President August 2018

Plan and prepare

How businesses can help staff be ready for anything

For the past several weeks, our thoughts have been with the people of south-west Japan. Rocked by an earthquake that struck Osaka in June, battered by torrential rains that triggered flooding and landslides, and now lashed by Typhoon Jongdari.

In a cruel twist, this latest storm had veered sharply from its apparent course to deliver further punishment to the embattled region.

With typical stoicism, the people of the affected areas will mourn their losses with dignity and show patient determination in overcoming these setbacks to embark upon the road to recovery. Infrastructure will be rebuilt, and lives, we hope, will return to normal as quickly as possible.

I would like to think that most business leaders embrace their obligation to ensure continuity of operations in the face of unexpected disruption and suffering like this, and, most importantly, to secure the safety of their people.

For Japanese and long-term resident foreign managers in Japan, it is accepted that planning must address the possibility of natural disasters. It is also important that the possibility of such events occurring be recognised by newer arrivals, whose perception of risk may have been conditioned by the comparatively benign climate and geological stability of countries such as the UK.

For that reason, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) was grateful last month to Chris Heffer, director of trade and investment at the British Embassy Tokyo. He hosted a briefing on the embassy’s protocols for responding to major disasters.

Please look out for further events after the summer recess, as the BCCJ seeks to continue providing members with information that may help them evaluate the adequacy of their business continuity plans.

On the subject of planning …
Planning, in pursuit of goals, is the fundamental activity of the BCCJ’s Executive Committee.

In line with its mission, the chamber aims to encourage bilateral business as it promotes UK–Japan economic growth and sustainability. We believe that progress can be made in attaining the mission by promoting: digital and technological innovation, which enables productivity increases and better ways to meet human needs; socially responsible business practices that impact positively on the environment, society and communities and diversity and inclusiveness.

We believe there is a growing consensus across borders and industry sectors regarding the importance of these themes, and that British business is making an important contribution to their advancement.

Each theme represents a beacon around which UK and Japanese firms can rally, and where it is hoped the exchange of experience will stimulate bilateral trust and commercial opportunities. The subject matter of BCCJ events and communications will reflect our belief in the importance of these themes, and I hope that members will appreciate the sharpened focus in chamber activities.

Rest assured that the chamber will continue to help its members make great connections, by bringing them the people who matter. Today, as I write, it was the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox. That is the BCCJ’s purpose: to help strengthen business ties between the UK and Japan.