The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


December 2013


At the ACCJ Ordinary General Meeting on October 30, I gave the following Executive Director’s Report to the 78 attendees.

“It has been a busy year, and it’s not over yet. The reason for the ACCJ’s increased activity could be Abenomics, the uptick in visitors from Washington DC now that Japan is part of the TPP, Larry Bates’ energetic presidency, or something else. However, one reason I am sure of is the enthusiasm of our members.

“We now have 58 Corporate Sustaining Members—up nine from the end of last year—while the number of events and attendees are both up 6 percent through September. We have received over 1,200 Facebook likes, congratulated two Persons of the Year, and estimate that Bates has handed out well over 300 shikishi [Japanese art boards] to guest speakers.

“Further, I believe in 2013 we are in a very different advocacy environment. Since the inception of our organization, our advocacy focus has been bilateral; our working relationship with US government trade policy factors is close, our access to Japanese policymakers is excellent, and our successes have been significant. We’re good at bilateral trade advocacy, but for years we’ve been moving to a more regional and multilateral model.

“And now, in 2013, we have arrived. The need for bilateral engagement is not going to disappear, but it will no longer be the only or—for some members—the main game in town.

“Many of our members and committees are already making this transition. The ACCJ dominates the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce advocacy process. We also have leaders who are deeply engaged with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members and other regional bodies.

“So regional and multilateral engagement is not new for us. What is new, I believe, is the extent to which regional and even global engagement has reached in and grabbed Japan.

“Japan’s participation in the TPP really is a game changer. A team from Washington was recently in Tokyo for talks with other TPP member countries on intellectual property. Although they were not here to meet with us, what is discussed matters to us.

“This process is very different from traditional bilateral engagements. Of course, the embassy will be an important channel, but we need to think about how the ACCJ should approach this multilateral process.

“Further, our members are already answering the global engagement challenge. For example, the ACCJ’s Harry Hill became involved in the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), which represents the interests of direct-to-consumer marketers. In fact, Hill became so involved that he was elected to serve as chairman of the ERA, a Washington-based position in a globally expanding association filled by a successful entrepreneur from Nagoya.

“In addition, the ACCJ Healthcare Committee partnered with the European Business Council to produce the Health Policy White Paper 2013.

“And finally, this year we did our part to ensure that perhaps the greatest festival of globalization will take place in Tokyo in 2020. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games is vital to Japan and important to the United States, but it’s hardly a bilateral effort.

“Our committees, members, and leaders are on top of the globalization process. Next year, I believe we should try to sit back and look at what the globalization of our advocacy might mean for the ACCJ as a whole.”