The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Raising the bar

Brandi Goode

This time of year is busy on so many levels, with obligations at work and home distracting us from daydreams about holiday plans. The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has been abuzz during this, their peak time for events.

I’ve attended many of the speaking engagements in the October–November program, but am perhaps most excited about the launch of the Young Professionals Forum (YPF).

As far as chambers of commerce go, I’d venture to say that most workers under 35 probably don’t have much knowledge about, or interest in, their activities. When I began editing chamber magazines in Japan, before I knew the Japanese terms to explain the work, I consistently encountered perplexed looks and “umms” and “ahhs” when trying to describe my profession.

I believe—from my own experience—that young workers want to be more involved in professional society, but they often feel uninvited to what is still, in many ways, perceived as an old boys’ club. Increasing women’s inclusion in the labor force has been an issue in the spotlight this year, but it is high time we address the “old” aspect of that perception.

The YPF is a landmark program the chamber can be proud to sponsor, particularly in light of its advocacy message promoting more flexible labor contracts in Japan.

Increasing young people’s involvement in the chamber is a prime example of the ACCJ walking the walk, especially as Japan faces issues such as a rising number of furita (workers aged 15–34 who choose short-term over long-term work). The newly minted participants of the YPF demonstrated genuine excitement at finally being invited to the table.

Cities of the future
Our diversity column this month provides some interesting statistics on how Japan stacks up against its Asian neighbors. Readers may be surprised to learn that the Philippines leads the way in terms of gender parity in education and employment.

Japan also lags behind the two destinations it commonly competes with for attracting executive expatriate talent: Singapore and Hong Kong. Both cities fare far better in statistics reflecting women in management.

December marks what many leaders hope will see the conclusion of at least some aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Our cover story this month follows Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s trade mission to Asia, during which the TPP was deemed a watershed moment in the US–Japan alliance. Certainly her dynamic presence and avid support of free trade should further advance the cause.

For ACCJ Journal readers spending the holidays in Japan, I can recommend the film Big Hero 6, to be released in cinemas on December 20. If you’re missing America, the hybrid, glittering setting of San Fransokyo is a wonder to behold.



Brandi Goode