Leaders August 2014

Power of inspiration

From little acorns do oak trees grow

I have to confess, I am a fan of inspirational stories. It was therefore much to my delight that, while producing this special issue, I came across some truly uplifting and thought-provoking anecdotes, none more so than those in “ACUMEN at fifty” (page 18).

Launched in a period of economic uncertainty from an apartment, when other publications were migrating to digital media, the magazine has survived—and thrived—against the odds. Now celebrating its 50th issue, ACUMEN punches well above its weight, as arguably one of the most authoritative voices in Japan’s business community. It is a testament to the possibilities available if we are open to them.

Setting goals
Opportunities are certainly something that Ken Noguchi is always keen to grasp. I had the privilege of interviewing the celebrity alpinist and environmentalist for this issue (page 32). A real inspiration to young people, as a teenager he had refused to let suspension from school set him back on his dreams; instead, he used the time wisely, to travel.

It was during this time—after he found motivation from reading a book by a fellow adventurer—that he discovered a love of mountain climbing. He isn’t one to be intimidated by a challenge, either. At the age of 25, he became the youngest person to scale the seven highest peaks in the world, and he now plays a leading role in the campaign to clean up Mt Fuji.

RIJ: leading the way
Another inspirational person is Jane Best OBE, who was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for her exemplary work with Refugees International Japan in Asia and Africa. Best received the OBE from British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens in June (page 53).

Through her positivity she has shown the impact individuals can have, and how, with support, displaced people can be empowered. Congratulations Jane!

Love your work
This month, it was also my pleasure to meet Koichi Obi, a Japanese designer of British-style homes, who is so passionate about his job that no obstacles seem to dismay him (page 46).

On one occasion, following a request from a client to design a building based on the style of some original doors from the Royal Albert Hall, London, he learned that there were no original bricks available.

Unwilling to give up, Obi found that a firm was firing authentic bricks to repair the building, and asked if they wouldn’t mind adding some to the kiln for him. His enthusiasm and determination in the face of such challenging situations is no doubt a factor in his success.

The best of British
Finally, the upcoming BCCJ British Business Awards will not only celebrate the excellence of individuals and firms, but also showcase UK–Japan achievements (page 11). Attendees can expect an uplifting evening as there have been many reasons to celebrate the bilateral ties over the past year.