The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

With the start of each year comes assessment of our direction and progress to clarify them against our most current view of our objectives and situation. This was a primary item for the January meeting of the newly elected American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Board of Governors, which confirmed our three strategic focus areas—membership centricity, relevant and strong advocacy, and operational excellence—as well as the five pillars of our advocacy focus:

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

In their discussion, the Board also updated the objectives for each of our three strategic focus areas, reflecting the approval in October 2018 of proposals based on the Membership Value Project (MVP), upcoming negotiations for a US–Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), and Japan’s hosting of the G20 Summit. Also confirmed was a focus on using member time efficiently and bringing increased transparency to the ACCJ’s activities and processes.

While preparations for many of these are still ongoing, let me outline for you where we are and what lies ahead in several of these key activities.

Under our Workforce Productivity pillar, the Women in Business (WIB) Summit has become an annual forum through which the ACCJ has continued to drive and advance the dialog on opportunities for women in the workforce—a critical topic that is now a central pillar of the Japanese government’s approach to workforce productivity.

On February 28, the latest summit will leverage its position as one of the premier workplace-diversity events in Japan to offer a platform for related issues, including LGBT matters, leadership, and technology. The summit promises to again push forward the role of women in the workforce and to provide a platform for discussion of a broad range of topics that fall under the Workforce Productivity pillar. If you have not already registered, I highly recommend that you do so. It will be a day very well spent.

The ACCJ aspires to replicate the WIB success by creating business summits for each of the other pillars. Through such events, the chamber can bring together its viewpoints and those of industries on critical questions for government and policymakers to address. Work is now underway on a Digital Economy Summit, and discussions continue among leaders of our other pillars. There will be more information on these as preparations progress.

Following two significant Doorknocks in Washington, DC, in 2018, both our Diet Doorknock in Tokyo and Chairman Christopher LaFleur’s testimony to the US Trade Representative in December have clearly conveyed our priorities to key stake­holders in both US and Japanese policymaking circles.

With this opening for significant engagement, the ACCJ is preparing to bring forward its annual DC Doorknock to focus efforts on the negotiating objectives of the United States for the 2019 USJTA talks. The aim is for this to take place in spring, and the agenda is to be centered on our analysis of the United States Trade Representative’s statement of objectives and our presentation of issues thus far.

There will, of course, be follow-up on the significant issues of residency-based taxation and GILTI—the Global Intangible Low-taxed Income provision. Thanks to last September’s issue-specific DC Doorknock, engagement with the US Department of the Treasury continues and a promising legislative proposal has been tabled for Congress to consider this year. Together, these developments are exciting and show how the chamber is ensuring that our advocacy efforts remain flexible, enabling us to be relevant and strong in our delivery.

Execution against the proposals developed from the Membership Value Project (MVP) are well underway, with trials of a digital plat­form being carried out by the ACCJ office under guidance of the Communications Advisory Council to provide communica­tions and collabora­tion tools for our committees to roll out later this year. Alongside this, automation of our accounting and core processes continues with the aim of bringing together automated processing and self-service options around member­ship functions.

One key outcome of the efforts now underway from the MVP proposals is the strengthening of our marketing efforts for both the new package options and to new members. I am pleased to say that both are gathering momentum, and we are in the process of establishing the President’s Circle and have seen substantial interest in the new small company package.

Your thoughts and advice are always welcome. If you would share them with me, please write to:

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.
The ACCJ aspires to replicate the WIB success by creating business summits for each of the other pillars.