The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

In my last column, I wrote about the enduring importance of our mission amid new growth drivers in the Japanese economy and an evolving US–Japan partnership. In February, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Board of Governors approved a strategy to ensure that the chamber can continue to deliver on its mission in this changing environment. The strategy has three components, and I will outline each below.

Over the past several years, ACCJ membership has grown to a record high and become increasingly diverse, with more Corporate Sustaining Members, Japanese nationals, women, and young professionals. Now we need to evaluate our membership offerings and position the chamber for sustainable growth. To this end, the chamber will undertake a project over the next few months that will execute this member-centric evaluation of the ACCJ’s value proposition.

As part of this focus, we are also considering how to better engage the CEOs of member companies to enhance the chamber’s value proposition and add weight to our advocacy and brand.

Advocacy is a key differentiating factor for the ACCJ and its members, driven by the chamber’s unparalleled network and information resources. Thanks largely to the work of our industry committees, the ACCJ has developed a reputation as the leading voice for US companies in Japan.

Yet, in a business environment where many challenges and opportunities cut across industries, we often lack chamber-wide positions on issues such as workforce productivity, healthy aging, and labor mobility. In addition, ACCJ committees drive timely and meaningful advocacy projects, such as white papers, which deserve to be more effectively elevated and promoted at the chamber level.

To remedy this, the ACCJ will prioritize the following five cross-cutting advocacy themes aimed at “unlocking Japan’s growth potential” while aligning with both the chamber’s mission and the policy agendas of the US and Japanese governments:

  1. US–Japan Economic Partnership
  2. Digital Economy
  3. Health and Retirement
  4. Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  5. Workforce Productivity

To be clear, committees remain the driving force behind ACCJ advocacy, and the chamber will continue to work on issues outside of these five areas. By prioritizing these issues, we aim to focus the chamber’s voice, foster more collaboration between committees, and promote US businesses as a source of global best practices.

The Board of Governors and I will communicate more infor­mation on the themes—and how they intersect with committees—in the near future.

To ensure that the chamber can react more quickly in a changing environment and deliver more value to members, we need to streamline decision-making and remove bureaucracy. Going forward, we will promote more direct engagement between the Board of Governors and committees on key elements of the chamber’s work.

We will also establish a new Committee Excellence Advisory Council to ensure our committees continuously improve around the ACCJ’s three pillars—networking, information sharing, and advocacy—and maximize their impact on the chamber’s advocacy priorities.

This is an exciting time for the ACCJ as we chart a new path to deliver on our mission and enhance our reputation as the leading voice for US companies in Japan. Stay tuned for more information as we move forward. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and questions.

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.
This is an exciting time for the ACCJ as we chart a new path to deliver on our mission and enhance our reputation as the leading voice for US companies in Japan.