"Ambassador Hagerty, Chairman Kobayashi, fellow ACCJ members, and distinguished guests and friends of the ACCJ: It is an honor to welcome everyone to the ACCJ’s 2018 Shinnenkai. It is a pleasure to see so many of you here tonight.
Let me start by thanking Christopher LaFleur for his leadership as ACCJ president over the past two years. He has been a strong advocate for US companies in Japan and worked tirelessly to enhance US-Japan relations. I am honored to succeed him as President and I look forward to his continued counsel as he assumes the role of ACCJ Chairman.
It is a particular honor to be elected as President in the ACCJ’s 70th anniversary year. For 70 years, the ACCJ has worked to develop commercial ties between the US and Japan, and improve the international business environment here. All that the ACCJ has been able to accomplish is due to the tremendous efforts of its members and to the strong partnerships we have developed with our Japanese counterparts.
In the spirit of Shinnenkai, this is a time to celebrate – to look back and consider how far we have come. It’s also a time to reflect on what we need to do to ensure the ACCJ continues to grow and prosper over the next 70 years.
Over the last several years, ACCJ membership has grown and become more diverse. Overall membership is at a record high. We also have a record number of Corporate Sustaining Members. We have more small company members, more Japanese members, more women and more young professionals. This is great news. Now we need to upgrade our capabilities to deliver value to all members to ensure the Chamber is well positioned for long-term growth.
The business environment in Japan is also changing: In an aging society, people are concerned about financial security and health and wellness; They are concerned about national security in the face of threats to regional stability; There is growing concern among individuals and companies about data security and keeping up with technological innovation; and there are concerns about a lack of diversity and opportunity in Japan’s working culture. Labor market reform and female empowerment are two of the key issues here.
These changes and concerns also represent opportunities. With the right policies, Japan can create a more vibrant and productive society. These changes are also significant commercial opportunities for U.S. companies of all sizes, and across all sectors.
The ACCJ is well-placed to promote the leadership position of American companies in providing solutions in areas critical to unlocking Japan’s growth potential -- from healthcare to technology, and from defense to key service sectors.
The ACCJ and its diverse members also continue to demonstrate the leadership of US companies in work-style reform. Enhancing the productivity of Japan’s economy and its workforce would benefit all of us, and Japan as a whole. This is an area where the Chamber has much to offer.
Our companies are a cornerstone of the U.S.-Japan relationship. We bring investment, know-how, and tens of thousands of jobs to Japan. We also support the financial success of our companies back in the U.S., spurring jobs and investment in the U.S. economy.
The relationship between the US and Japan is more important than ever. Now is an opportunity to move forward to reaffirm our common interests and strengthen our enduring partnership. Critical to our ability to do this is the many Japanese stakeholders with whom we have developed strong partnerships over the years. Your willingness to work with the ACCJ to strengthen the economic partnership is deeply appreciated and I look forward to furthering our efforts in 2018.
As a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company for which Japan and the US are the two largest markets, I hope to do my part this year to reinforce the visibility and impact of the ACCJ on both sides of the Pacific. Along with my colleagues on the Board of Governors, we will represent the varied interests of all American businesses in the bilateral economic relationship.
Once again, it is an honor to be elected ACCJ president to represent the US business community in Japan. The ACCJ, and its members, remain committed to Japan. I look forward to working with all of you to further the Chamber’s mission and lay the foundation for success for our next 70 years.
On behalf of the ACCJ, I wish you all a very prosperous and peaceful 2018.