President May / June 2022

Passing the baton

David Bickle OBE

Service to others is a catalyst for the energy and optimism that motivates many of the members and stakeholders of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ). Key to the foundation and functioning of a vibrant peer group network, these are qualities that buttress both personal and organisational resilience.

I am delighted therefore to see these attributes, and an accompanying appetite for service, mirrored in the determination and enthusiasm of the 2022/23 BCCJ Executive Committee. Individually and collectively, they contribute an outstanding breadth and depth of capability with which to serve chamber members and stakeholders, and I warmly congratulate Richard Lyle on being elected as BCCJ President and chair of the Executive Committee. Richard—over to you!

Richard Lyle

It is a great honour to have been elected to President of the BCCJ and I am really looking forward to serving the members of the Chamber. With Japan opening up to business visitors and the pandemic abating, these are challenging but exciting times. As President, I would like to make this an outstanding year as we get back to more in-person events and activities, to address some of the key issues of our time: climate change, the environment, aging populations and regional security threats.

Two of the Chamber’s core pillars—Responsible Business & Digital-Technology Innovation—often complement each other as we look to digitise and decarbonise our economies. The UK, with its thriving innovation and tech sectors, can help Japan in all these areas. In fact, this was highlighted in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s recent visit to the UK, where he sees great potential for Japan and the UK to collaborate to solve these challenging issues. 

Digitisation is about productivity and competitiveness, work–life balance, the health of the Japanese economy and ultimately the survival of thousands of companies. Decarbonisation is about the survival of humanity and achieving the 2030 and 2050 carbon-reduction goals. Defence is about UK–Japan collaboration in a very unstable geopolitical environment. All of this provides opportunities for partnerships between British and Japanese companies. A recent example is the establishment of the joint venture between BP and Marubeni Corporation to pursue offshore wind projects in Japan.

As our societies in the UK and Japan develop and modernise, we must also confront other issues around diversity, equity and inclusion. Discussions around this can be challenging, but we can all learn from each other regardless of our differences and through brave conversations no doubt there will be positive transformations.

The Chamber already is a fabulous place to make great connections, share views and learn new things—and of course socialise! As President, I would like to build on this and make the Chamber even bigger and better.