Tributes to Ian de Stains

Written by Sterling Content
December 21, 2017


Written by Sterling Content
December 21, 2017

Former Executive Director of the BCCJ (1987-2011), Ian de Stains OBE, passed away in the early hours of Monday morning, Dec 18, 2017. 

At the heart of our community and UK-Japan relations for almost 40 years, Ian touched the lives of many BCCJ members, friends and colleagues. This week, messages of condolence and tribute have been arriving at the BCCJ office and a selection of these are below, led by former British Ambassador to Japan, Sir Graham Fry.

Like many others, I was very saddened by the news of Ian’s death. He was a brilliant Director of the Chamber, who made a huge contribution to the British presence in Japan for many years. But, much more than that, he was a kind and caring man as his numerous charitable activities and many friendships showed. I remember two things in particular from when I was Ambassador. One was the annual Christmas Carol celebration, which he and Robin Maynard organised at the Ambassador’s Residence every year and which gave Ian the opportunity to use his acting talents for the benefit of charity. The other was Ian’s pleasure when civil partnerships were introduced and he and Hajime were able to register theirs in a simple but official ceremony at the Embassy.
– Sir Graham Fry

I returned to Tokyo in 1995 after three years’ tenure of office at London as Chief Executive for Europe of my former company. When I reactivated relations with some of my British business friends at Tokyo over lunch at the Tokyo Club, he was also at the next table at the Club. My friends introduced me to Ian and he recommended me to become a member of BCCJ. Since then, he had been very nice and kind to me on various occasions. I was very surprised at the sudden news because I would have thought I could see him at any time at the Tokyo Club. I should like to express my sincere gratitude for his kind considerations to me and my deepest condolences on his passing away.
Requiescat in pace.
May he rest in peace.
– Takao Yotsukura

It is so sad to hear about Ian in such a way. I am recalling my first meeting with him 20 years ago. While I lived in UK to manage an acquired local SME at that time, I had a business trip to Japan and visited the British Industry Centre in Yokohama opened by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997. Ian welcomed me with detailed presentation on the newly established office facility for British companies. He asked me to find out start-ups in UK and dispatch them to Japan to utilize the facility. After I returned to Japan in 1999, I became a member of BCCJ. Since then, he had always been so kind to me whenever we met. I will keep my good memories with him in my mind.
– Susumu Kaminaga

I am so sad to hear that Ian has passed away and at such a young age. I know that in recent years his health had been deteriorating but I had hoped that he might have a few more years to enjoy his retirement. Personally, and on behalf of JAC Recruitment, please do pass on my deepest sympathies to his family and everyone at the BCCJ. I first met Ian when I was on the JET programme in 1997. I had contacted the BCCJ for advice about finding a job beyond JET and Ian was very kind and helpful then. He even advertised “my availability” in the BCCJ’s newsletter. Since then, as I have become more involved in the business community, I have seen just how much Ian has contributed to British/Japanese relations. He has really been a credit to both countries. I will miss him a great deal.
– Colin Silvester

It was my pleasure to serve on the BCCJ Executive Committee from 2008 to 2010, towards the end of Ian’s long and distinguished tenure as Executive Director.  Even at the end of his tenure, and during challenging economic times, he launched the British Business Awards and the Acumen magazine, both of which are thriving today. Ian was extremely experienced and skilled at working with the Japanese business and cultural worlds. As part of the British community in Japan, we owe him a huge debt for his tremendous public service over a lifetime in Japan.
– Jonathan Stuart-Smith

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ian. The first occasion on which I met him was at a BCCJ event in 1987 – a very different era. Ian was responsible for steering the chamber through more than two decades of change in the role of the Chamber and in the makeup of the expat community. His stewardship has enabled the Chamber to build on what he had achieved and to be where it is today.
– Tony Grundy

I was very surprised at your notice. Thanking Mr.Ian de Stains for his kindness extended to me, I deeply express my regret over his death.
– Toshiyasu Maekawa

Sixteen plus years ago when I came back to Japan to set up the Japan business for one of my previous companies Ian was a great source of help and advice and we remained friends over the years, although since his retirement and slowing down of his activities we had not met as often. I did assiduously read his book reviews in Acumen after he stepped back. Also have many happy memories of the Christmas Crackers he produced at the Embassy! Ian will be sadly missed.
– Colin Mason

I was lucky enough to meet Ian a number of times. Such a warm, friendly chap but was as sharp as a pin and gave me some great insights into Japan. Dearly missed.
– Jonty Brunner

He was a true gentleman in every way and I always enjoyed my interactions with him. He will be missed.
– Kelly Wetherille

Ian was such a gentleman and will be greatly missed. It never really occurred to me til now but it was Ian who helped me get into licensing, as he suggested I wrote about myself in the Jobs Wanted section of the BCCJ Newsletter ..that was in 1989…..I think he helped so many, many young Brits like myself. I’m sorry I never had the chance to thank him in person but we kept in touch professionally….Ian, thank you!
– Roger Berman

What sad news. I always remember the nice music programme for Christmas at the British Embassy in Tokyo. RIP.
– Masako Johnson

Ian will be missed greatly. He was an inspiration.
– Paul Atkinson

I met Ian when I first visited Japan over 20 years ago. He was so helpful and knowledgeable and a brilliant chef. 10 years ago Andy and I came up with the BBA idea and Ian worked hard with us to make it a success. The first BBA had about 55 guests!! BCCJ had a good Foundation with Ian and he battled it out in the hard times for the next generation to make it a great success. RIP
– Saleem d’Aronville 

What incredibly sad news. Ian was one of the very first people I met when we moved to Tokyo and was instrumental in helping me set up my business back then. He was such a fixture of life in Tokyo, I always assumed that he would be around.
– Julia Maeda

I first served on the BCCJ Executive Committee with Ian nearly 30 years ago. For many decades he played a pivotal role in UK/Japan relations here in Tokyo, not just through the BCCJ, but in many other organisations too. He was respected and admired by all of us at the British Embassy, and his appointment as OBE was richly deserved. Ian will be remembered as a lovely, really decent man, highly intelligent with a wide-range of interests, and a real passion for Japan, the country that he had called home for almost all of his adult life.
– His Excellency Paul Madden CMG