The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

I am deeply honored to have been elected president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) for 2016.

I send my heartfelt congratulations to those who have been elected to serve with me next year, and look forward to working with them and the incumbent members of the Board of Governors.

I have been serving the chamber in various roles since 2008. Since then, the ACCJ has surmounted numerous challenges, following the global financial crisis and the March 11 disasters.

We have recently achieved new heights, including a new high point in overall membership (30 percent of whom are women), a record number of Corporate Sustaining Members, and engagement in an unprecedented array of advocacy programs.

Looking Forward
I am fortunate to assume the presidency at a time when we have the scale and energy to take on fresh challenges and to further strengthen our member service, advocacy, and networking opportunities.

Let me share some areas on which I intend to focus:

Membership: As the chamber has grown, our membership has become more diverse. From large subsidiaries of major global firms to one-person start-ups, we need to find new ways to better identify and serve the interests of all segments of our membership.

In particular, small and medium-size businesses merit even greater attention.

Networking: With greater diversity also comes a greater need for communication. We should ensure that current leaders are effectively communicating with members and explore new ways to engage.

For example, I plan to hold periodic “Town Hall” meetings, open to all members, where we can discuss major issues facing our organization.

Women in Business: Our next objective this year should be meeting the challenge of appointing and electing women to 30 percent of ACCJ leadership positions by 2020.

Advocacy: We have exciting new opportunities to engage with the Japanese government and industry organization counterparts to advance our advocacy agenda. We need to ensure our committees and chamber staff have the resources to take full advantage of these opportunities.

TPP: Negotiations have been completed, but approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will require a major effort by leaders in Tokyo and Washington.

The chamber has an important role to play in encouraging the U.S. Congress to act—especially during our next D.C. Doorknock. We also need to closely follow Japan’s TPP implementation plans and to identify issues not addressed in the TPP that require ongoing US-Japan dialogue.

External Communications: The new Journal is off to a great start. Going forward, we need to also enhance the chamber’s social media presence.

We must also focus on ways to further improve accessibility to online member services and increase opportunities for feedback.

Our Strength Lies in Our Members
The chamber derives its strength from its members and depends on their leadership, activism, and participation.

I look forward to working with you to address these challenges in the year ahead, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Christopher J. LaFleur