The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Auspicious Start

Perhaps, like me, you’re marveling at how fast the first month of 2015 has gone. Resolutions—didn’t have time to make them; diet—too many leftover holiday sweets to start one; reflection—present obligations overshadowed any looking back.

However, I choose to follow the Chinese zodiac calendar this year, which starts on February 19 … also the day after Lent begins for many Christians.

In the Lenten spirit of giving up things, and in step with the theme of New Year rejuvenation, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Executive Director Laura Younger (see page 50) has elected to relinquish the monthly leaders column, instead offering the space to other ACCJ voices. Anyone interested in writing should contact me.

This isn’t the only change for this year’s ACCJ Journal, however. Beginning in March, the magazine will have a new look and fresh content, with more pages dedicated to business insight from journalists and thought leaders. Stay tuned for more.

Sparkling people and cities
Our February issue shines a spotlight on Japan’s two largest cities, Tokyo and Yokohama; although, if we’re getting technical, Tokyo is not actually a shi (city)—like Shinjuku—but, rather, a to (metropolis).

Under this classification, Yokohama is the country’s largest city, and certainly one of its most ambitious. This month’s cover story profiles mayor Fumiko Hayashi, a sharp-witted visionary with an impressive business background.

Before turning her talents to municipal government, Hayashi was at the helm of several multinational companies’ Japan operations, including BMW and Volkswagen. Her dedication to women’s advancement and support for foreign business have earned her the distinguished ACCJ Person of the Year Award for 2014.

According to a recent report, Tokyo ranks first in the Asia–Pacific region for soft power, or its ability to attract and influence through non-forceful means.

As the competition for globally minded talent heats up, people’s perception of cities as desirable (or not) places to live and work will heavily determine which metropolis takes the lion’s share of human and economic capital.

In particular, the study underscores the importance of the “creative class,” individuals who largely contribute to innovation. Soft-power drivers will also be a factor in attracting foreign direct investment, a topic that is taken up in our article on last year’s Invest Tokyo Seminar.

Getting smarter
Finally, according to the predictions of acclaimed geomancer Paul Ng, the Year of the Wooden Sheep should be especially auspicious for industries such as real estate, food, automobiles, mining, banking, and electronics.

This is good news for energy companies, which are increasingly capitalizing on the opportunities presented by smart technology.



Brandi Goode


Beginning in March, the magazine will have a new look and fresh content.