New Start

Neil van Wouw, chairman, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan

I feel both honoured and lucky to be stepping into the role of chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) at this time. Honoured because it is a privilege to be a part of the history of the longest-serving Canadian chamber of commerce in Asia, and lucky because this is a great time — in this year of celebration and opportunity — to be a Canadian in Japan.

As Canada marks 150 years, the CCCJ has already started celebrating, with two great events in our Canada 150 Speaker Series: a great talk by Benjamin Smith, president of Air Canada; and a gender diversity roundtable led by Lise Thériault, deputy premier of Québec.

But there’s much more to come, including a great Canada Day celebration with the Embassy of Canada to Japan, and the CCCJ’s signature event — the Maple Leaf Gala — on September 29.

Turning to our membership, the CCCJ’s cultural ambassador, Katsura Sunshine, will be joining us at the embassy on June 30, before hosting a Canada Day party that evening at the Roppongi Hills Club.

And of course, CCCJ member Nick Szasz, owner and founder of Fukuoka Now, a bilingual lifestyle magazine, will be putting on what has become Japan’s biggest annual Canada Day event in Fukuoka.

This brings me to opportunity.

Despite the usual challenges that Canada and Japan face domestically and globally, it seems that the twists and turns of business, politics and current events serve to increase the opportunities for deeper bilateral ties.

Our economies are so complementary that the inevitability of a bilateral trade agreement in one form or another just continues to build.

And like Katsura and Szasz above, there is a growing pool of Canadians and Japanese who count their cross-cultural experience not only in months and years but, in many cases, decades. The CCCJ is the place where you will find more of those people than anywhere else.

We are those people. We are the front line of the Japan–Canada relationship. Forging new, and strengthening existing, business ties, we offer the business point of view for bilateral policies and, more important, build people-to-people connections.

Lets celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial, as well as this great opportunity to be part of the strengthening and deepening of ties between Canada and Japan.

Canada’s priorities in Japan’s Canadian business community.

The CCCJ has feted this Canada Day with Canada 150 Speaker Series events, as well as by attending the annual Canada–Japan Joint Chamber Council in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, aimed at continuing our advocacy push for a friendlier bilateral trade environment.

The CCCJ is collaborating with the Embassy of Canada to Japan to host the official Canada Day Celebration on June 30, while the Maple Leaf Gala in fall will be another focal point of the celebrations.

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