While the AGM might not be the most exciting event on the calendar of any organisation, it is one of the most important, so thank you all for being here tonight. I would also like to extend thanks to the broader membership and friends of the Chamber for the ongoing support that has been afforded to me and the Executive Council.
Each year, at the time of the AGM, when I look back at the year previous, I am reminded of how much we have done, and also how much fun we have had!
In 2015, the Chamber's priorities included:
- Facilitating business and information exchange between Japan, Australia and New Zealand through a range of events including the SME Support Event Series, networking events, panel discussions and information seminars;
- Making a meaningful contribution to the annual conferences held by the Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee (AJBCC) and the Japan New Zealand Business Council (JNZBC); and
- Reviewing our committees and programs to offer members more and better opportunities to share their expertise with other business people.
Some personal highlights included the Tohoku weekend – thank you Tim Barnstable for leading that and for your tireless other work as Chair of the Food and Agriculture Committee, the Waratahs Street Rugby event and reception – thank you Israel Folau, and Julie Bishop’s speech on Australia’s foreign policy – thank you Minister for being such a good sport when I gave you the Dockers scarf – not only did that see #scarfgate trend on Twitter, it made me a local hero in Fremantle.
Other event highlights in the past year include:
September 2015: Gourmet Food and Wine Garden Party
This was the largest Gourmet Food and Wine Garden party to date. We secured participation from 21 Australian and New Zealand food and beverage businesses as exhibitors (more than double the scale of previous years). With over 350 guests in attendance we had a very good turn out from VIPs and others we had targeted from the Japanese food and beverage industry. This, I think, increased the value of participation from the exhibitors’ and attendees’ point of view.
December 2015: Reception for Australian Prime Minister, co-hosted with Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry
We worked closely with the TCCI, the Australian Embassy and the Prime Minister’s team to deliver a professional event that was highly regarded by ANZCCJ members.
January 2016: ANZCCJ Shinnenkai and launch of the Sports for Business Committee
The Chamber kicked off 2016 by welcoming around 200 of our Members and friends at our Shinnenkai here at the Australian Embassy. The event boasted a stellar rugby panel and attracted key business figures and 16 members of the Japanese Parliament including special guest Defense Minister, Mr Nakatani.
February 2016: Breakfast with Australian Foreign Minister
Australia’s Foreign Minister The Hon Julie Bishop MP delivered a fantastic speech at a breakfast event attended by 100 senior executives from the ANZCCJ and JABCC/JCCI.
This year also marked the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. At the Chamber we have been honoured to support two organisations that continue to play vital roles in facilitating rebuilding activities in Tohoku: Support our Kids (SOK) and O.G.A. for Aid. I am pleased to announce that we conducted two very successful Tohoku Volunteer Weekends in this past year and made a charity donation of around 350,000 yen to SOK.
We further strengthened our working relationship with the Japan and Tokyo Chambers of Commerce and Industry (TCCI/JCCI), and the Young Entrepreneurs Group of the JCCI through collaboration on joint events such as the Prime Minister’s welcome reception in December, the Gourmet Food and Wine Garden Party in September, the International Business Exchange Meeting in October, and the ongoing SME Support Program event series.
We have also established a solid working relationship with sporting associations such as the Australian Rugby Foundation, Street Rugby Alliance and individual sporting teams which has served to support the objectives of the Sports for Business Committee and attracted new membership. Special thanks to Co-Chairs of that committee - Andrew Gauci and Sally Townsend - for all your efforts getting this new committee established.
Our sponsors have helped to raise the profile of Australian and New Zealand corporate capabilities by giving us access to speakers and executives visiting Japan. Thank you in particular to ANZ, Ashurst, Treasury Wine Estates, Macquarie and the Australian and New Zealand Embassies.
Special thanks to the Executive Council members who have recently left Japan. Peter Davis, Craig Saphin and Jason Reeves made an incredible contribution to the Chamber and are dearly missed. I would also like to acknowledge the great contribution made to the Chamber by our Ex Officio members Clare Walsh, Peter Kell and Julianne Merrimen.
A big thank you must go out to Ambassador Bruce Miller and former Ambassador Mark Sinclair, our Vice Chair, Ed Cole and our Treasurer, Andrew Peyton. Both Ed and Andrew are committed supporters of the Chamber and personal thanks from me for your friendship. To all current members of the Executive Council, thank you for being such great members of the team.
I would also like to acknowledge a long-term friend of the Chamber, Marcus Yip, who passed away in March this year.
Our Executive Director, Cristina Merino is an absolute trooper and I am sure I speak for everyone in saying a giant domo arigato for everything you do. We have welcomed Hikaru Hashimoto as our Operations Manager and Hikaru is a great support to Cristina and myself. Many of you will have come in contact with our amazing interns and I would like to note the fantastic contribution made by them to the Secretariat. Otsukaresama to all those who help us at the Secretariat.
There is a lot of love in the room, as the expression goes and I know the Chamber will continue to thrive. Our membership has continued to work together with the Secretariat to develop a powerful and renewed presence in the business community in Japan.
Finally, I wish to reassure you that the Executive Council is committed to creating new value for our Membership, our stakeholders and the business community in general. We truly appreciate the support and continued engagement of our members and welcome any feedback you may have.
Chair of ANZCCJ