The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Seventy years ago, at a time when Japan and the world were rebuilding in the wake of World War II, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) was founded with 49 companies, five of which are still members today. Amid those challenging times, General Douglas MacArthur, who commanded the reconstruction effort, recognized the important role US business should play to support the much needed economic development and revival of the Japanese economy.

On August 31, 1948, our founding president, Dennis McEvoy, recounted in a letter to members his first meeting with MacArthur and how the General, “welcomed most enthusiasti­cally the appearance of our organization and extends to it his approbation and support . . . as the body and spirit of American business in Japan.”

He also recalled how MacArthur “expressed the desire to avail himself of the mature business thinking of the members of the chamber, the [members] here today who represent major American . . . organizations.”

At that time, we had no committees, put on very few events, and represented a new, very foreign contingency on the Japanese economic landscape. What we did have, however, was a very clear mandate to furthering commerce between the US and Japan, supporting Japan’s economic rehabilitation and improving the international business environment in Japan.

TREMENDOUS GROWTH
Over these past 70 years, we’ve witnessed tremendous growth in the US–Japan economic partnership. The United States and Japan, which together represent 30 percent of global GDP, have forged an economic relationship that accounts for millions of jobs and thousands of long-standing partnerships.

Together, we’ve also established a set of shared values that foster leadership in and extend high-standard business practices across the region. The power of our economic partnership has also become a cornerstone of the US–Japan alliance and a source of strength and stability within our bilateral security relationship.

Throughout this journey, ACCJ members have—in the words of McEvoy—“subordinated our ambitions as businessmen to the greater call of our primary duties as citizens of the United States,” and in so doing also become an indispensable partner for Japan and its economy.

We should be proud of our mission and our values, which were instilled from the very beginning 70 years ago. Thanks to those before us, we stand upon a strong foundation and now have an obligation as members to ensure our actions are equally bold and visionary so that the relevance and strength of the ACCJ may endure for the next 70 years.

OPPORTUNE MOMENT
The approval by the Board of Governors on October 16 of the Membership Value Project (MVP) proposal underscores the chamber’s readiness for the future, addressing long-standing feedback from members by committing to invest in the upgrade and modernization of the ways in which the chamber does business. By being better able to harness the power of our members and our committees, we will ensure relevant and strong advocacy on the issues that affect member companies as a new chapter in US–Japan economic relations opens.

As always, let me thank you for what you do every day to represent the chamber. We continue to listen to you.

Please reach me with any comments or questions at sshah@accj.or.jp.

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.
We stand upon a strong foundation and now have an obligation as members to ensure our actions are equally bold and visionary