The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

At the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), advocacy is a key part of our mission. General Douglas MacArthur welcomed the ACCJ’s founding in 1948 with this in mind, telling founding president Dennis McEvoy he hoped “to avail himself of the mature business thinking of the members of the chamber.”

Today, the ACCJ continues to be the preeminent advocate for US businesses in Japan. Our ability to quickly focus resources on key issues that matter to our members—regardless of company size—is unrivaled in Japan and the region. That is why relevant and strong advocacy is one of our strategic focus areas this year as a changing external environment continues to present challenges and opportunities for US businesses in Japan.

TAXATION
The ACCJ Small Company CEO Advisory Council, formed earlier this year to give voice to this important membership segment, has taken the lead in bringing attention to the potentially damaging impact of the GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income) rule and Transition Tax introduced as a part of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

In close collaboration with the Taxation Committee, the council has brought this issue to the forefront, raising awareness and sharing with US policymakers specific recommendations to alleviate the negative impact of these rules. Last month, the council carried out a two-day Doorknock in Washington, DC, meeting with key Congressional offices and the US Department of the Treasury to further advocate on this issue. These discussions not only further distinguished the ACCJ as an organization that represents the needs of US businesses—large and small—they led to agreement by the Department of the Treasury’s International Tax Affairs team to explore possible remedies.

WORKFORCE PRODUCTIVITY
This spring, the ACCJ launched the F500 CEO Advisory Council to better harness the power of another unique member segment: the leaders of the chamber’s largest member companies. A focus of this council is workforce productivity, which has seen progress in the form of recent workstyle reform legislation. The council has identified areas where further action could result in a more flexible and productive workforce. Based on these discussions, the ACCJ will release a public statement that will help set the direction of the chamber’s advocacy on this important issue.

Meanwhile, in September, the Human Resource Management Committee published a viewpoint endorsed by four other foreign chambers of commerce that makes the business case for same-sex marriage based on the ability of companies to recruit and retain talent in Japan.

BILATERAL DIALOGUE
The US–Japan economic partnership is one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships, representing about 30 percent of global GDP.

Using our policy positions on key industry sectors, including healthcare and autos, the chamber is playing an informative role and advocating, through several ongoing and valued engagements, the need for an active, ongoing trade and economic dialogue with Japan—regardless of whether the United States and Japan launch talks about bilateral or multilateral free-trade agreements. Most recently, these have included regular meetings with US Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty and the US Embassy, visiting US government officials, and Japanese stakeholders in which the expertise of ACCJ members continues to be leveraged to ensure discussions support a constructive trajectory.

DIET DOORKNOCK
The annual Diet Doorknock is the chamber’s largest consoli­dated advocacy initiative—an opportunity to communicate the business priorities of our members directly to Japanese policymakers. Between November 13 and 21, we will again be leading this outreach with a focus on the ACCJ’s five priority advocacy themes:

  • US–Japan Economic Partnership
  • Health and Retirement
  • Digital Economy
  • Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  • Workforce Productivity

This will also be a chance to emphasize our policy priorities and solidify relationships with members of the Japanese government as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks towards the next phase of his premiership. Our effort to engage policymakers as a chamber benefits all member companies—large or small—and the global business community.

The ACCJ’s committee, council, and advocacy pillar structure drives the work that keeps the chamber relevant to the US–Japan economic partnership, and I would like to thank the leaders and members of each of these groups. As always, I welcome your questions or comments.

Please contact me at sshah@accj.or.jp.

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.
Our ability to quickly focus resources . . . is unrivaled in Japan and the region.