Why Branch into the UK Market?
Britain is keen to attract Japanese investment into the market, with organisations such as the UKTI and JETRO supporting interested parties to get set up. At present, there are over 1,300 Japanese companies invested in the British market, which is more than anywhere else in Europe. This is a testament to the UK's status as a gateway into the European market for investors; London is also home to more of the European headquarters of leading global companies than any other European city. As an added bonus to this, the UK also happens to have one of the lowest corporation tax rates of any G20 country.
Comparing the UK and Japan
Two small yet powerful island nations that sit on the edge of a mighty continent – it is not difficult to see how the UK and Japan have formed a natural relationship over time. Today, the UK has the 5th biggest economy in the world with a GDP of approximately $2.85 billion, while Japan is ranked 3rd at $4.21 billion. The UK's population consists of about 64.6 million people, with 84% of the population living in England. The Japanese population is about twice this figure at 127 million, with roughly 10% of the total population living in the Tokyo area. Furthermore, their capital cities – London and Tokyo, respectively – both contribute significantly to global integration as world leaders of industry, technology and culture.
The UK boasts the most developed transport system in Europe in terms of connectivity, frequency and reliability.
Sea – The UK is home to the second largest port industry in Europe and includes all-purpose, ferry- and container ports.
Air - The British aviation industry covers more destinations with more flexibility than any other European country. In fact, with over 70 airports – including Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, and 4 others around London – the UK aviation industry rivals that of any country in the world.
Rail - Despite being the 8th largest country in the EU in terms of geographical size, the UK has the fourth longest rail network in Europe and is always undergoing growth and improvement. Not only does this network cover domestic travel, but with the Eurostar you can also directly access up to 100 towns and cities across Europe.
The UK has advanced communication systems on both a commercial and consumer scale, with the coverage, capacity and reliability of fixed broadband, Wi-Fi and mobile networks playing an important part in supporting the British economy.
At the most fundamental level, telephone and internet services are crucial for businesses to communicate with their clients, suppliers and workforce. In the UK, the scale of businesses that rely on these networks to sell their goods and services is widespread. This is particularly the case for the UK's large number of e-commerce businesses, which are entirely dependent on their online presence to function; taking advantage of the fact there are more mobile phones than people in the UK, these businesses have tapped into the public's willingness to use mobile and internet services for anything from grocery shopping to online banking.
London's Unique Identity
Whether it's Big Ben, the double-decker bus or the world's first metro, 'London' is a brand in its own right; a mix of the modern and the traditional, it's an identity that is synonymous with the whole of the UK yet so completely distinctive.
London is the world's leading financial centre for international business alongside New York. The economy of London's metropolitan area generates almost a third of the national GDP and over five times that of the UK's second-largest economic city, Birmingham. It is also home to about 12% of the UK population as well as the world's second largest immigrant population after New York. As a result, it has by far the most ethnically-diverse population of any city or region in the UK, with over 300 languages being spoken in the Greater London area. It is a city that embraces its mixed-cultural heritage, as shown by celebrations such as the Notting Hill Carnival.
Needless to say, there is nowhere else in the UK that shares the same cultural, financial or commercial identity as London; however, it is also the crucial face of the UK that the rest of the world looks to.
Prices in the UK
The cost of living varies significantly in different regions of the UK, but as a general rule the closer you are to London the more expensive the cost of living becomes. This is mainly due to London being the cultural, commercial and financial centre of the UK – people in or around London pay a premium for the cost of living, food and transport, but in exchange they benefit from the greatest job opportunities in Europe. Additionally, people who work in London tend to receive a slightly higher salary to balance the high living costs. The UK's other major economic cities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, are not nearly as expensive when it comes to property and commodity prices but still contribute significantly to the UK's economy.
The Different Regions of the UK
London may be the heart of the UK, but there are also many other cities that play an important part in contributing to the UK economy:
Historically reliant only on the iron and steel industry, Birmingham now boasts the largest manufacturing (particularly metal, automotive and machinery) and engineering industries in the UK, contributing billions of pounds to the UK's economy. With the second highest urban population outside London, the city's major employers are the service sector, mainly owing to the city's three universities and major medical centre, and the financial and business services, due to being the home of many UK and overseas banks and legal firms. Birmingham has the second largest economy in the UK after London and is considered the third most globally influential city in the UK after London and fellow 'beta' world city Manchester.
Manchester was the world's first industrialised city due to its booming textile industry in the industrial revolution. It later fell into financial decline after the Second World War due to deindustrialisation, but started attracting heavy investment again in the 1990's. Now the city has the third largest economy in the UK after London and Birmingham, with major industries including digital and creative, financial, legal and business services, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, environmental technologies, tourism, sports brands, media and real estate. Manchester has a 'beta' global city status, meaning it is the second-most globally influential city in the UK after London. It is also home to the European headquarters of many of the world's top companies and has one of the best-developed air and rail transport infrastructures in the UK.
Leeds is the third largest city in the UK with a population of over 2 million in the metropolitan area. Its economic importance lies in the fact that it has the largest legal centre and third largest manufacturing centre in the UK after London. It is also the base of several major media and communications companies, which is a result of being the first place in the UK to have full broadband coverage. In terms of transport infrastructure, Leeds acts as the main transport hub of the north with many of the rail-, road- and public transport networks from the south passing through or terminating there. With the second-busiest railway station in the UK already, Leeds's north-to-south connectivity will only increase after the new High Speed 2 (HS2) line opens in 2033.
Liverpool is one of the biggest cities in the UK with a population of over 2 million in the metropolitan area. The city is most famous for its port, which acted as the gateway for exporting goods made in the north of the UK during the industrial revolution. At the same time, the importation of food products to the UK allowed the food business to grow, with many food and drinks businesses in the area still greatly contributing to the local economy. Liverpool's largest industry is the public services sector, covering public administration, education, health, and the financial and business services. It also has several car-manufacturing plants in the area, as well as a large tourist and leisure industry owing to its status as a city in the 'top 100 most visited cities in the world by international tourists'.
Other major cities to consider
Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh
British Character Traits
Although the make-up of the UK population has changed considerably over the last few decades with mass immigration, many of the national characteristics that make someone 'British' remain the same. Politeness and consideration are still the key traits in British society, with the old notion of "minding your P's & Q's" (minding your language and manners) being very much ingrained into the majority of people. A British person at a restaurant, for example, would typically say "thank you" when getting the menu, when ordering, when the food is served, when the plates are cleared and even when paying! Much like the Japanese, British people also tend to say things indirectly to avoid sounding too abrupt or arrogant to the listener. The British 'polite consideration' is even extended to other well-known national 'hobbies' like queuing and not complaining – unless it's about the weather!