan. However, given that 75% of the UK’s unwanted textiles are thrown away—according to the Ethical Fashion Forum—efforts in this area are still largely considered inadequate.

Lynn Wilson of Zero Waste Scotland, a government-funded body, travelled around Japan to uncover what the UK can learn from the global leaders in recycling technology.

In the news
Japan’s ivory trade made headlines on 28 April with a BBC report on the existence of illegally poached ivory in the Japan market. We feature the findings of a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit group founded in London more than 30 years ago. It shows that the registration system put in place to identify and stop illegally obtained tusks from entering Japan instead is facilitating the trade.

Global events
Ahead of the Group of Seven Summit to be held in Ise-shima, Mie Prefecture, on 26–27 May, BCCJ ACUMEN explores the hot topics that may make the agenda.

Murray Barnett of World Rugby spoke to members and guests of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan in April. He outlined what makes the purpose of the Rugby World Cup 2019 different from that of the 2015 tournament, and the reasons that Japan may embrace both the sport and the event.

Another Japan visitor, David Nelson of UK architecture firm London + Partners, considered the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in a speech in Minato Ward. He noted that, while the capital’s buildings are in harmony, there is a shortage of public spaces. In addition, he gave advice on the possible design legacy of Tokyo 2020.

It is heartening to see the support from across the country that has been given to the people of Kumamoto Prefecture following the earthquakes that struck the area, commencing on 14 April. Involved, too, are those from overseas who now call Japan their home. We feature some recovery efforts on the ground and how you can help—and stay safe.

This month, as part of our “Where are they now?” series penned by former participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, we feature an article by Sarah Parsons who, after a period of 20 years, returned to her Japanese hometown as part of the programme’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

As a result, she aims to further strengthen UK–Japan bilateral ties—a task in which, as this issue shows, many in business, sport, science, culture and other areas are excelling.