Meet James Hedden, president of Tokai Japan Canada Society for business and pleasure
PHOTO: MASSAKI MIYAMURA DI NAPOLI OF PRO MEDIA JAPAN
The Tokai Japan Canada Society (TJCS) is an organization dedicated to promoting the development of social, cultural and commercial relations between Canada and Japan’s Tokai region, which includes Mie, Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures and the southern part of Gifu Prefecture.
To find out more about the organization, we spoke with TJCS President James Hedden, who explained what led to its inception, his personal connection to the society and the links between the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) and the TJCS.
What sparked the society’s launch?
The idea to form the TJCS was first put forward in February 2004 by a group of Canadians living in the Tokai region, and the Canadian consul at the time, Jeff Kucharski. Due to a lack of any association — such as a chamber of commerce or business networking group — for Canadians in the region, as well as the approaching EXPO 2005 in Aichi Prefecture, it was decided to launch the society.
Currently we have 15 corporate members and just over 80 individual members. Twenty-six per cent of our individual members are Canadian and 74 per cent are Japanese and people of other nationalities.
Thanks to our committees — business, social and culture — the TJCS is very active, as is clear from the number of events we generally host and activities we organize. Prior to Covid-19, monthly TGIF gatherings were organized at a number of local watering holes in Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures.
Under our Social Committee umbrella, several annual events were organized. They included ski trips; Canadian-style hanami; Canada Day BBQ celebrations at Canada House in Nagoya; an annual street hockey tournament held in Kariya in Aichi Prefecture, which in past years has drawn participants from its sister city, Mississauga, Ontario; as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner celebrations.
Events to introduce Japanese culture to both local expats and society members included jibiki ami (traditional fishing); visits to kabuki and rakugo performances; tea picking; and visits to local festivals.
As one of our roles is to support and promote the Canadian Consulate in Nagoya and its activities in the region, we generally cohost and support visiting speakers and government representatives, while taking advantage of related opportunities under the aegis of the Business Committee.
I would say the fact that it allows me to represent Canada, its heritage, culture, values and beliefs, as a very proud Canadian living in Japan. In addition, there is the reward of meeting and working with an array of people interested in Canada, as well as the opportunity to help people grow in their leadership roles and their personal development. Of course, at the top of the list is also raising a glass or pint from time to time and celebrating Canada.
Up until the beginning of 2020, the extent of the relationship and ties between the TJCS and the CCCJ took the form of reciprocal honorary membership. On rare occasions over the years, representatives of each society have had the pleasure of attending events in Nagoya and Tokyo. Beyond this, there have been no formal ties; or collaboration.
The strengthening of ties and possible collaboration both with the CCCJ and other Canadian societies across Japan was on the agenda for the TJCS this year, but for now, we wait.
I wish the governors and members the best of health, safety, business sustainability and prosperity during these extraordinary times. I look forward to connecting organizations and members, and would be very happy to welcome all CCCJ members to future TJCS events.