Publisher February 2020

War games

Bilateral partners in sport and defence

Sometimes we start a story expecting it to follow a certain path, but it veers off. Like with our piece on UK firms bidding for contracts to help stage the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

There was a major government initiative during the London 2012 Games for UK firms bidding for work at Rio 2016. Assisted by UK Trade & Investment (now part of the Department for Inter­na­tional Trade) one global event design and delivery firm, for example, scored business worth about £10 million, and a couple of our architecture firms helped design venues. There were many more.

London says its vision for the legacy of its Games “aims to use the inspirational power of 2012 to realise lasting change and growth … securing a long-term economic benefit increasing exports and attracting investment is part of this vision”.

However, I was sceptical after I heard of UK firms feeling left out in favour of local bidders. One, which had helped a Japanese partner win its bid, complained of being “cut loose once the bid was awarded”. Although it was paid for working on the bid, it felt it had lost out on revenues during Tokyo 2020 and that its future Olympic prospects had been harmed.

Even after a Memorandum of Cooperation between the UK and Japan on the planning of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was signed in 2014, cynics predicted formidable hurdles for foreign firms while local bidders enjoyed an easy game, set and match. Would this “vote of confidence in the ability of UK companies to deliver on major projects” give an edge to UK firms in winning contracts in Japan? Read this issue to find out. Our sincere thanks to the British Embassy Tokyo for helping us with this feature.

Defending spending

Our other big story this month is about another valuable sector where the UK and Japan have been getting closer: defence. With record spending and new policies, Tokyo has been hosting exhibi­tions and dignitaries from around the world to strengthen global ties and create new relation­ships for import and export opportunities. And we speak to one of our BCCJ Executive Committee members, Richard Thornley CBE, who was at a recent inaugural event in Japan.

Letter to the Editor

We encourage readers to email us about anything, and we get all sorts of comments, from “Outraged in Osaka” slamming our front cover of a Paralympian posing nude to raise money for training (June 2012), to job applications and praise for raising issues and supporting causes. Naturally, we also get a few applications for free tickets featured in our Arts section (page 34).

But we were especially moved last month to receive this heartfelt thank you letter—after the event was held:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for giving me the tickets to the ballet Romeo and Juliet. I took my mother to enjoy it together. It unexpectedly turned out to be the last opportunity for us to go out together, as she passed away last November. I’m glad I could share one more good memory with her at the last time. So, I thank you again.