Leaders November 2012

The British Chamber of Commerce (in Japan)

“In Japan”. The two words are part of the BCCJ name.

However, they are two words that we often do not spend much time considering when we discuss the chamber.

We are quite happy to talk about our Britishness—the wonderful work carried out by the British Embassy Tokyo; our natural-born leadership in the areas of fashion and design; the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; Brompton Bicycle Ltd’s folding bikes; frying fish; the Union Jack; the pub; and, of course, our sense of humour.

And we can talk about commerce and the superb work being performed here by so many British firms, entrepreneurs and individuals until the Ben & Jerry’s cows come home.

But how often do we really focus on Japan? By “Japan” I mean the rather substantial part of the country that lies outside the 23 wards that make up the Tokyo metropolitan area. Yes, the chamber and its members have shown great heart in reaching out to the northern-eastern part of the country by supporting the resilient communities of Tohoku following last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. But, how often do we, as a chamber, highlight the latest developments in Osaka, or share photos and tales of gatherings in Nagoya or Fukuoka? These are all thriving commercial centres, where British interests continue to go from strength to strength.

The chamber recently took part in a meishi exchange in Osaka, marking the BCCJ’s first participation in the networking event in recent years. Held on 25 October, the Kansai International Meishi Exchange was held in order to bring together Japanese businesses and their foreign counterparts. More than 20 BCCJ members were represented at the event, during which existing ties were strengthened and new partnerships were built. And in this issue of BCCJ ACUMEN, we feature regions outside of Tokyo that are actively trying to attract foreign firms to do business there, including an interview with a senior figure of a visiting delegation from Hyogo Prefecture.

Following this positive start, I am sending out a clarion call to our members and British interests throughout Japan. Raise your hands and your voices, and help us understand ways in which we may help you and how we might spread the BCCJ throughout Japan!