Editor May 2017

Strong support

For D&I and UK firms

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) lies at the heart of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s (BCCJ) mission, with the chamber regularly hosting events on how firms can support minority groups in the workplace, and the benefits of doing so. At BCCJ ACUMEN, D&I is something that we take seriously too, and it was in this spirit that we convened a roundtable for this issue to discuss the issues facing women in the workplace.

Moderated by Jane Best OBE, chief executive officer of Refugees International Japan, the conversation covered areas such as childcare, education and the role that men have to play in bringing about change. And we followed this by profiling two of the participants (Maiko Itami and Xue Wang), as well as taking a look at two other women making waves at British firms in Japan (Rina Akiyama and Rachna Ratra).

One of the recurring points you hear in the debate around working women is the importance of role models, who can serve as mentors and inspiration for other women in their careers. In early April the BCCJ was fortunate to host arguably the most high-profile female leader in Japan—Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo. We cover her comments on achieving a work–life balance, encouraging women to work and her plans to maintain and advance Tokyo’s status as one of the world’s great cities.

Two-way street
In addition to focusing on D&I, this issue also homes in on one of the other core aims of the BCCJ—championing British businesses doing well in Japan.

One of the key people helping UK firms achieve their goals in the country is three-time British Business Awards winner Steve Crane. As a co-founder of the not-for-profit organisation Export to Japan, Crane has helped facilitate entry into the Japanese market for a number of firms, and he tells BCCJ ACUMEN about the work of Export to Japan and some of the organisation’s most exciting projects.

Not every British firm is just taking its first steps in Japan of course, with many having established strong reputations built over years of hard work. But while the scale and extent of Japanese investment into the UK is well known, what is perhaps less appreciated is the level of activity in the other direction. We take a look at those firms making an impact in Japan and their commitment to the market here.

Who dares wins
One particular sector that looks set to make a mark in Japan is security and defence. With Japan taking a more proactive stance in regional security and the UK and Japan enjoying ever-deeper cooperation in defence, British firms are starting to see new possibilities. This has been helped by proposed UK–Japan collaboration on an air-to-air missile and a joint strike fighter jet. Find out more here.

While the economic benefits of arms exports more generally are certainly not in doubt, how to conduct them in a responsible and moral way is a contentious subject. It is an issue that Ian de Stains OBE tackles in his If You Ask Me column, looking at how such sales are conducted and whether they can live up to their ethical billing.