The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


March 2014
Here’s to the Next Half Century
Megan Waters

This issue of the ACCJ Journal is very special: it marks the 50th anniversary of the chamber’s flagship magazine.

Turn to page 20 to read some of the memories and anecdotes provided by ACCJ members and leaders, as well as some of their favorite stories from the Journal.

The first issue, published in March 1964, features a piece on the United States, which it describes as “Japan’s greatest trade partner.” Even then, bilateral trade was of paramount importance.

Rummaging through the collection of Journals at the ACCJ office, I took an interesting trip—albeit a slightly dusty one—back in time.

This proved not only informative, but served to underscore the central and very important role of the ACCJ in the US–Japan relationship.

Turning to the January 1967 issue of the magazine, I found that the chamber then had a grand total of 623 members. What a contrast with today’s membership of some 2,800!

Then there was the Olympics, a current focus of US–Japan interest. I discovered a February 1972 article promoting Sapporo, the host that year of the XI Olympic Winter Games. Here the Journal points out the benefits designed to enhance the experience of visitors to Japan’s fourth-largest city: “A new electric subway system started operation in December [1971]. The [trains] run silently on inflated tires and according to the Japanese, this is the only subway in the world that can make this claim to fame.” To this day, the system is unique among the nation’s subway lines.

As readers found in the August 1988 issue, even back then the ACCJ recognized the importance of women in business here. This acknowledgement has continued over the years, as the important place of women in the workforce increasingly has come to be recognized in Japan.

The 1988 Journal also includes articles on such topics as working women in the Kansai area, family policies, and foreign executive women. Perhaps one of the more interesting nuggets of information I found is the article that states, “[i]n 1984, close to half of all Japanese women—only three percent less than in the United States—were in the labor force.” Food for thought, indeed.

Despite having been only in its third year, the Journal was, even in 1966, already seeing great improvements in terms of production.

That year, in his December column, W. Bart Jackson—then the managing editor—tells readers that the magazine had “grown from its modest beginning of 24 pages to 64; from an original circulation of 950 to 2,000; from black and white only to color covers.”

I hope you enjoy this very special anniversary edition. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any comments about the magazine, be it positive or negative. Your input is always welcome, and will help ensure that the ACCJ Journal can continue improving over the next half century.

My ties to the ACCJ Journal—marking its golden anniversary this month—make me feel a mere spring chicken, going back just a decade or so as writer, editor-in-chief, and now publisher.

Our cover story at this great milestone was a challenge, however, as a number of members who have influenced the magazine since 1964 are now out of touch. Some have left Japan or retired; others, sadly, have passed away.

We were able to find the ACCJ’s longest-serving member and we have drawn not a few comments about what members would like to see between the covers, which we will do our best to implement.

American influence

At the February gathering of the European Business Council in Japan’s (EBC) Executive Operating Board, I enjoyed welcoming the new chairman of the EBC—the EU’s chamber of commerce in Japan—Danny Risberg, an American and prominent ACCJ member, no less.

Danny, a Californian with more than 20 years’ experience in Japan, serves as CEO of Philips Electronics Japan, Ltd.

He has quit his advocacy and other active ACCJ roles to avoid any potential conflict of interest. He will, however, remain an ACCJ member, and hopes to cooperate in joint ACCJ–EBC projects. I wish him all the best.