It’s a great honor to be chosen as your chair. The CCCJ has become my second family in Japan; I’ve been involved with the Chamber for many years, serving on the board (2011-15 and 2020-23), including a term as vice chair (2012-14). I’ve been proud to see the Chamber grow under the leadership of past chairs Wilf Wakely, Neil Van Wouw and David Anderson.
As the Chamber’s first Quebecois chair, I want to set a new course for us—putting a renewed emphasis on Commerce (with a capital C)—while staying rooted in our past accomplishments. Our mission will focus on enabling members to do more business between our two countries, with an accent on innovation, sustainability and diversity.
This is vital because Canada and Japan’s regional business and political relationships are flourishing. We have two great platforms that will solidify our relationship bilaterally and expand our sphere of influence. The CPTPP, for example, will extend our commercial activities in the region by removing trade obstacles and enhancing opportunities for more collaboration on trade/investments. Canada’s new Indo-Pacific strategy will add more political fiber to this potent regional alliance.
As an example of this deepening relationship, I’m pleased to hear that Team Canada, a Canadian government initiative, will be returning to promote Canadian trade and investments this fall. I remember attending the first mission to Japan in 1999 and feeling the positive energy that these events bring to the business community. Especially for Canada, given the size of our neighbor to the south, it’s essential to wave the flag frequently and remind Japan and nations elsewhere of the kinds of innovation, research and value-added trade we can contribute to the world. I’m also looking forward to greeting the larger business community in Tokyo on your behalf.
This year marks the return of the Maple Leaf Gala after a three-year break—a wonderful opportunity to dress up in our finest and celebrate the accomplishments of our beloved Canada-Japan business community. Our 2023 event will be at the beautifully rejuvenated Palace Hotel. I want our business community to support this flagship event wholeheartedly.
After the pandemic, members really enjoyed getting back to in-person networking. I’d like members to capitalize on the opportunity to present about their business in Japan to other members. The floor will be open for that, so please contact the CCCJ office if you’re interested in doing so. I’d also like to see more breakfast/luncheons with leaders from our business community looking for a platform to present on their activities between Canada and Japan as well.
Looking ahead to 2024, we will collaborate with various Chamber members and the Honorary Board of Advisors (HBA) to put on a revamped Canada-Japan Energy event that will focus on our energy exports to Japan and the greener technologies helping to lighten our carbon footprint and create a carbon-neutral world.
Joining our HBA this year is Kazuhiko Toyama, who has strong family roots in British Colombia and a very active career in the consulting industry, with conduits to Japan’s political decision-makers. I’m certain we will find the HBA generating some great ideas under the continued leadership of former ambassador Sadaaki Numata. Please reach out to the HBA—they’re a priceless Chamber resource for anyone looking to better understand the inner workings of corporate and political Japan.
Fall will be a busy season, and I hope to see you soon at an event. I also look forward to furthering trade and investment relations between Canada and Japan with the support of our Vice Chair Annamarie Sasagawa, our board of Governors, our Honorary Board of Advisors our Executive Director Noriko Ishida and our office staff.
I’m excited to lead our Chamber and believe we can do great things together. I haven’t seen this much potential in Canada-Japan business relations for many years, and I want to ask for your help in turning our practical dreams into reality.