The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

I am honored to serve once again this year as President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). Building on our major accomplishments of last year, I look forward to working with both new and incumbent members of the Board of Governors, and with all our members, to seize opportunities and meet the new challenges we will face in 2017.

Among those challenges will clearly be changes in US government policy on a variety of issues affecting member interests. The US president-elect and his senior appointees have very clearly signaled that the incoming administration will adopt new approaches to trade relations with economic partners. At the same time, early indications—including those received during our DC Doorknock in November—are that the new administration intends that relations with key partners and allies remain strong and new initiatives will be undertaken to promote free and fair trade, and to bolster US economic growth.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government and private sector leaders have been proactively reaching out to the new US leadership, even as they move ahead on Japan’s own structural reforms—including passage of reforms predicated on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). On balance, the outlook for US business in Japan in 2017 remains positive.

In 2017, effective advocacy will clearly be one of our main priorities. Your Chamber will be working to ensure the concerns of our members are taken fully into account in both Washington and Tokyo. Even though we can no longer count on early realization of the TPP, there are many beneficial provisions in that agreement. As the new administration builds out its trade policy, we will be urging that it find ways to secure those benefits for US businesses operating in Japan as well as to address other challenges US businesses face here. We will also continue encouraging the Japanese government to implement—as rapidly and thoroughly as possible—the full range of structural reforms already proposed by the government, as well as initiatives we believe would further enhance the prospects for increased growth in Japan.

I will be aiming to further strengthen the value of Chamber membership in other areas. Now that our new website has been launched, we have a stronger platform for growing the Chamber’s digital presence. The ACCJ website will become the home for exciting new initiatives such as the Director Database, the Women in Business Resource Library, and the Education Task Force Internship Program. We will also create space to better showcase the achievements of our members.

I also look to ensure the Chamber is more fully meeting the increasingly diverse needs of our growing membership. I plan to propose several new task forces and a new membership survey system to better assess the needs of all members. We should further strengthen support and services for our Japanese members. Additionally, we must continue advancing towards our goal of having women in at least 30 percent of our leadership positions by 2020. As more than half of those elected to join our Board this year were women, I am happy to report that we are well on our way to achieving that goal.

The continued leadership, activism, and engagement of ACCJ members will remain the key to achieving our objectives. I look forward to working with all of you to successfully meet the challenges of this new year.

2016 ACCJ Chubu Women in Business Summit: A Student’s Perspective

Ami Koketsu, a student at Aichi Shukutoku University, shares her experience at the ACCJ–Chubu Women in Business Summit.

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Christopher J. LaFleur is ACCJ President