Strength in a Storm

Greetings, and welcome to that wonderful place in space and time known as autumn in Japan. The cool breeze, that angle of light around 4 p.m. — the office looks forward to all of this and more every year, and hopes that you, too, are enjoying this most excellent time of year.

There has been much activity in the office since the last issue of The Canadian, from Gala planning to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership-related events to new committee formation and more. And with a steady flow of new members coming in, all of this activity is not without import — the chamber’s building momentum in the business community and beyond.

Matt Ketchum, Executive Director
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan

Going Beyond

And that beyond is something we’ve been pondering lately. As in, how can we go beyond the normal call of business to contribute to the world around us? It’s a big, tough question, but we were recently given a great opportunity to see what potential solutions could look like when the Canada vs. Namibia 2019 Rugby World Cup game, way up north in Iwate Prefecture’s Kamaishi, was cancelled.

The office was very excited for this particular game, as we have conducted many activities in the region over the years, including marathons, internships, and overnights. In similar fashion, we saw a great opportunity to support Kamaishi by participating in related festivities, and planned a multi-day CSR package around the game involving barbecues, chartered buses and glamping.

For 14 chamber members who live scattered across the greater Tokyo area, and whose busy schedules varied drastically, organizing this wasn’t easy. But, by golly, we managed to get every last piece in place with the help of our members, particularly Parker Allen of PR company Parthenon Japan, locking in a weekend of revelry and solidarity with the people of Kamaishi … or so we thought.

Typhoon Hagibis had other plans. First our accommodations were cancelled. Then it looked like trains would stop running, forcing us to refund Shinkansen tickets. Then we had to cancel our bus reservation. And finally, at 6 a.m. on Sunday, October 13, not six hours before kickoff, the Canada vs. Namibia game itself was cancelled.

This, on top of the typhoon, was a devastating blow. But there was a silver lining: when the game was cancelled, Canada Rugby and some CCCJ members were already there, ready to pull on some boots, grab some shovels and assist the local community with cleanup (page 26).

Of course, it is a shame that the match, and the preceding years of preparation and untold yen spent on it, were all for naught at the hands of Mother Nature. But the humanity displayed is, for myself anyway, a stark reminder of what all of this business we busy ourselves with can be about. Namely — doing what you can, when you can, with who you have — to bring about a positive change in your surroundings.

Call it charity, call it CSR, call it whatever you like — some very noble things were done up there, which we can all be proud of. And let’s not forget the significant press exposure this provided Canada Rugby and Canada with. It looked really good.

The chamber’s building momentum in the business community and beyond.

What’s New

Which brings me back to the most recent developments in the chamber. The fol­low­ing are some of the most exciting ones. Governor and Principal of Bunka Suginami Canadian International High School Riyo Whitney is heading up a mentorship pro­gram in which CCCJ members engage with soon-to-be sec­ondary school graduates. Rob Fuller, another governor working with asset man­age­ment and construction consultancy Currie & Brown, is currently exploring further CSR initiatives in Tohoku to which his company can contribute. Individual member Joey Wu is in the process of spinning up a Wellness Committee, fully stocked with yoga classes and health-focused dinner nights, for members to experience and take back what they learn to their workplaces. The storied Tad Furuta, along with Christian Howes and Paddy Wilson, passionately lead the Team Canada Committee, which hosts public courses for those interested in sports and the physical and community benefits one gains from team activities.

The list goes on and on, but the point is clear: there is much to gain by focusing on your official position, but so much more to gain by using your skills and experience to benefit others.

If you’re interested in learning more about current opportunities to contribute to our initiatives, or have ideas of your own, we welcome that with arms wide open.


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