BCCJ Back To Business (B2B) Initiative for Tohoku

Written by BCCJ
July 12, 2018


Written by BCCJ
July 12, 2018

Following the emergency relief phase of the 11 March 2011 disasters, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan established the Back to Business (B2B) Initiative for Tohoku.

The mission of the B2B fund was to support projects that:

  • Positively impacted business, the community and/or society
  • Had the potential to demonstrate measurable results
  • Could aspire to future development, growth, and sustainability for local stakeholders
  • Were driven by local stakeholders in Tohoku



In March 2011, the BCCJ worked quickly to assemble a disaster-response taskforce which met for the first time at the British Embassy Tokyo and disseminate factual information to British people and the wider community in Japan. The shared information helped restore a degree of calm to residents and their families overseas.

The images of Tohoku gradually disappeared from the front pages of the world’s newspapers, and were replaced by current newsworthy events. For the BCCJ, however, this was a time of increased focus on how to help the devastated communities of Tohoku recover.

The BCCJ Back to Business (B2B) taskforce, led by Executive Director Lori Henderson MBE, BCCJ President Emeritus Philip T Gibb OBE and the BCCJ’s Social Responsibility Task Force head, Yayoi Sogo, looked for ways to bring relief to the local communities under the B2B Initiative.

Rather than raising money for charities, the BCCJ B2B taskforce decided that it wanted to help the people of Tohoku to establish sustainable businesses that would meet the immediate needs of the community.

The BCCJ raised over ¥8.3mn for B2B through its various initiatives, including chamber events, joint events with the British Embassy Tokyo, as well as through the generous donations of individual and corporate members.

A feature of the B2B Initiative was the close collaboration between the BCCJ and on-the-ground non-profit organisations and other charitable foundations. Through this network, it was possible to quickly identify the local needs of a community and assess the long-term sustainability of various proposals and requests for assistance.


What was the result of this BCCJ B2B Initiative after two years?

Below are some of the projects that were realised:

• Onagawa Peace Boat Central Kitchen—funded plumbing of the Peace Boat kitchen, which provided 2,000 meals per day to survivors and volunteers.
• Ichigo Café—funded equipment for eight cafés that provided a meeting place for farmers and business owners in a pleasant environment.
• Funakoshi fishermen—funded and installed freezers, providing a facility for the supply of fresh fish.
• Utatsu tented market—funded the setting up of shops close to remote temporary housing facilities.

• Izushima Fishing Union—funded three outdoor generators to supply lights for night fishing.
• Hakuba Scottish Festival—sponsored 20 students from Tohoku to attend the festival.
• Minamisanriku Green Farmers’ Association—funded construction of greenhouses for the production of fresh, inexpensive vegetables.
• Ukishima Sculpture Studio—funding of the internationally-acclaimed Postcards to Japan and Postcards from Japan exhibitions.
• Watalis Organization—funded the procuring of sewing machines and raw materials, as well as the provision of lessons to enable women in the community to learn new skills.

• Izushima Fukubukuro—funded provision of sewing machines for the production of bags and coasters for sale in Tokyo shops and restaurants.
• Ishinomaki Bakery—funded the purchase of a bread slicer for PAO bakery.
• Ishinomaki Citizens’ Market—funded cooling rooms for fishermen to sell prepared meals and deli items to hundreds of customers each day.

• Peace Boat Volunteer Center—provided funding for the refurbishment of four containers to be used as stock rooms.
• Onagawa Chamber of Commerce—provision of solar panels to provide electricity for shopping and student studies.
• Aizumisato-machi—worked with KVH Co., Ltd. to provide a community centre for children in temporary housing complexes.

Further reading


September 2011 UPDATE

February 2012 Special Event Road to Recovery PURPOSE

March 2012 Road To Recovery VIDEO

April 2012 Back to Business UPDATE

November 2013 Back to Business for Tohoku Japan Matsuri London

May 2014 BCCJ members join cycle challenge for Tohoku

March 2015 Duke of Cambridge Visits BCCJ Back to Business Sites in Tohoku