Keep Calm and Carry on
Readers of the ACCJ Journal may believe the magazine changes its editor more often than Japan changes its prime minister, but that’s not true. It depends on the time frame you look at.
Anyway … here I am, your handsome, charming and talented host, with many years of writing, editing and publishing (and other) experience under my belt as a result of 23 years of life and work in exotic Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kyoto and now, rural Yokosuka (small fishing and farming village, elderly neighbors, fresh vegetables, three-season view of Mount Fuji … well, you know the rest).
As of this writing (some days in advance of publication, as is usual for print magazines), Chinese missiles are not raining down, nor are my Self-Defense Forces-employed neighbors engaging in unusual activity, so I will write on in the assumption the militaristic Chinese bluster that has the Japanese media (and to my surprise several weeks ago, The Economist) in a tizzy about the possibility of war is just that – bluster – allowing us to focus on more important things.
Interest and exchange rates, the demographic inevitabilities of an aging society, etc., and more important, how we as tiny cogs in the geopolitical machine navigate the shark-infested waters of life and career.
You will have noticed U.S. Ambassador Roos and his wife Susan on the cover of this issue. This year the ACCJ board decided to for the first time honor two people with its Person of the Year award.
In a remarkable coincidence, the recipients share the same surname, and are well known to each other, having been married for 31 years. That said, the ACCJ Board made clear in its award that the Rooses had each earned the honor in their own right, and that “it is purely coincidence that they’re married.”
The ambassador’s service in Japan has of course been well documented, and a result of his leadership following the events of March 11, 2011, as well as travels that have taken him to all 47 prefectures (my Japanese friends wonder how many prime ministers have managed the same), he is widely liked and his work appreciated.
But while an ambassador is the point man (or woman) for bilateral relations, fewer traditionally “substantive” activities have been expected of an ambassador’s spouse. Susan Roos is from a different generation, of course, and arrived in Japan an accomplished labor lawyer who had been the managing partner at her law firm in California.
Much of her legal career has been focused on employment and labor issues, and while she has been active in a number of different areas during her time in Japan, the question of women’s participation in the workplace has remained a priority for her. Her public advocacy of women’s rights has been appreciated by Japanese women, and by right-thinking (not rightist!) businesspeople of both genders.
In October 2011, citing his extraordinary leadership and innovative management as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan before and after March 11, the Department of State awarded Ambassador Roos the prestigious Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service. The award honors a non-career ambassador who has made “a significant impact on bilateral or multilateral relations and has done so in a manner that best reflects the foreign service culture of uncommon commitment in carrying out United States foreign policy through proactive diplomacy.”
Very likely, the ambassador and Ms. Roos will return to their lives and careers in California at some point this year. When we spoke with him and Ms. Roos for our cover story, the ambassador said, “It has been the honor and the privilege of my life to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, with which the United States has such a strong and important relationship, and to get to know individually so many wonderful people from all walks of life.” Echoing her husband’s sentiments, Ms. Roos said, “Moving to Japan has been a life-changing experience for me. A part of my heart will always be with Japan.”
Elsewhere in this issue, we write about Danish firm Tiger Copenhagen, which made Osaka its entry point to Japan, and was rewarded by selling out its entire retail stock within days. We spoke with officials from Okinawa and Yokohama about how they try to attract foreign direct investment, and Dr. Greg Story, a regular in these pages, wonders how good your people skills are.
Our columnists are in good form this month, and over the next few months I plan to add more voices to those pages. Finally, in his message on the next page, ACCJ President Larry Bates wants to get you involved in the chamber’s social media network, and ACCJ Executive Director Sam Kidder offers motivational wisdom from Baron Pierre de Coubertin: citius, altius, fortius!
I inherited the content plan for this issue of the Journal; from April you will have only me to blame. I have some exciting stories planned for the next few months, and I hope you will agree. Drop me a line any time with comments, suggestions and criticisms.