Amidst last year’s unprecedented heat, I found myself counting October as a summer month. This summer differed remarkably from the last two, marked by my frequent visits to Osaka/Kansai within a span of three months.

Noriko with Team CCCJ students at Kwansei Gakuin University.

In August, Vice Chair Annamarie Sasagawa extended an invitation for me to observe Kwansei Gakuin University’s Global Career Seminar in Japan (GCSJ) presentations. Collaborating with four Canadian universities as part of KGU’s Cross-Cultural College, the seminar spans two weeks, split between Japan and Canada. This platform delves into issues that participating private sectors and public organisations face, encouraging innovative solutions. It culminates in a competition where mixed teams from Japan and Canada present their solutions to assigned companies, vying for the title of best team. 

Witnessing Team CCCJ’s evolution over this period was inspiring. Their initial presentation on “Revitalizing the CCCJ Website” was impressive. It was their refined, practical solutions, though—crafted within a week and incorporating feedback—that left me deeply moved.

This year, six organizations were part of GCSJ. Each team approached their “client” with fresh perspectives, offering promising glimpses into the future of Canada-Japan business and cultural relations through their visionary ideas and leadership.

On October 28, the CCCJ, alongside chambers of commerce from other G7 nations (ACCJ, AHK, BCCJ, CCIFJ, ICCJ, EBC), received an exclusive invitation to a side event for the G7 Trade Ministers Meeting in Osaka-Sakai. Hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry at the Osaka International Convention Center, this event preceded the gathering of G7 trade ministers. 

with the G7 Nations Chamber of Commerce in Japan with representatives from METI and Osaka business organizations

The side event provided updates from various governmental and organizational bodies, highlighting Osaka’s robust support for start-ups and the upcoming EXPO 2025 Osaka, Kansai. Representatives from each G7 chamber outlined their expectations for the region, emphasizing potential collaborations. CCCJ Chair Marc Bolduc underscored opportunities for Canadian businesses in Japan. 

Adjacent to the conference room, an exhibition hall showcased specialties from the southern part of Osaka, where I indulged in a bowl of matcha at the City of Sakai booth. It was a delightful callback to my past experience learning the tea ceremony. I was unaware until then, by the way, that iconic tea master Sen no Rikyu hailed from Sakai.

This series of engagements and interactions has painted a vibrant picture of burgeoning collaborations and promising prospects, reinforcing the optimism for the future of global partnerships and cultural exchanges between Canada and Japan, especially with Osaka/Kansai.