The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Walking with Kings

But never losing the common touch

Calm, steadfast, friendly, a mentor.

These words were repeatedly mentioned to describe outgoing American Chamber of Commerce in Japan Executive Director Samuel Kidder, at an event given in his honor at the ANA InterContinental Tokyo on December 10.

Some 90 guests were in attendance to bid farewell to Kidder, who has served as leader of the chamber for the past eight-and-a-half years. A large contingency attended from the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo and the related Commercial Service–Japan, where Kidder served for nearly 16 years.

Representatives from Keidanren, the America–Japan Society, and other chambers of commerce also came on the night to pay their respects.

From the numerous speeches given in-person and on video, it is clear that Kidder touched many lives and had an enduring impact on the development of US–Japan trade ties. Here are some memorable words from the evening.

“Sam was always the smartest guy and the friendliest face in the room. He had the common practical background and the business sense to speak well on any subject. Nearly every foreign service officer here has known life with Sam in it. We are in denial he is leaving.”
Andrew Wylegala, minister-counselor for commercial affairs, US Embassy Tokyo

“Waiting for Sam to get angry is like betting against JGBs [Japanese government bonds]. It may happen, but probably not in our lifetime. Sam was always calm, cool, collected, and smiling—but he always got the job done.”
C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr., former US ambassador to APEC

“Sam’s leadership during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake was exemplary. In the face of so many ‘flyjin,’ Sam stayed and demonstrated the qualities that sum up his character: stalwart, unflappable, poised, positive, and calm. Thank you for your friendship most of all.”
Allan Smith, ACCJ president emeritus

“Mentor, sempai, counselor, and teacher are words I hear often about Sam. He was truly a rock for our members during the 2011 earthquake, and constantly showed steadfast resolve when a decision needed to be made.”
Michael Alfant, ACCJ president emeritus

“During my tenure, the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement] and [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s] third arrow were focus areas for our growth agenda. Sam had a unique ability to feel the pulse of the membership, as diverse a group as that is.”
Laurence Bates, former ACCJ president

“The ACCJ is losing its quarterback.”
John Peters, former minister-counselor for commercial affairs, US Embassy Tokyo

“Sometimes I just think, ‘wow, I made it out of Wisconsin.’ I am in awe of the progress the ACCJ has made, and I believe the chamber does good work that matters. We form personal bonds that enrich and enliven our existence.”
Samuel Kidder, ACCJ executive director 2006-2014

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

-Excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, one of Kidder’s favorite poems.