The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Commitment to Connections

It was wonderful seeing so many of you at the Tokyo, Kansai and Chubu shinnenkais.

As I mentioned in my remarks, two words come to mind as representing the two “Cs” in ACCJ: a commitment to enhancing connections between our countries, our businesses and one another. All of you impress and inspire me daily with that commitment to fostering strong, deep and enduring connections.

The ACCJ is a member-driven organization, and your commitment to supporting the Chamber and to connecting with other members is essential to the long-term sustainability of the organization. This month I would like to celebrate some of the longest-standing commitments and newest connections within the Chamber.

The Chamber’s longest-standing company member is Citigroup. The First National City Bank (which is now known as Citibank) has been a member of the ACCJ since 1948 and the bank’s representatives attended the ACCJ’s first meeting the same year.

The Chamber’s longest-standing individual member is David Wouters, President of InterSearch Japan. David joined the ACCJ in 1971 and has served in many leadership roles over the years. He is currently a Vice-Chair of the Membership Relations Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Task Force.

The Chamber’s newest company member is McDonald’s Japan, and last month 34 new individual members joined the Chamber.

When you attend an ACCJ event and see “New Member” on a person’s nametag, that means he or she joined the Chamber within the last three months. Please join me in extending a warm ACCJ welcome whenever you meet a new member.

There is an upcoming opportunity for you to connect with your peers in the Asia–Pacific Region. The 2015 Summit of the Asia–Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) will be held March 11–13 at the Singapore Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

This year’s theme is “The United States and Asia – New Opportunities in the Pacific Century.” There is a reduced registration fee for those who register by February. For more information, please see

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the News
This year the ACCJ will continue to voice its strong support for a high-standard 21st-century TPP agreement that covers all elements of trade and investment.

Many signs from various corners point to an agreement emerging in the near future, perhaps as early as March.

Last month, U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told Reuters, “On the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. Trade Representative has been calling a number of us and saying that he thinks we are sort of on a two-month trajectory to getting something he’d like us to take up in Congress.”

I welcome this positive news and look forward to working with others throughout the Chamber as we enter a new phase of engagement once the negotiations are concluded.

It will be important for the Chamber and other business organizations to convey to key legislators on both sides of the Pacific the importance of ratifying the agreement, so that consumers, businesses and others in both countries and all the TPP-participating nations can enjoy the benefits of this historic trade-liberalizing agreement.

This likely will be one of the key themes that we bring to Washington during this year’s DC Doorknock.

Board Planning Sessions
At the beginning of each year, the Board of Governors conducts one or more planning sessions to set the high-level agenda and goals for the year. As part of that process, I asked each member of the Board to consider the following questions:

1. What opportunities for growth do you think the Chamber is facing now and in the next three to five years? In what new directions would you like the Chamber to head in the short and medium term?

2. What would you like to see the Chamber improve or change in the short and medium term?

I welcome your feedback in response to these important questions as well. Laura Younger and I always welcome your feedback, recommendations and other ideas for the Chamber. If it is easier for you, please share your ideas using the ACCJ member idea/suggestion box (



Jay Ponazecki