2010 ended up fine. We had more Corporate Sustaining Members at the end of the year than at the beginning. Congratulations to AstraZeneca, Baker & MacKenzie, Chartis Companies in Japan and Nippon Becton Dickinson for making this happen. And with Boeing upgrading to Corporate Sustaining Member status as of January 1, 2011, we can be sure the new year is off to a good start. And it’s not too late for those others of you out there who want all the glamour that comes with being an ACCJ CSM to upgrade your membership. For the year the total number of paying members was up one percent, not much, but a hopeful sign that we are coming out of a bad economy. Strong performance in membership recruitment in Chubu and Kansai and the increase in the number of CSM additional members were major factors. Somewhat worrying, but a trend we hope we can reverse in 2011, is a continued decline in the number of Company Memberships. The annual Charity Ball in Tokyo had more attendees than in 2009 and raised more for charity. Ads for our Membership Directory are also running well ahead of next year. So we can see a number of trends that look good for a positive start for 2011.
One trend that we have seen developing over the past few months, and that we hope will accelerate during 2011, is renewed energy in the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship. The ACCJ will be supporting new policy initiatives launched by President Obama and Prime Minister Kan at APEC in November. In addition to the Energy-Smart Communities Initiative and the U.S.-Japan Clean Energy Policy Dialogue, ACCJ’s committees will be hard at work with our Embassy colleagues on the U.S.-Japan Economic Harmonization Initiative, the Dialogue to Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation and the Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy.
Beyond government to government engagement, we are seeing a move by a number of institutions in Japan and America to re-energize our bilateral ties. We are all aware of some of the negative indicators: fewer Japanese students studying in the United States, the decline of think tank focus on Japan, and the sharp decline of American elected officials who visit Japan. The Japan Center for International Exchange headed by ACCJ 2009 Person of the Year Tadashi Yamamoto will be working hard to reinvigorate the U.S.-Japan policy dialogue. My conversations with Japanese business association and media leaders made it clear that there are many similarly motivated initiatives underway. The external political environment during the past few months certainly has provided momentum to these efforts. The ACCJ will be a cheerleader for all these efforts. More importantly we will have to step up as one of the key players in the effort to convince and remind American leaders, from Washington to the corporate boardroom, that Ambassador Mansfield’s old saw still holds true: the Japanese and American bilateral relationship is “the most important bilateral relationship in the world bar none.”