There is just one month to go before Japan kicks off the Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament on 20 September with its match against Russia at Tokyo Stadium. As participating teams finalise their preparations with a series of warm-up matches, there have been some surprising results as the top-seeded countries jostle for advantage. Just like in business, where volatility can provide unexpected opportunities for profit, tournament organisers will doubtless be hoping that recent upsets will trigger a publicity dividend.
Close to home, we have seen Wales come tantalisingly close to taking the number-one spot in the world rankings from perennially powerful New Zealand. As it is, Wales, Ireland and England approach the tournament ranked second, third and fourth respectively. Scotland is holding steady in seventh place and—to the delight of host country fans—Japan’s recent wins see it ease back into the world’s top 10.
Teamwork will be the watchword in the coming months, and the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) took this as a cue to up its game with a number of event collaborations with partner organisations in July. First, I was delighted to be invited to address the members of the British Market Council (BMC), giving a presentation entitled “The Role of the BCCJ in Supporting UK–Japan Business Relations in the Year of Japan’s Rugby World Cup”.
The BMC was originally formed by representatives of Japan’s trading houses, and this was, therefore, a valuable opportunity to gauge the current business sentiments of a number of important investors in the British market. It was also an honour to share the platform with representatives of BCCJ member firm Barclays and the UK Department of Trade and Industry, who shared insights respectively on the global economy and the UK food and beverage sector.
Second, the BCCJ was pleased this year to co-host its annual summer networking event with our partners from the Japan–British Society. Most pleasing for me was the chance to meet with the large number of Anglophiles present who wish to build their networks, but are not yet formally affiliated with either organisation. This, after all, is the primary purpose of our networking events—to encourage the formation of peer group networks and to stimulate conversations between individuals and organisations. Through dialogue we build trust, and with trust we hope to nurture business opportunities.
Notwithstanding the timing of announcements from the Japan Meteorological Agency, it felt to me that the day of the event marked the end of Japan’s rainy season. Soaked in a downpour in the morning, then desiccated by blazing sunshine in the afternoon, I remarked to guests on how the UK and Japan are both blessed to enjoy increasingly fickle and changeable weather. Ultimately, however, there are at least as many ways in which our countries are different as they are similar. The spark for conversation, though—whether it be a shared perspective or a different viewpoint—is unimportant. What matters is that there is dialogue, an exchange of views and, from there, an appreciation of (and desire to commonly pursue) our shared interests.