The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

President | ACCJ Ahead

September 2013


The fall will be a critical time for us to make a difference

Larry Bates @ACCJPresident

Larry Bates

I hope you had a chance to get some rest over the summer, because the fall promises to be a busy and productive time for the ACCJ. There has never been a more critical period to really make a difference.

All the signals we have been getting from the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and from officials in the key ministries indicate that Japan’s leaders recognize that this fall is vital if they want to succeed in reinvigorating the economy.

We are pleased to see that so much of the policy discussion includes proposals and even language that echoes the ACCJ Growth Strategy Task Force’s 2010 white paper, Charting a New Course for Growth—Recommendations for Japan’s Leaders.

I firmly believe that over the next few months, the ACCJ will make tremendous progress in furthering its mission of developing commerce between the United States and Japan and promoting the interests of members. We look to take full advantage of some unprecedented opportunities to improve the international business environment here, and if you are already participating in this effort, thank you. If not, I urge you to become involved.

The next few months will also be critical in shaping the chamber to meet the challenges ahead. We remain financially strong, with member engagement as high as ever, but have not been immune to the difficulties of the past several years.

While we can all take pride in our vigorous response to the events surrounding the triple disaster of 3/11, our hosting of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) US–Asia Business Summit in 2012, and the continual upgrading of our communications presence, we need to focus now on the chamber’s future.

To do this we need to build up the membership; increasing the number of members as well as encouraging even greater member engagement.

Earlier this year, the board approved a Special Presidential Task Force to assess the value of our three major categories, namely, the CEO/CSM Engagement Working Group, the Company Member/SME Member Outreach Working Group, and the Japanese Member Engagement Working Group.

These groups gave excellent presentations at the July board meeting and we are currently looking at how to move forward on many of their ideas. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, and strongly urge you to bring your suggestions to me, to the office or to any of the ACCJ leaders.

The CEO/CSM Working Group is led by Monika Merz and Harry Hill. We have seen strong growth over the past 18 months in this membership category, as a growing number of executives from larger companies have come to recognize the benefits of ACCJ membership.

The Company Member/SME Working Group, co-chaired by Michael Bobrove and Shaun Dubin, provided an outstanding road map for exploration of how best to improve member satisfaction of this key category.

The Japanese Member Working Group, co-chaired by Megumi Azuma and Ken Katayama, analyzed and proposed how the ACCJ can better serve this growing membership demographic, a group whose engagement level lags behind that of our non-Japanese members.

We have plenty of other activities on the calendar. On September 21, along with the Tokyo American Club (TAC), we will host the fifth annual ACCJ Tokyo Walkathon and the TAC Great American Block Party.

Then, on October 4, we will join our Canadian colleagues to defend our championship North American team at the 11th annual Mercedes-Benz Japan Cup at Atsugi Kokusai Country Club. If you haven’t seen the MBJC trophy—stop by the office and take a look.

Whatever your plans this fall, I hope to see you at upcoming ACCJ events ( and look forward to more chances to engage with you wherever it may be—online, in these pages or, best of all, in person. •

ACCJ-E-COVER.inddRecent policy discussions have included proposals based on the ACCJ’s 2010 white paper, Charting a New Course for Growth—Recommendations for Japan’s Leaders.


The next few months will … be critical in shaping the chamber to meet the challenges ahead.”