The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Executive Director | New Connections

November 2013
THE ACCJ AND FRIENDS
Samuel Kidder

Overseas Security Advisory Council
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to attend three sessions of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), which focuses on security issues of importance to the business community here.

Many OSAC members are security professionals at major American companies, of which plenty are ACCJ members. However, many of the security professionals are not necessarily ACCJ members.

Most of us can remember the tense days after March 11, 2011 and the significant communication challenges we all faced. The ACCJ worked with the embassy during those difficult days, and our member companies certainly relied on their own security professionals.

One piece of the puzzle that was missing, however, was that the ACCJ, as an organization, did not have a working relationship with OSAC. Now we do.

To further strengthen this relationship, I suggest that ACCJ member companies with their own security teams not already active in OSAC explore whether they might want to join.

And for ACCJ member companies that are already members of OSAC, I urge you to make sure that your OSAC representatives are added to your company roster of ACCJ members.

Trans-Pacific Partnership
Since the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is moving fast, it may be dangerous to say anything about it that immediately might not be overtaken by events. But I’ll try.

Having been around Japan and US trade policy discussions much of my adult life, I believe I have earned the right to be a bit cynical. So I’m surprised to find myself as optimistic as I am at this point.

In our recent Diet Doorknock, there was a strong theme among elected officials that Japan is on the right track and needs to get moving. The Democratic Party of Japan members can’t complain since they started the process, while the Liberal Democratic Party members back Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strong leadership to move the process along.

We’ve met a number of times with American officials, who seem generally to agree that Japan’s integration into the TPP process has been very smooth.

Congressional Delegations
Japan appears to be back on the agenda for our elected friends in Washington. So far this year in Japan, ACCJ leaders have met with more visiting senators and representatives—known as Congressional Delegations—than in 2012.

The numbers are still smaller than we’d like, but the eagerness of American politicians to engage with Japan is clearly on an upswing. Optimism about Abenomics is one factor, while the Obama administration’s emphasis on Asia is another.

From Tokyo and through the lens of the media, Washington politics seems to lurch from crisis to crisis. But the interest in Japan is not a scramble to be photographed at the latest trouble spot. Rather, it is a growing and mature recognition that, in a place where crisis is all too common, the need for friends is more important than ever.