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 2021 (April 2021-March 2022) :
The 5th UK-Japanese Nuclear Industries Forum (Webinar)
The lecture was divided into three parts: Nuclear Energy Policy/Bilateral Cooperation between the UK and Japan by a UK-Japan policymaker, Status of Japan's Decommissioning Efforts including Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and Status of UK's Decommissioning Efforts. The conference was well attended by about 200 people, including 40 British and 29 Japanese companies, as well as government officials from both countries. As examples of UK- Japan cooperation, the "LongOps" robotic arm project and "boom" robot for the fuel debris recovery were explained, both of which are being used for decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Nuclear energy is also positioned as an important part of the carbon neutrality policy of Japan and the UK, and cooperation in safer technological innovations is also being explored. The UK government has positioned this event as part of the UK-Japan EPA campaign and hopes that UK SMEs will enter the Japanese market and bring innovative solutions to the decommissioning business. Not all questions could be answered during the Q&A session, and follow-up sessions were held after the event. In addition, there were inquiries for individual contact with the speakers, which were handled at the British Embassy.
UK Education Industry Seminar (Showcase)
A two-day seminar was held with the aim of raising awareness of the UK education industry and encouraging UK companies to enter the Japanese market and expand their business (creating new business), connecting online with the UK. A briefing by specialists from the Department for International Trade, and presentations (online seminar) by 14 selected companies looking to create or expand their business in the Japanese market, focused on the UK education industry, which is highly reputed worldwide, particularly in the EdTech sector, where both demand and supply have increased due to the global coronavirus outbreak, and in English language learning and education-related, vocational and career education for a wide range of generations.
Following introductions by sector managers from the UK Department for International Trade in the three sectors of technical vocational training and career progression learning, UK EdTech, and English language teaching and assessment methods, 14 companies gave presentations on their services and products. Business matching opportunities were also prepared by accepting requests for individual interviews during the event announcement. An additional project was to expand the company brochures for seminars and to produce a Directory of the UK Education Industry by the end of August, which can be downloaded from the British Market Council's website. This time, 36 UK companies applied for the invitation from the UK Department for International Trade's Education Industry Team (14 companies maximum). Of these, 14 companies were carefully selected to give presentations. Of the remaining companies, 15 were also included in the UK Education Industry Directory. The two-day presentation was well attended by a total of approximately 180 participants from national and private universities, kindergartens to private high schools in Japan, teachers, management personnel, the education industry and trading companies. A post-seminar questionnaire confirmed the high level of satisfaction of participating UK companies and Japanese viewers, and was highly appraised by the UK Department for International Trade's Education Industry Team. Individual business matching sessions were also held, and moves towards new collaborations have begun.
23rd UK-Japan Business Partnership Seminar
The theme of the Business Partnership Seminar was “Initiatives and Challenges for Carbon Neutrality in the UK and Japan in preparation of COP26”, ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held in Glasgow, UK, from 31 October to 12 November 2021. As the event was held during the Covid19, the number of participants was limited at the venue with measures taken to prevent the spread of infection, and the event was also conducted in a hybrid format with online participation available.
For more information, see the British Market Council website below.
Project to develop the Export to Japan E-Commerce Site in Rakuten Market (supported by ITIC)
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (UK-Japan EPA) entered into force in January 2021, and in response to the momentum of increased interest in Japan by UK companies, opportunities were provided for UK companies to access Japanese consumers directly as part of measures to promote the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries. The aim is to increase trade with Japan, raise the profile of these companies in Japan and ultimately contribute to the promotion of these companies' entry into the Japanese market.
A special page dedicated to Export to Japan (E2J), a business support website for UK companies in Japan, will be set up in Rakuten Market, the largest e-commerce platform in Japan, to develop a series of three to four themed web-based shop openings by UK companies, mainly targeting consumers, with maximum use of Rakuten's infrastructure throughout the year.
Supported by a grant from The Foundation for International Trade and Industrial Co-operation (ITIC), which assisted in the creation of the mall page, a sales campaign was launched on 13 May 2022 under the brand name Oxford Circus UK Store. Ten companies that had never before entered the Japanese market opened shops. The sales campaign is expected to raise the profile of these UK companies in Japan and give them a foothold in the country. The special pages will enable more UK companies that do not have a presence in Japan to reach Japanese consumers directly, which is expected to increase trade with Japan, spread awareness of UK companies and accelerate their business expansion into Japan. In turn, this would contribute to strengthening economic relations and increasing trade between the UK and Japan.
UK pavilion at Foodex Japan 2022
The event was held at Makuhari Messe from 8 to 11 March 2022. The Department for International Trade exhibited as the UK Pavilion and was a joint exhibitor with two UK meat export promotion associations, AHDB (English Meat Board) and HCC (Welsh Meat Council). The UK Government has identified cheese, seafood, gin, meat and English sparkling wine as priority products for export promotion to Japan, and a range of these products from four UK regions (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) were on display for the food industry. In addition to the association, there were eight UK companies exhibiting in the meat, seafood, cheese, English sparkling wine and gin sectors.
The UK Market Council assisted in the preparation of the 'UK Food and Drink' brochure. The total number of visitors to the FOODEX JAPAN 2022 exhibition was approximately 33,000. This time, a pairing tasting of British food and English sparkling wine was held on the stand. The tasting sessions were held three times daily during the four-day exhibition, 12 times in total, and were very well received, with approximately 200 participants. The 58 business negotiations concluded during the exhibition contributed to the promotion of imports.
V. Annual membership fee
1. Ordinary membership: 150,000 yen
2. Trade Promotion Committee membership: 500,000 yen extra
*If you want to know more about BMC, please click [Contact us]
and send e-mail