Executive Director March 2019

Partners for progress

Bringing UK and Japanese firms together for the common good

Day to day, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) seeks out and nurtures voluntary and colla­bora­­tive relation­ships between various parties to connect the private sector with national govern­ments, the international community, civil society and other stakeholders. As with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 17, this can often be with a view to achieving a common purpose or undertaking a specific task and to share resources and benefits.

Gender equality

On 8 March, to mark International Women’s Day, we jointly presented an event entitled “Balance for Better” with two global financial institutions—Barclays Bank plc and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). Also joining the event were many BCCJ members and friends, including colleagues from the Bank of Japan, the British Embassy Tokyo, GlaxoSmithKline plc and the W20, the women-focused dialogue that will be part of June’s G20 summit in Osaka. Being able to host the event for about 150 guests at SMBC’s Tokyo headquarters in Marunouchi helped amplify the gender parity message and demonstrated how we, together, can extend our reach and influence on this crucial topic.

Personally, I was thrilled to have two such senior Japanese male business leaders—Barclays Chair­man Tetsuya Kodama and SMBC Head of International Business Masahiko Oshima—speaking with sincerity and authenticity at this diversity and inclusion event. It would have been unimaginable four or five years ago.

Local partnerships

Engagement with—and promotion of—host cities is a pledge of our Rugby Alliance project, which seeks to foster a legacy of more inclusive, global communities. The effort is being built on the back of this year’s Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC), which is expected to draw more than 400,000 visitors to Japan.

Beyond tickets, it is estimated that the tourna­ment will generate a total output of about ¥437.2bn (£2.97bn), boosting the national gross domestic product by ¥216.6bn (£1.47bn).

This month, I made a rare business trip out­side of Tokyo to visit the governmen­tal offices of Kobe City and meet with key representa­tives. Kobe Misaki Stadium will host four of the 48 RWC matches, including fixtures featuring England (26 September), Scotland (30 September) and Ireland (3 October).

Check out the Rugby Alliance Facebook page for more updates on our activities, which will include outreach messages from the 12 RWC host cities.


In addition to these headline figures, the RWC is nurturing a diverse legacy and has begun to hold promise for regional economies, businesses, communities and families.

For our second large-scale event of the month, we will be co-hosting with our Rugby Alliance colleagues a session entitled “Diversity in Rugby”. The lunchtime gathering and panel discussion on 26 March will be opened by Akira Shimazu, chief executive officer of the RWC 2019 Organising Committee, and closing remarks will be given by RWC 2019 Executive Director Rob Abernethy. Our panellists will be:

  • Keiko Asami, World Rugby board member and former head coach of the Japan Rugby Women’s Sevens team
  • Magnus Hansson, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover Japan
  • Fiona Taag, head of Global Sponsorship & Europe Marketing Communications at DHL
  • Koji Tokumasu, president of the Shibuya International Rugby Club, senior director of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee and honorary president of Asia Rugby Football Union Pte Ltd

Surrounded by 200 delegates from eight foreign chambers of commerce, you will see the power and potential of rugby in a completely new light. Seating is limited, so be sure to secure your ticket soon through the BCCJ website.

Business 20

The B20 Summit took place at the Keidanren Kaikan on 14–15 March, and I was very pleased to join the UK delegation, representing the voice of British business.

The summit brought together leading busi­ness associations from across the G20 countries with international groups such as the World Trade Organi­zation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Discussion focused on sustainable develop­­­ment goals for Society 5.0 in the following areas:

  • Digitalisation
  • Trade and investment
  • Energy and the environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Health

Japanese officials appearing at the summit were:

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs Gaimu Diajin
  • Minister of Finance Taro Aso
  • Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Motegi Toshimitsu
  • Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko
  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda

The UK delegation was led by Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who is featured on our cover page this issue. Supporting her were Ben Digby, CBI director of Trade and Investment, and Guy Dru Drury, CBI chief representative China SE NE Asia.


As always, to deliver high-quality events and infor­ma­tion services for our members, we are striving to ensure that the BCCJ achieves peak perfor­mance. Thank you to every company that submitted proposals for our website redevelop­ment project and individuals who sent in their CV for our assis­tant events coordinator position. At the time of writing, the selection process for both projects is still underway.