The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


Doorknocks Work
Samuel Kidder

As we prepare for our fall Diet Doorknock, it might be interesting—at least for me—to see where we were when I first took the executive director position in 2006, and compare that to where we are now.

In 2006 we were going in to our visits with Diet members with 17 approved viewpoints in hand.

This year, we have 32 active viewpoints as of this writing. Past experience teaches us that this number will increase as committees submit new advocacy positions in the lead-up to the Doorknock. So, by the simplest measure, it seems we have a lot more to talk about with Diet members than we did eight years ago.

If we look more closely, it is clear that for some viewpoints our position has prevailed, while for some we have made considerable progress but are still seeking improvement (rule-making transparency, for example). There are others we’re still working on, and are likely to continue doing so.

Precursor to TPP?
A major theme of the ’06 Doorknock was our push for “the United States and Japan to commit to the vision of concluding a bilateral Economic Integration Agreement, or EIA.”

Now that we are down to the details in the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions, it is clear that we are way beyond committing to a vision and exploring a framework for addressing issues.

We can also point out that meeting with the ACCJ can have a very positive impact on a Diet member’s career progress. Eight years ago, we met with Eriko Yamatani, who then held the position of assistant to the prime minister on educational revitalization.

This year, we will be requesting to meet again with Yamatani, who now has an expanded portfolio in the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Meeting with the ACCJ not only has boosted the careers of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet members, but also has worked well for New Komeito member Akihiro Ohta, who now holds an office with the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.

Yoichi Masuzoe went on from his chat with us to be elected governor of Tokyo, and Sadakazu Tanigaki, at that time already a former minister of finance, continues to be a political heavyweight as secretary-general of the LDP.

Current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was unable to meet with us in 2006, but we did have a chance to sit down with him during our Doorknocks in 2009 and 2010.

So my point is: the Doorknock works. We make progress on the issues. We meet the right people. And we gain valuable insights and build useful relationships that we can use to further the ACCJ’s mission in Japan.



Samuel Kidder