Leaders April 2012

Spring Is in The Air

The weather is improving, sakura are beginning to blossom and there is, dare I say it, a sense of change in the Japanese economy. The unexpected intervention by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) on St Valentine’s Day surprised the markets, not with a box of chocolates but another slug of quantitative easing that has set the yen on a weakening trend.

Any holding up of the economy through further action will be determined by external forces, rather than more action by the BoJ. Now there is a 1% target in play for inflation; this points, once again, to the fact that actions have greater impact than words.

Spring also brings with it the BCCJ annual general meeting. This year it is being held at the Hilton Tokyo hotel in Shinjuku, and all members are welcome to attend. The event is free, but please reserve via our website.

Following the formal meeting, Sir David Warren will give a speech, his final address to the chamber as British ambassador prior to his retirement from the diplomatic service later in the year. The evening will conclude with a buffet reception.

The relationship between the chamber and the British Embassy Tokyo has grown even closer over the recent past thanks to close collaboration and recognition that a combined approach to business in Japan and the UK benefits everyone equally.

This is also my final piece for BCCJ ACUMEN as president of the BCCJ. I will be standing down at the annual general meeting after two years’ service. Much has happened during the past two years, but I have been impressed most by the positive comments received from the membership regarding what we have strived to do continuously—deliver a relevant, focused business organisation with a strong emphasis on value, provided through meetings, networking opportunities and effective business development in the Japan–UK relationship.

These things do not just happen—they have to be worked at constantly and I have been privileged to be part of a very strong team in the form of our executive committee. You see their names every month on the masthead page of BCCJ ACUMEN, but this is scant acknowledgement for the tremendous work that each member contributes throughout the year for the benefit of the membership.

I have been ably supported by two executive directors, Ian de Stains OBE and, most recently, Lori Henderson. And Samata-san, our stalwart office manager, has kept us all in order as the chamber has evolved and grown.

Last year saw the inception of our internship programme and my thanks go to Stuart Busby and Duygu Ozturk, who have worked brilliantly in helping run the office and take photos at our events.

However, the biggest thank you is to you, the members, without whom none of the hard work would be worthwhile. The BCCJ may only be the fourth-largest foreign chamber of commerce in Japan, but it is a shining light in terms of what we do and how we do it. Our twin targets for the year were to increase membership and attendance at events—both achieved magnificently—and it is testament to our success that many other chambers are studying closely what makes the BCCJ so special, and are emulating much of what we do. But we are not complacent. Our goal will remain to become the best chamber of commerce in Japan, and our mantra “Making Connections”.