The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Progress and Thanks

Samuel Kidder

As I wind up eight-and-a-half years with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, I’d like to offer some thoughts on the changes I’ve seen during my tenure.

As a membership organization, it makes sense to talk first about membership trends. After absorbing the impacts of the Lehman Shock and 3/11, membership is now back up above 3,000, and we’ve had major changes in member composition.

In 2006, we had fewer than 40 Corporate Sustaining Members; today we have 64. We are now majority Japanese membership, and our percentage of women has climbed from 11.2 percent to 27.2 percent.

Our financial condition is robust, and we’ve become masters at efficiently managing resources. Now, we need to become more creative in devising ways of delivering value to members.

Careful management has provided the ACCJ with a strong underpinning that allows us to experiment without risking the fundamental stability of our organization.

The revision of our constitution was also a major achievement. Just like our financial stability, our foundation for governing the chamber is solid.

Our advocacy is professional and effective. In 2006 we hoped for an Economic Partnership Agreement.

Today, our governments are, we hope, closing in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that will fundamentally change regional trade. Our healthcare white papers have created dozens of wins on regulatory issues.

The Internet Economy Task Force has pioneered public/private negotiations that have not just provided the content of bilateral trade talks, but have established new structures in which such dialogues take place.

Our involvement with the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers has transformed that organization into an effective policy tool further expanding the ACCJ’s influence.

The chamber’s response to the events of 3/11 was undoubtedly a crossroads in our 65 years.
Our steadfast commitment to Japan and all our friends here demonstrated that we are an integral part of this community. For those who thought we might just pick up and leave, we didn’t and we won’t.

I’ve been proud of our CSR efforts. I’ll remember the highlights of some wonderful programs for years to come. And I’ve met and worked with so many remarkable people, leaders, members, and fellow staffers.

It has been a professional privilege and a personal pleasure to work with all of you.

When I first arrived in Japan in 1988 as an eager commercial officer, Ambassador Mike Mansfield was near the end of his long and distinguished service.

He was fond of describing US–Japan ties as the “most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none.” The ACCJ plays a vital role in maintaining and enhancing that relationship. Without a doubt that makes us the most important American chamber in the world, bar none.



Samuel Kidder is

executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.