The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Last year marked the 70th anniver­sary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), and this milestone brought high-profile successes. Fruitful Doorknocks to Washington, DC, and the Japanese Diet, as well as major media appearances by ACCJ leaders on CNBC and in Mainichi Shimbun, high­lighted the power of the chamber’s voice as an advocate for US companies in Japan.

Two new groups—the F500 CEO Council and SME CEO Council—were formed to provide greater collaboration among executives and strengthen the focus and positions of the chamber. And the ACCJ’s value proposition was also enhanced with the launch of the Member Value Project, part of efforts to modernize the way in which the chamber operates.

These only scratch the surface of an event­ful year, and all this work to strengthen the chamber’s founda­tion has put the ACCJ in a strong position to play a vital role as key voice in the crafting of a new bilateral US–Japan Trade Agree­ment, negotiations for which are expected to begin soon.

In the Chinese zodiac, this year belongs to the earth boar. One of five boars, each of which appear once every 60 years, it is a sign associated with good social skills and the ability to maintain interpersonal relations—both strengths of the ACCJ and important in navigating important advocacy issues.

On January 23 at the Imperial Hotel, 300 ACCJ members and guests ushered in the year of the earth boar at the annual shinnenkai. ACCJ Healthcare Committee Chair and 2018 Leader of the Year John W. Carlson III served as master of cere­mony, and ACCJ President Sachin N. Shah spoke of the successes of the chamber last year and the challenges to come. Special guest Toru Ishida, president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also shared his views on Japan’s role in the global economy and the importance of the ACCJ.

Following the kagami-biraki—the cere­monial cracking open of a sake barrel—members and guests enjoyed drinks, food, and a wonderful evening of conver­sa­tion and networking. It was the perfect start of what promises to be another remarkable year for the chamber. 

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.