Executive Director September 2018

Competitive edge

How rugby and same-sex marriages can support Japan’s globalisation

We are truly delighted to be coopera­ting with other international chambers of commerce in Japan on two new exciting initiatives, both of which were launched on the evening of 19 September, after many weeks and months of strategising, planning and nemawashi.

Rugby Alliance
As most readers know, the Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC) will be held in Japan next year from 20 September to 2 November. The tournament will involve 20 international teams, 48 matches and 12 host cities.

After staging a variety of separate RWC-related events, eight international chambers of commerce have successfully formed a coalition, the Rugby Alliance. Our mission is to support Japan’s delivery of the Rugby World Cup 2019, fostering a legacy of more inclusive communities and embracing opportunities for international business and exchange.

The Rugby Alliance was announced formally to more than 300 guests at our Rugby World Cup 2019—One Year to Go event on 19 September at Happo-en.

Co-hosting the exciting occasion was the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the chambers of commerce of Australia and New Zealand, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Ireland and South Africa participating. The chambers of commerce of RWC host cities also took part, using the event to promote their travel and tourism sectors, as well as food and beverage attractions.

Also attending were senior representatives from rugby organising bodies in Japan and special guests from governing body World Rugby, including Chairman Bill Beaumont CBE DL. We also heard from Japan wheelchair rugby player and bronze medallist Hiroyuki Misaka, and former Sakura Sevens player Aya Nakajima.

The event was a key moment in time for communi­ties and businesses—both Japanese and foreign—to celebrate the potential of the RWC as a once-in-a-generation opportunity and an agent for societal innovation.

Viewpoint: Marriage Equality
Along with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, we are proud to have announced a position paper on the extension of freedom of marriage to same-sex couples at the Lawyers for LGBT & Allies Network gala at the Akasaka Prince Hotel.

With the moral case a given, we believe that legalising same-sex marriage could benefit member firms and individuals across our chambers, as well as the Japanese economy as a whole.

The current legal landscape facing LGBT couples can disadvantage firms doing business in Japan. It can make recruitment difficult. For example, talented employees are discouraged from relocating to a country that does not recognise same-sex marriage, and where they may face issues in obtaining visas for their partners.

Such disparity can make Japan a less attractive option for LGBT couples compared with other developed countries vying for the same talent. It is well documented that the country is facing a growing labour shortage, which is impeding economic growth. Japanese firms simply cannot afford to lose in the inter­national competition for human resources.

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Para­lympic Games approaching and Japan finding itself in the global spotlight, it is important that we demonstrate our commitment to progressive ideals, as well as showcase the country’s overall competitiveness.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing, both within Japan and internationally. The BCCJ is proud to be part of this movement.

For more information on these joint chamber projects, visit www.bccjapan.com