The annual general meeting of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) on 20 April marks the end of the 2016/17 chamber year. Under BCCJ governance procedures, the Executive Committee (Excom) will step down and be replaced by a new Excom of 15 individuals elected by BCCJ members.
My final task as chairman of the 2016/17 Excom will be to present to members my report on the performance of the chamber over the past year. In doing so, I will avoid the temptation to catalogue the many and varied activities of the past 12 months.
Instead, I will offer my assessment of whether the chamber has fulfilled its fundamental purpose—of bringing to our members the people who matter. In the process, I will highlight the achievements of the executive directors and their dedicated team who have worked tirelessly this year with government and business to provide member firms and individuals with a high-quality, business-focused event and media platform.
Through their efforts, many BCCJ members have found it easier to connect with a greater number of important stakeholders, including potential customers, peers, enthusiasts, partners, advisors and thought leaders. As a result, I firmly believe the chamber has made progress towards its goals of strengthening business ties between the UK and Japan, and promoting and supporting the business interests of its members.
On a practical level, members have access to a wealth of information through the BCCJ website on doing business in Japan, in particular through links to the online platform of partner organisation Export to Japan. The calendar of high-quality BCCJ events, however, continues to be the cornerstone of our offering. This was exemplified in April when hosting Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (page 46), which provided members with an exclusive opportunity to hear directly from one of Japan’s most dynamic and charismatic leaders.
But statistics on information output and number of events can only provide a partial measure of progress in achieving the goals above. A strong and dynamic chamber relies on the active contribution of its members, and I am delighted at the increase we have seen over the past year in levels of participation, particularly in terms of event sponsors, panellists and participants.
Blessed with host country cooperation, British chambers of commerce throughout the world have a vital role to play in the promotion of mutual prosperity, as well as an openness to transparency, diversity and good governance in business. The importance to the UK of its relationship with Japan is second to none, and I am convinced that the BCCJ will continue to play a valuable role in promoting this most important of bilateral relationships.
The nominees for the 2017/18 Excom bring with them a huge amount of energy, talent and experience, so I am confident they will amplify the tremendous work of the BCCJ’s executive team. The future for UK–Japan relations is bright, and the role of the BCCJ more important than ever. It has been a privilege to serve chamber members over the past year, and I look forward to your continued success in the year ahead.