The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Welcome back after the summer. I hope you are feeling refreshed and ready for the many exciting things in store through the remainder of 2018.

As I mentioned in my column last month, this is a significant year for the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) as we celebrate our 70th anniversary. It is a key moment to strengthen our foundation for the next 70 years and to make changes to ensure we are positioned for sustainable growth, improve the member value proposition, and continue to deliver on our important mission in a changing environment.

MEMBERS FIRST
The ACCJ embarked on a major initiative this year—the Membership Value Project (MVP)—to ensure the chamber is well-positioned to meet the needs of our growing and diverse membership.

Your feedback has been critical throughout this process. A proposal to rebalance dues and enhance member benefits and value for money while enabling strategic investments in our capabilities is now being reviewed by the board of governors.

A key opportunity for members to become involved in the chamber is the Ordinary General Meeting (OGM), to be held October 23 from 6:30 p.m. at Tokyo American Club. The OGM is the opportunity for voting members to come together to discuss matters critical to the future of the ACCJ and to vote for their choice of candidates for the chamber’s governors and officers. Members will also hear reports from the treasurer and executive director, and I will share my State of the Chamber report.

We have also moved forward with several changes to improve service to members and committee leaders. Photos and key information can now be uploaded to committee pages. This increases transparency in our processes and provides visibility into committee activities. An updated Leadership Guide is also available on the ACCJ website.

Earlier this year, we shared details about two new programs that give a greater voice to leaders from companies of all sizes into the chamber’s activities: the Small Company CEO Advisory Council and the F500 CEO Advisory Council. The Small Company Council is working closely with the Taxation Committee to address the unintended consequences of US 2017 tax legislation for small business owners in Japan. Meanwhile, the F500 Council held its second meeting at the end of July focusing on needed reform of Japan’s work­force productivity.

PILLARS OF CHANGE
Advocacy on behalf of US businesses in Japan continues to be an important area of the chamber’s focus. This year, the ACCJ is prioritizing five cross-cutting advocacy themes that are key to unlocking Japan’s growth potential:

  1. US–Japan Economic Partnership
  2. Digital Economy
  3. Health and Retirement
  4. Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  5. Workforce Productivity

Work is underway on all five. The Healthcare Committee and its subcommittees are working to move forward with financial services-related committees to develop a multiple-stakeholder blueprint for the future sustainability of Japan’s healthcare and retirement system. These efforts highlight the power of a cross-committee approach to find common ground and advance debate on one of Japan’s biggest challenges and opportunities.

Digital Economy is another area of cross-committee activity. In July, the chamber co-hosted the 9th US–Japan Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy in Washington, DC together with Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation. Topics critical to the future of government–industry collaboration were discussed.

An additional point of high-level contact with the Japanese government—the annual Diet Doorknock—is coming up in October. For the past 23 years, these meetings with Diet members, Cabinet ministers, vice-ministers, and heads of regulatory bodies have served as an effective avenue for the ACCJ to communicate its priority issues. We expect this year’s Diet Doorknock to be the most strategic and productive yet, and we will update you on the results in a future issue of The ACCJ Journal.

LET’S CELEBRATE!
Lastly, I would like to invite you to help celebrate the chamber’s history of achievements and our look to the future at the 70th anniversary party, to be held on October 16 at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. Look for more information on the ACCJ website and in the weekly Insider newsletter.

Our past is a record to be proud of, but our most exciting and productive years are to come. I’m honored to be ACCJ president during this special year and to have the opportunity to work with so many of you to shape that future. As always, I welcome your questions or comments. Please contact me at sshah@accj.or.jp.

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.