The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


June 2014
Maintaining the Positive Momentum

I had the pleasure of leading a strong delegation of ACCJ leaders on the ACCJ’s annual DC Doorknock from April 30 to May 2.

We held 35 meetings with members of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Congress, Ambassador of Japan to the United States Kenichiro Sasae, several leading think tanks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and McLarty Associates.

We delivered a strong message, emphasizing the importance of all facets of the US–Japan relationship—commercial, strategic, geo-political and otherwise—and of the United States and Japan continuing to lead multi-party negotiations with a view of reaching a robust and high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the earliest possible date.

Key sectoral themes included healthcare and strong cooperation on energy and in the Internet economy where the official dialog between the United States and Japan in both the government and the private sector continues to serve as a model of collaboration. We were heartened by what seems to be a growing refocus on Japan and the US–Japan relationship.

Among the many productive meetings we had, we were fortunate to be in Washington D.C. soon after the recent establishment of the Congressional Caucus on Japan and to be able to meet with many legislators for the first time—establishing important relationships that will remain critical as we face the prospect of TPP ratification in the future and given other key issues of interest to ACCJ members involving the US–Japan relationship.

Many thanks to Bill Bishop, Tom Clark, Andy Conrad, Larry Greenwood, Chris LaFleur, Allan Smith and Yoshitaka Sugihara for joining the delegation, to Ethan Schwalbe for setting up the meetings and to Sam Kidder, Asami Ide, Noriko Ijichi and Rie Kimura for all their support.

Global talent viewpoint
Our committee leaders have been very busy issuing viewpoints. In particular, please read a recent viewpoint which, unlike most viewpoints that provide recommendations to the Japanese government, calls on ACCJ member companies to alter their hiring practices to better accommodate Japanese students who choose to study abroad and develop skills needed in today’s global economy. The viewpoint can be found at:

Going forward, we will likely see more viewpoints providing recommendations to ACCJ member companies.

Your feedback matters

One of my key objectives this year is to think outside the box in finding ways to enhance the membership experience of as many ACCJ members as possible. Thank you to those of you who participated in the focus groups kindly conducted for the Chamber by CarterJMRN.

The June Board of Governors meeting will be dedicated largely to hearing and acting on the results of this qualitative research. Please continue to provide us with your invaluable feedback throughout the year.

Tokyo 2020 and ACCJ 2020

We are reaching out to other foreign chambers of commerce in Japan to establish a cross-chamber leadership committee to act as a central point of contact between public sector stakeholders and the various chambers of commerce. The key goals are to coordinate activities to best support the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Games and other public sector stakeholders and to maximize Tokyo 2020 opportunities for chamber members.

Much of Japan is focused on realizing certain goals by 2020—capturing the momentum of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am sure you are developing five-year business plans and making strategic decisions based on how you would like your businesses to grow over the next five years. I have tasked the Board of Governors with discussing its vision for the ACCJ in 2020 and the steps that need to be taken now in order to realize that vision.

I also welcome hearing your 2020 vision for the Chamber. Please let me know your thoughts on how we can further leverage Tokyo 2020, what will make your ACCJ membership relevant and compelling in 2020 and how technological advances could further enhance your membership experience.

As part of this forward-looking approach and to help develop the next generation of US–Japan leaders, I am pleased to announce the launch of a pilot program this fall: the Young Professionals Forum (YPF).

It will feature peer-led programs, monthly mentor forums and training and networking activities in providing a value-added platform for young professionals to establish new connections with peers and senior business leaders.

All existing members aged 35 and younger will be invited to participate and our member companies will have the opportunity to support the YPF by providing mentors and sponsoring events.

More information will be provided as we begin marketing this exciting pilot program.



Jay Ponazecki