The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The late Skip Prosser, Wake Forest University’s basketball coach from 2001 to 2007, had some great words to live by. My favorite: “The one thing you never delay is gratitude.”

I am incredibly grateful to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) for the tremendous opportunity to serve as president. I have been humbled by this experience and, while it may sound cliché, it has been an absolute thrill and the honor of a lifetime.

My sincerest thanks to the membership for their support during my tenure, and the same goes for the dedicated, unsung heroes of the ACCJ: the staff. Thank you to the committee chairs and board of governors for their engagement. In particular, I want to recognize the executive committee. This insightful and action-oriented “team of rivals” has been wonderful to work with, and I am fortunate to have had this remarkable opportunity.

A very special thanks goes to Chairman Chris LaFleur (page 10), who has been pressed into extra service this year and has delivered every time.

Last, but certainly not least, I owe much credit to Jim Fitterling, Dow’s chief executive officer and my friend of many years, as well as to my amazing executive assistant, Junko Nakajima. I would not have been able to embark on this journey without their support.

Amid all the ACCJ’s successes this year, two immutable takeaways stand out:

  1. The immense value I gleaned from my personal interactions with numerous ACCJ leaders and members is a gift I will always carry with me.
  2. There is absolutely no other organization of this nature where extremely smart, committed, and talented people volunteer copious amounts of their invaluable time while never asking for anything in return.

This year marks my 35th year with Dow Chemical Company—the past eight years as president of Dow Japan. I have tried to put my finger on why the relationship between the United States and Japan is so special. As a transplanted Midwesterner and Michigan native, I believe the bond between these two countries is rooted in shared values and principles that espouse diligence, integrity, and improvement, as well as love of family, community, and country. These roots enable the US–Japan alliance to endure, for our relationship has never been stronger or more important.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime to represent the ACCJ at a meeting with US President Donald Trump, US Ambassador William Hagerty, and 30 of the best business leaders in the world on May 25. I believe the ACCJ and our members will continue to play an integral role in strengthening US–Japan relations. Special recognition goes to Joe Young, chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Tokyo, who has helped plant the ACCJ–US Embassy partnership on the most solid and productive ground in many years.

Thank you to everyone.

In closing, I leave you with a quote that encapsulates my tenure as ACCJ President.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou 

 

Peter M. Jennings is ACCJ President.
I have been humbled by this experience . . . it has been an absolute thrill and the honor of a lifetime.