But wait a minute - the Japanese love our products and services and want to mimic the "British leisure experience". So what would they get if a typical high street was transplanted to Japan? A few Yves St Laurent and Chanel fashion outlets, an Ikea furniture emporium, a couple of cinemas specialising in French concept films, some Spanish delis, a whole load of Parisian-style brasseries and about 372 curry houses. Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it?
There was a glorious moment in The Young Ones, the cult comedy show of the early 1980s which launched the careers of Rik Mayall and Ben Elton among others, when a Russian landlord played by the stand-up comedian Alexi Sayle remarked: "I love your British punk rock - your Lulu, your Dave Clark Five." Behind the times he may have been, but the message about the potency of British culture is catching on: the Takenaka Corporation, one of Japan's biggest property developers, has just announced plans to create a series of British retail villages throughout the land of the rising sun. From the company's press release, it transpires, they love our Vivienne Westwood, our Paul Smith, our pubs, wine bars, delicatessens, furniture stores and hairdressers (well, the Japanese always did have a reputation for committing hair care).