The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The relationship that the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has with the US government—including the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, and consulates in Japan—is a cornerstone of our ability to successfully advocate on behalf of our member companies. It is an honor to serve as ACCJ president while ongoing bilateral US–Japan trade negotiations are taking place.

We are fortunate to have a membership comprising dedicated and experienced professionals who ensure that we are engaging at the highest caliber possible. Chairman Christopher LaFleur has been an invaluable champion for US business in Japan throughout the negotiation process. His testimony to the United States Trade Representative in December 2018 made our positions clear, and his recent print and TV appearances have helped ensure that we remain at the table. I thank our focused Executive Committee, our DC Doorknock participants, and the hundreds of ACCJ members who contribute countless volunteer hours to our mission.

Meeting the President
During the recent visit to Japan by US President Donald Trump, the ACCJ brand afforded me the once-in-a-lifetime chance to build on our engagement with the US government. On May 25, I represented the ACCJ at a business roundtable with President Trump. He welcomed me, as a distinguished guest and ACCJ President, in his remarks after welcoming United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. I am certain this acknowledgement was based on his awareness of the more than 70 years of leadership, commitment, and positive contributions of ACCJ members.

President Trump’s address made clear the high value of the US–Japan economic relationship and the myriad opportunities for Japanese investment that continue in the United States. He also stressed the importance of partnership between the US and Japanese business communities.

Voice of US Business
While talking to the influential Japanese business leaders present, I felt the ACCJ’s impact as the voice of US business in Japan. Several executives remarked on how much they value the ACCJ’s role in helping shape the US–Japan economic relationship. I have followed up with a number of these executives about engaging the ACCJ and potentially speaking to our membership. The response I have received reinforces the positive perception of the chamber.

It was a privilege to represent the ACCJ in our first meeting with a sitting US President in more than two decades, and I am energized by the positive interactions I had at the roundtable. It is also clear that US Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty has an outstanding rapport with Japanese business leaders, and there is a high degree of mutual respect.

Bringing Advocacy Closer
While I was privileged to represent our membership at one of the highest levels possible, it is very evident that the majority of the ACCJ’s advocacy work takes place at the committee level.

ACCJ committees engage in extremely important activities to effect change that benefits the business environment in Japan. I am inspired by these passionate members and their strong drive to fulfill their committees’ goals in line with the chamber’s mission.

The ACCJ’s External Affairs team is focused on enhancing the ability of committees to execute their advocacy efforts. And they want to make clear how the ACCJ’s advocacy efforts add value for all members. To advance this vision, the External Affairs team is taking advocacy on the road! They will visit committees over the coming months to help members access and understand this critical function of the chamber.

It is my hope that these efforts to engage you will further support committee initiatives.

Meaningful Fourth
As the Fourth of July approaches, I’m optimistic about the ACCJ’s continued engagement to strengthen the US–Japan economic relationship. Some of my greatest memories of Independence Day are going to the parade in our small town and paying tribute to the military veterans’ groups that carried the American flag. I feel fortunate that my company, Dow, is a proud sponsor of the US Embassy’s Independence Day celebration. I look forward to thanking representatives of the US government and members of the US military for their service to our country.

As the ACCJ moves forward, I ask that you continue to engage with me, the Board of Directors, and your fellow ACCJ members so that we remain one of the most valuable resources available to businesses in Japan. And my best wishes for a Happy Independence Day!

Your guidance and suggestions are always welcome. You can reach me at pjennings@accj.or.jp

Peter M. Jennings is ACCJ President.
It was a privilege to represent the ACCJ in our first meeting with a sitting US President in more than two decades.