Japanese Businesses and the UK’s Future Economy

08 November 2019

Courtesy of Embassy of Japan in the UK


OBM was honoured to be invited to the ‘Japanese Businesses and the UK's Future Economy’ event which was co-hosted by the Embassy of Japan in the UK and the British-Japanese Parliamentary Group, on 29th October.


The event celebrated the relations between the two countries and discussed the ways in which future collaboration could be achieved.


 Important Partnership


The UK DIT (Department for International Trade) says that Japan is the world’s third largest economy and in the last year alone trade between the UK and Japan was worth £29.5 billion, up by over 8% on 2017.

It is estimated that there are nearly 1,000 Japanese firms based in the UK, employing over 150,000 people.  


Speaking at the event, the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy gave a speech on how Japan and the UK are working together to solve the Grand Challenges that are facing all of us today.  She described how collaborations and partnerships between UK and Japanese businesses exist today in the car industry and in new technologies which address the ageing population, climate change and other key issues.


The Secretary of State also encouraged Japanese businesses to contribute to the UK Government's recent 'Call for Input’, where the government was consulting with all business to help tailor the approach to a future UK-Japan trading relationship post-Brexit.   



The UK - Japan Joint Statement 2019  


The areas of collaboration discussed in this event reflect what was defined in the joint UK-Japan collaborative statement in January 2019.  The joint statement refers to collaboration in energy innovation (hydrogen technologies and carbon capture), innovation in the use of 5G technologies, data driven technologies and the use of Robotics, AI and IoT for assisted living and the ageing society.


The joint statement goes further to encourage the development of start-ups with advanced technologies in both countries by utilising functions of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Department for International Trade (DIT), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).


Similarities between Industrial Strategies


                                                                  Courtesy of the HM Government                                                                                                                                   Courtesy of Public Relations Office, Government of Japan


Reflecting upon the event, we can see how closely current discussions follow the Industrial Strategies of both countries, and indeed there is a considerable degree of commonality between the UK’s "Grand Challenges" and Japan’s "Society 5.0". Although we are not exactly comparing like-for-like here, you can see the similarities from the following comparison:


Japan's "Society 5.0"

  • Drones for delivering goods, surveying property, and supporting disaster relief around our world
  • Smart Home appliances embedding artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Smart Work: autonomous tractors, cleaning robots and ICT cultivation
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • The use of robots and other forms of cutting-edge technology to provide innovative solutions for the provision of medical and nursing care in the context of the ageing society. 


UK's "Grand Challenges"

  • To put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution. 
  • Maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth. 
  • Become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility.
  • Harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society 


Both countries have common goals of using technology to augment medical care and the ageing society, being at the forefront of AI and the use of data driven technologies, and the development of next generation mobility solutions.


Whilst it is encouraging to see the current level of cooperation between Japan and the UK both at the level of joint R&D and the current level of business investment in the UK, we hope that the results of the recent 'Call for Input’, where the UK Government was consulting with all business over the approach to a future UK-Japan trading relationship, will result in tangible business partnerships being formed.



1. Parliament Event – Japanese Businesses and the UK’s Future Economy press release:


2. The joint UK-Japan collaborative statement in Jan 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/770467/UK-Japan_Joint_Statement.pdf

3. UK Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges paper:


4. Japan’s society 5.0 website: