Profile of BMC
According to its constitution, the aim of the BMC is to “contribute to establishing and maintaining sound and stable trade relations between the UK and Japan.”
1. Activities for trade promotion
Since it was first set up in 1973, the BMC has been implementing various projects in order to promote imports from the UK as well as for Japanese industries wishing to set up operations in the UK. In 1988, the British Government started a campaign to promote exports to Japan called ‘Opportunity Japan’. The original aim of the campaign still continues today but under different slogans. In response to this export promotion campaign by the UK government, the BMC established a task force in 1988 (called Import Promotion Committee in 1998 and then the Trade Promotion Committee in 2003) to support the following activities:
Trade fairs and exhibitions, market surveys, publications
Sending and hosting trade missions and product-related missions to and from the UK
Promoting investment between the UK and Japan; promoting Anglo-Japanese industrial cooperation, sometimes also in third country markets
Forums and seminars about the Japanese market; arranging speakers for such meetings; providing information and advice
The expenses incurred for these activities are mainly subsidized by membership fees for the Trade Promotion Committee. For events considered to be especially meeting the target aims of the BMC, subsidies were provided by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and are currently by a few numbers of Foundations.
2. Activities promoting Anglo-Japanese partnerships and friendships among member companies
In order to promote partnerships between the two countries, the BMC holds the following events with the support of the British Embassy in Japan, as well as working its network to bring about other events for members:
New Year party
A New Year party is held in end-January attended by approximately 150 members and guests.
Trade Promotion Committee meetings
The meetings are held annually in the middle of April to discuss and decide which projects of the British Embassy are to be supported by BMC.
Annual meeting and regular meeting at the British Embassy
The BMC annual meeting and regular meeting in June are held in the New Hall of the British Embassy, with reception for members and Embassy staff afterwards.
Anglo-Japanese business partnership seminars hosted jointly by the British Embassy in Japan and the BMC
Since 1999 there have been fourteen annual seminars held jointly with the British Embassy at the British Hills (a British-style lodging and events hall in Fukushima). Since 2014 seminars are held in Tokyo for convenience of guests.
Christmas party at English Pub HUB
At every year end, a party is held with approximately 70 people attending.
Ⅲ. Its History
In 1973, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (then known as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry) sent the first mission group to the UK to promote imports. The BMC was then set up as a private organization by members of the mission group. Taiichiro Matsuo, leader of the mission group, became Chairman, and remained in the position for 25 years. In July 1998, Shinroku Morohashi, Senior Corporate Advisor to Mitsubishi Corporation, became the new chairman until Shigeji Ueshima, Counselor to Mitsui & Co., Ltd., took over in June 2006.Kenji Miyahara, Honorary Adviser to Sumitomo Corporation, was Chairman since June 2011 and Teruo Asada, Chairman of the Board of Marubeni Corporation was Chairman since June 2015. In June 2021, Yoshihisa Suzuki, Vice Chairman, Member of the Board of Itochu Corporation became the 6th Chairman of BMC.
The British government first started promoting imports to Japan in 1988 with its Opportunity Japan campaign, followed by Priority Japan in April 1991, which ended successfully in March 1994. The Action Japan campaign then began in April 1994, continuing as New Action Japan after April 1998. The campaign changed its name to Trade Partners UK in May 2000, bringing all imports -promotion campaigns targeting foreign countries under one slogan. Preceding this in 1999, the British government had set up British Trade International. This merged in 2003 with the Investment Sector to become UK Trade & Investment.
GREAT 2012 Campaign has begun since 2012, which is to let people know strength of UK in various fields using such logo as “Fashion is GREAT Britain” “Make it in GREAT Britain” “Innovation is GREAT” and “Business is GREAT” etc. and to promote expansion of business opportunity. BMC is collaborating in this campaign.
Ⅳ. Recent Activities
The BMC conducted the following financial support to the projects by the British Embassy in fiscal year 2022 (April 2022-March 202) :
UK pavilion at CEATEC 2022
CEATEC 2022 was held in person at Makuhari Messe from 18 to 21 October 2022 and online from 1 to 31 October. The UK pavilion featured exhibits and technology introductions from eight UK companies operating in Japan.
The UK companies exhibiting and their areas of technology are listed below.
① SS＆C Blue Prism: RPA for enterprises, Robotic Operating Model, process mining tool to identify tasks to be automated.
② Chromacity Limited: Design and manufacture of next generation ultrafast lasers.
③ Global Connector Technology Limited: Special connector and cable assembly solutions.
④ Imagination Technologies KK: IP solutions for semiconductors.
⑤ Parkopedia Japan Limited: Connected car services based on parking data and car navigation systems.
⑥ Tractable Limited: AI solutions to assist early recovery from motor vehicle accidents and natural disasters.
⑦ whats３words Limited: Location identification and routing tool by 3-word address.
⑧ ZeroLight Limited: Cloud-based real-time 3D visualisation.
On 21 October 2022, from 14:15 to 15:00, HE Julia Longbottom, the UK Ambassador gave a speech on 'The Current Technology Development from the UK and its Prospects' on the Talk Stage, followed by a lecture by Cambridge Consultants, a member of the BMC. Cambridge Consultants explained the history of the high-tech cluster in Cambridge, UK, the driving forces behind it, the role of academia in driving innovation, and the unicorn companies that have spun out of Cambridge Consultants.
CEATEC 2022's achievements include: the number of visitors to the UK Pavilion, which numbered approximately 700; the establishment of contacts with many top executives from major companies; requests from several companies involved in open innovation to introduce UK companies; and the communication of UK technology and UK-Japan collaboration through speeches by the British Ambassador to Japan.
The 6th UK-Japanese Nuclear Industries Forum
On 31 October 2022, the 6th UK-Japan Nuclear Industries Forum was held in person at the residence of the British Ambassador to Japan, with four lecture sessions and a company exhibition. The Covid 19 Disaster caused the event to be held online last year. The lecture sessions covered (i) the status of decommissioning in Japan (i.e. the status of decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the status of decommissioning by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the Japan Atomic Power Company), (ii) the status of decommissioning in the UK, (iii) cooperation between the UK and Japan in decommissioning, and (iv) UK-Japan nuclear policy and UK-Japan cooperation in advanced HTGRs. After the forum, a reception was held, where the UK and Japanese nuclear professionals met and exchanged information.
Attendees at the Forum included private sector companies and government officials from both the UK and Japan. It was structured around UK-Japan decommissioning measures, UK-Japan cooperation, UK-Japan nuclear policy and new nuclear reactors, and despite being a full day long event, 160 people attended, including 15 UK companies, 34 Japanese companies and government officials from both countries.
A mini-exhibition after lunch brought back the energy of the face-to-face event, with Japanese and British companies actively exchanging information and asking questions. Although it is too early to say whether the event was successful in terms of individual business meetings, British companies said that it was useful for them to develop effective new contacts. It was an opportunity for very useful and timely discussions, and some said there are many actions to follow up.
24th UK-Japan Business Partnership Seminar
The hybrid seminar was held on 1 November in the conference room of the JFTC with the full cooperation of the JFTC, which is also a member of the BMC. Around 80 members and interested parties participated in the event both at the venue and online. The theme of this year's conference continued to focus on climate change measures, as in 2021. Since COP26 in 2021, the environment surrounding energy has changed drastically due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and other factors, therefore the theme was set to 'Initiatives and Challenges for Carbon Neutrality in Japan and the UK - In view of the recent energy situation', including responses to such changes in the environment.
The British Embassy in Tokyo gave a presentation on the UK's carbon neutrality policy and the potential of offshore wind, hydrogen and nuclear energy for de-carbonization. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, gave a presentation on Japan's energy policy.
This was followed by a lecture introducing member companies' day-to-day efforts to combat global warming, sustainability and the circular economy.
KOWA CREATIVE ART CO., LTD., BARAKURA English Garden gave a lecture entitled 'English Gardens Save the Planet - Britain in Bloom' and ARUP gave a lecture entitled 'Towards Sustainable Development in Built Environment - Arup’s actions around De-carbonization & Circular Economy'.
After the seminar, a reception was held at the venue for the first time in three years, where members and the British Embassy in Japan enjoyed a lively exchange. For members who were unable to attend the seminar, a video of the day's online proceedings was uploaded to the BMC's members-only website at a later date.
UK pavilion at FOODEX JAPAN 2023
This year's FOODEX recovered to pre-Covid 19 levels, with 2,562 exhibitors from 60 countries and 73,789 visitors, thanks to the lifting of the three-year-long Covid 19 restriction and the relocation of the exhibition venue from Makuhari Messe to Tokyo Big Sight for better access. From this year onwards, FOODEX organisers have been much stricter in checking the attributes of visitors, and there were very few non-industry visitors as seen at past FOODEX events. The visitors' content was of higher quality than in previous years, according to information from the organisers, as they appeared to be mainly purchasing managers who were serious about developing new commercial products and conducting business negotiations.
The British Embassy stand at this year's event featured English sparkling wine and cheese, two of the focus areas, on its stand. A total of 10 British companies exhibited, including four cheese companies and six English sparkling wine companies. Two of these companies have not yet entered the Japanese market and eight are existing exporters with Japanese agents. Four of the ten companies also came from the UK, where the British themselves introduced their products on their stands and enlivened the British Embassy stand.
The size of the British Embassy stand was 90m², making it one of the largest ever. The entire UK pavilion, including the Northern Ireland and Wales stands, was over 300m² in size, and was always full of visitors and exhibiting UK companies engaged in lively business discussions. There were more than 50 UK exhibitors in the UK pavilion as a whole, and more than 30 visiting UK companies.
The pairing/tasting events of English beef, English cheese and beetroot, Scottish salmon and English sparkling wine were held in the British Embassy stand, three times a day, 12 times over four days. Each session was attended by around 20 people, with approximately 250 participants over 12 sessions. Having a large UK pavilion at FOODEX had the effect of demonstrating to the industry that the UK Department for Business and Trade and the British Embassy in Japan are actively promoting UK food and drink exports to Japan. It was also a great and valuable opportunity to show that the UK also positions the food and drink industry as a key sector.
The two companies that have not yet entered the Japanese market are currently in talks with several Japanese companies that are potential Japanese importers and agents, and it is expected that Japanese partners will be decided within the next three months. All eight existing exporters reported that they had met potential new Japanese business partners (retailers, restaurants/hotels, etc.) during the four-day period and were currently in advanced talks with them.
E2J Japan Business Express Service (BES) expansion project（supported by ITIC）
The British Embassy in Tokyo conducts its work on increasing exports to Japan and investment form UK through Export to Japan (E2J), a non-profit organisation which is also managed and administered by the British Embassy in Tokyo. E2J, through Business Link Japan Limited, with whom it has an outsourcing agreement, has launched a tailor-made support service (Japan Business Express Service (BES)) for UK companies considering entering the Japanese market or exporting to Japan from December 2019 to support efficient entry into Japan, from market research to finding a Japanese partner and setting up a business in Japan. The Japan BES provides tailor-made support to meet the challenges of individual companies at every stage of their entry into the Japanese market. In FY2021, the Japan BES project was handling 13 projects, and the BMC has supported the reinforcement of resources to be able to handle 20-25 projects in FY2022.
The number of projects to be dealt with in FY2022 was 38, well above the target of 20-25 projects. The sectors of UK companies serviced that are wishing to enter Japan included construction, industrial machinery, e-scooters, Sea fishing(bycatching mitigation), health & wellbeing, fashion/accessories, giftware, polishing agent/cleaners/waxes for automotive/marine, football clubs, towels, games, control equipment, fashion, air purifiers/filters, skincare/cosmetics, football academies, fashion furniture, AR/MR, diffusers/candles/bath products. The services provided included researching, introducing and brokering partners in Japan, researching, introducing and brokering distributors, market research and analysing business opportunities. One of the companies that received these services signed a contract with a Japanese distributor and started marketing, one signed a confidentiality agreement and an agency agreement, and one company visited Japan in March to hold meetings with a potential distributor, with concrete results leading to entry into Japan.
V. Annual membership fee
1. Ordinary membership: 150,000 yen
2. Trade Promotion Committee membership: 500,000 yen extra
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