The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


April 2014
The Ball’s in Your Court
Samuel Kidder

ACCJ leaders have been thinking about and discussing our annual ball, held in Tokyo. I’m sure they would welcome your input.

We’ve been at this ball business for quite a while. In 1954, our members received a formal invitation to the annual dinner party from the Board of Governors.

The event cost ¥1,200 each, featured the installation of officers, a floor show, and dancing to the music of the New Pacific Orchestra under the direction of Shin Matsumoto.

The menu would have been at home in a sitcom from the 1950s: fruit cocktail, beef sirloin, baked potatoes, string beans and peas, and an exotic Bombe aux Amandes Pralinées avec Café.

By 1994, members were attending the Crystal Ball, themed “Return to Atlantis” that year. I’m quite sure the theme was set long before the financials came in. But the event, like its theme, was underwater by over ¥1.5 million.

The ball was an inauguration celebration and, from the podium, Ambassador Walter Mondale congratulated re-elected ACCJ President Tom Jordan. Tom’s leadership proved crucial to the ACCJ’s bid to take our charitable efforts to a new level.

When the Kobe earthquake struck in 1995, the ACCJ responded quickly and generously. An institutional outgrowth of this experience was our creation of the member body that is now established under our constitution as the Community Service Advisory Council (CSAC) that vets charities to maximize the impact of our giving.

More recently, under President Emeritus Mike Alfant’s strong leadership, our response to the triple disaster in Tohoku was truly impressive. Meanwhile, in 2002 the Annual Crystal Ball had morphed into the Charity Ball.

While the chamber has always been generous in response to emergency needs in our host country, by establishing the ball as a charity event, our giving became more institutionalized.

In the 12 years since the first Charity Ball, the ACCJ has donated over ¥130 million to worthy causes above and beyond our responses to special appeals, such as the Kobe and Tohoku tragedies.

Event surveys in the past few years show that attendees really appreciate the ball’s organization and have a great time eating, drinking, dancing, and talking with friends. And the leaders of CSAC have been pleased that we have been able to use proceeds from the event to support selected charities.

But what should the ball be in 2014? Let your elected leaders know what you think. It’s your ball.



Samuel Kidder