Leaders October 2016

Shift up a gear

Busy month in UK–Japan ties

With the summer holiday season now very much behind us, the world of UK–Japan business is back in full swing. That is reflected in the issue before you, with articles ranging across trade, real estate, history, charitable work and more. And as we look ahead to the remaining few months of the year, there is yet more to come.

The clock is ticking
Preparations for the upcoming British Business Awards (BBA) continue apace, but it’s still not too late for members of the UK–Japan community to get involved.

Nominations remain open until 5pm on 28 October, and for those thinking about putting a name forward, this year’s judges give some clues to what they are looking for in candidates. Entrants are sure to come up against stiff competition—as much a problem for the judges making the decisions as the nominees themselves. I wish the best of luck to everyone.

Of course, the BBA wouldn’t be what it is without all the members of the community who come together every November. At the time of writing, tickets are still available, although naturally they are going fast. Please don’t hesitate to contact the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) to secure your place for what always proves to be a highlight of the UK–Japan calendar.

Keeping busy
Of course, BBA preparations haven’t taken up all of the BCCJ’s attentions, and yet again the chamber had a very active calendar of events in September, several of which have been covered in this issue.

One story concerns Taavet Hinrikus and the foreign currency exchange startup he co-founded, TransferWise, which has taken aim at the banks, and is looking to shake up the industry. To mark the launch of the firm’s services in Japan, Hinrikus spoke with BCCJ President David Bickle about his background and ambitions.

We have also given a round up of this year’s Community Hub event, where speakers from several firms and non-profit organisations came together to explain how businesses can best implement corporate social responsibility programmes and achieve social goals.

Business as usual
Although a timetable has now been set, Brexit continues to throw up more questions than answers. But that isn’t stopping British businesses from knuckling down and continuing to play to their core strengths.

President of Lloyd’s Japan and BCCJ Executive Committee member Iain Ferguson tells us about his firm’s key areas of business, as well as Lloyd’s deep history in Japan, with the resulting ties continuing to be reaffirmed to this day.

The automotive sector is another with strong UK–Japan links, and the rhetoric surrounding Brexit’s impact on it has gone up a notch since the Japanese government released a letter on the eve of the G20 summit in China detailing the demands of Japanese firms with investments in the UK, of which carmakers comprise a substantial portion. We examine just what Brexit might mean for the industry, and also how, with a little ingenuity, British car firms operating in Japan can carve out their own slice of what is one of the largest auto markets in the world.