President September 2019

Stronger together

Teamwork matters in sport, business and research

Llongyfarchiadau! Congratulations to the Welsh national rugby team! In my column last month, I mentioned how close they had come to being ranked number one in the world. Subsequent to the August edition of BCCJ ACUMEN going to print, however, further impressive perfor­mances saw them reach that pinnacle. Together with the national teams of Scotland and England, which have also performed strongly in recent weeks, they head into Japan’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 tournament in fine fettle.

I am pleased to note, too, that it is not only the Principality’s rugby players who are stoking the fire in the Welsh dragon. In my ACUMEN column one year ago this month, I saluted the victory of Welshman Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France cycle race. One year on, sport fans will have again applauded another superhuman effort that took him to the finish line of the 2019 Tour, where he finished in second place.

Although the six-week RWC, which begins on 20 September, will undoubtedly be a fillip to the Japanese economy, it is critical to the success of the tournament that it be the catalyst of a lasting legacy for communities in Japan. To that end, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) is committed to supporting Japan’s delivery of the tournament, fostering a legacy of more inclusive communities and embracing opportunities for international business and exchange.

Working together

Effective local collaboration is often a key ingre­dient in the recipe for success in the Japan market. Success, however, can be measured in different ways. For many businesses, it is progress toward financial key performance indicators (KPIs). Modern governance, however, has begun to place greater weight on non-financial KPIs, and for some—especially not-for-profit—endeavours it is commu­nity engage­­ment and contribution that matters most.

One example is Japan’s first lifeboat service at Nebama Bay in Iwate Prefecture, where the Kamaishi locals now operate a bespoke rescue craft designed and constructed by students at United World College (UWC) Atlantic College in Wales. As most readers will know, Kamaishi was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March, 2011, and recovery is now being driven by the local community. These efforts have been catalysed by the hosting of two RWC rugby matches at the newly constructed Unosumai Memorial Stadium.

Healthy activity

It is the spirit of collaboration that gives strength to the UK–Japan bilateral relationship. Such shared endeavours are particularly prevalent in the field of science and technology, where UK Research and Innovation’s Fund for International Colla­bora­tion is supporting projects announced in August between the University of Bristol and Kyoto University, in connection with the develop­ment of cancer treatments and promotion of cognitive health.

Grass-roots collaboration flourishes here, too, with notable September events, including the International Nanotechnology Symposium and a three-day series of meetings entitled Applying Neuroscience to Business. The first, to be held in Tokyo on 16 September and organised by former Trinity College fellow and Eurotechno­logy Japan KK founder Gerhard Fasol, features 21 researchers from the University of Cambridge. The second explores neuroscience as a catalyst for innovation at the Shiseido Global Innovation Center in Yokohama, and the BCCJ is delighted to be supporting in conjunction with NTT Data, University College London and Shiseido.

Provided that dialogue like this continues to flourish, the BCCJ believes that enhanced trust—and opportunities—will surely follow.