UK creativity proves popular in Japan

Ed Sheeran 650px

(Above: Ed Sheeran is a hit in Japan: Image source: UK Music)


The UK’s creative industries are continuing to grow in the Japanese market, Government statistics reveal.

In 2016 Japan accounted for £325 million of the UK creative industry service exports, up from £226 million in 2015. These are any services that are exported including advertising and marketing.

Creative industry export goods, which includes things like handbags, printed books, paintings and sculptures, to Japan in 2016 were also worth £155 million, which was up from £146 million the year before.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: "The UK’s creative and cultural output is one of our biggest exports and the Japanese market continues to love what we have to offer.

"From seeing our latest blockbusters on screen, to listening to rip roaring live music acts and playing our latest video games - it’s clear that creative industries love affair between Japan and the UK continues."

In 2017 the box office take for UK films shown in Japan was $424.3 million. Films produced in the UK, 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Fantastic Beasts' and 'Where to Find Them'  topped the charts with 9.5 million and 5.6 million admissions respectively.

In addition, UK music labels earning an estimated £18.5 million from Japan in 2017. It was 5th largest market in terms of UK revenues behind the USA, Germany, France and Australia. The biggest selling album by a British act was '÷' by Ed Sheeran.

The UK’s video games industry also has strong links with Japan with UK benefitting from major investment by leading companies including SEGA and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The UK game 'Overcooked 2' co-developed by Team17 and Ghost Town Games in Wakefield is also proving popular in Japan as it was voted the most recommended game by Nintendo Switch players last August.

A major season of culture will take place in Japan between autumn 2019 and summer 2020 aiming to promote the UK as an attractive destination in which to invest, to study and to travel as well as building greater levels of trust between Japan and the UK through the arts and the creative industries.

The British Council, working together with The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Trade, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and other partners, will lead the activities in Japan. At the same time, the Japanese government will lead on Japanese activities in the UK. 

The activity will fall between the Japan hosted Rugby World Cup and summer 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and plans are well under way.  The Season’s themes have been decided (inclusion and well-being, technology and innovation, and art in public spaces). 

If you have a project in mind with a strong Japanese partner, funding in place and ideally connects with the three themes or promotes excellence of UK creativity then please contact The British Council by emailing