Leaders October 2013

Strategic, Emotional Impact of the 2020 Tokyo Games

We were truly delighted to see Tokyo announced as the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games host city on 8 September.

Combining the appearance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, members of the Imperial family, and a roll call of popular sporting stars, including Paralympian long jumper Mami Sato, Tokyo’s final presentation was moving and uplifting in equal measure.

“What we have seen is the impact of the Olympic values as never before in Japan. And what the country has witnessed is that those precious values—excellence, friendship and respect—can be so much more than just words”, Sato said.

I enjoyed soaking up the historic news over a 5am pint at BCCJ member pub the Hobgoblin in Shibuya.

With the Japan Olympic Committee having worked with the British consultant who advised London and Rio de Janeiro, and the new National Stadium to be designed by a British architect, the successful bid had more than a hint of a UK flavour.

The Olympics will now become an important element of the UK’s trade strategy, and we hope the Games will offer high-value opportunities for BCCJ member firms across a variety of sectors.

UK Trade & Investment at the British Embassy Tokyo confirms: “UK companies are already positioning themselves to play a role in the planning and delivery of the Games in three broad areas: Security, Safety and Resilience; Communication, Broadcasting and Information Technology; and Sustainability and Low Carbon. Design services of all kinds are also likely to be a fruitful area. London 2012 enabled UK companies to amply demonstrate their world-leading capabilities in these areas as well as ticketing and event management”.

English language education services are also expected to experience a boost, as Tokyo moves to embrace the concept of global jinzai (talent)—already a hot topic in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Japan.

The British Council, which went with the Keidanren’s education committee to the UK earlier this year, is currently in talks with the Japanese government regarding the adoption of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the UK’s English language testing framework for university and public service entrance exams.

Taro Kono from the House of Representatives was one of the keynote speakers at the British Council’s Choshu Five anniversary event on 26 September, highlighting the strong relationship between the two countries.

On Saturday, 7 September, just hours before Tokyo was chosen as the 2020 host city, we were very pleased to collaborate on a cricket match with the British Embassy Tokyo and the Japan Cricket Association in support of local communities in Fukushima.

The day out was particularly educational for this Scottish lass, as I received a tutorial from Julia Longbottom, deputy head of mission, British Embassy Tokyo, whose daughter Natalie Sciver played a crucial part in winning the Ashes for England in August.

And, just as we are going to print, I have been accepted to run the 2014 Tokyo Marathon.

The next BCCJ Golf Day will be held on 15 November at Tsutsujigaoka—a member course affected by the March 11 disasters—in Tochigi Prefecture. This event will be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and players of all levels are welcome.