Please accept my warmest wishes for the new year, together with my thanks to all our members for their continued support of the British Market Council (BMC).
We saw a number of milestones last year: the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force on 1 January, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were held from July to September, Japan’s general election was held in October, and COP26 was held in Glasgow from October to November. In terms of our activities, the spread of COVID-19 unfortunately required us to cancel in person events such as the New Year's Party and the Spring Party, and we held the Board of Directors’ Meeting and Ordinary General Meeting online. I took up my new role as Chairman of the BMC at the Board of Directors’ Meeting and Ordinary General Meeting in June, but the first time I met some of our members in person was at the Business Partnership Seminar on 19 October.
In November, the situation in Japan improved and the number of new infections remained at a low level, but the outbreak of the Omicron strain led to a rapid increase in the number of infections in Europe, the USA, South Korea and other countries. Japan has been working hard to prevent the re-emergence of COVID-19, and we have sadly had to cancel our Christmas party and our first event of 2022, the New Year's party, which we had been looking forward to. We are considering an alternative online New Year’s event on 4 February.
Despite these challenging circumstances, we have been able to develop a number of initiatives in collaboration with the British Embassy and with the support of our stakeholders, including the 5th UK-Japan Nuclear Industry Forum and the 2021 UK Education Showcase Online Seminar in June, and the Business Partnership Seminar in October. The UK product online sales campaign project in the Rakuten Global Market is underway and we are planning to open a British food and beverage store at FOODEX Japan 2022 this March.
The BMC will continue to contribute to the development of trade between the UK and Japan and the expansion of the UK-Japan partnership, albeit in a restricted environment, and we will continue to be as active as possible in running the BMC and providing UK-related information.
We are grateful for the continued understanding, support, and encouragement of all BMC members and look forward to working with you this year.
Chairman, British Market Council