This has been a remarkable and memorable year for me, thanks to all of you! I have been honored to serve as your Chair of the Board for the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce in this 117th year.
At our 2016-2017 Inauguration event last July, Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley’s keynote remarks reminded us of how important Japan business relations are to Hawaii, how we are connected by culture and values, and that locally-based companies can do well, prosper, grow internationally in Japan and Asia if they understand the culture and look outward for growth. He also reminded us that when we all support two-way tourism it supports cultural understanding and helps both our economies–leading to deeper opportunities for business growth.
My year as your Chair was highlighted by visits to Hawaii by Japanese dignitaries, including Prime Minister Abe, prefectural offices and government leaders from Hiroshima, Fukui, Iwakuni, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, and other prefectures and cities in Japan. The Japanese government and business leaders see the HJCC as a leading organization for collaboration on business opportunities.
The HJCC is very proud of our President, Wayne Ishihara, who will receive an Imperial Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays (Kyokujitsu Sokosho) from His Majesty the Emperor Akihito of Japan. In Hawaii we call it the “KUNSHO”. The recognition award will be given to him at the Consul General’s residence in late June. The Honolulu Japanese Chamber created the platform for his involvement in furthering U.S. – Japan relations, thru his many years of volunteer support of the Chamber activities, and as President of the HJCC. Many thanks to past President Emeritus and HJCC member Ron Ushijima and Past Chair, Wayne Miyao who worked on the supporting documents and submitted them to Consul General Misawa. The recognition is so important that I received calls from Japanese business leaders who read the article in the Nikkei Shimbun and other newspapers in Japan.
This year the HJCC was pleased to announce the initial Hawaii-Hiroshima Emerging Business Leaders program will officially launch in November 2017 with a delegation of emerging business leaders from Hiroshima. In 2018 we look forward to sending a delegation of emerging business leaders to Japan as part of a program focused on Japanese style business. Many thanks to the initiatives of past Chair Tyler Tokioka, VP of Island Insurance, with ideas, advice and support from Colbert Matsumoto, Executive Chairman, Island Insurance and Duane Kurisu, Chariman, aio Group, our keynote speaker at our July 19, 2017 -2018 Inauguration. We hope that Chamber member companies will recommend candidates for this Emerging Leader program.
With the support of our incoming Chair, Brian Nishida, President of Step Stone Business Development, a Strategic Planning process was initiated last year which included a cross section of members and leaders representing diversity, demographics and vocations in the Chamber, as well as dual members from the Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce. In January 2017 your board voted to accept the 2020 Strategic Plan. Moving forward, all committee chairs are tasked with aligning programs and outreach with our plan. The direction is very positive and exciting and we look forward to its full execution under Brian’s leadership with the support of our board and committees.
A highlight of the year was our rejuvenated and re-worked New Year’s Celebration – the Shinnen Enkai. We included our Quad Chamber members of the Chinese, Korean, and Filipino Chamber of commerce in a song dual. The successful event was very creative, and embraced change.
A brilliant cast of HJCC members was selected for our kabuki play including our very own Honolulu Japan Consul General Misawa. I am sure it was his first time as a Kabuki actor! We really got to know Consul General Misawa more from his acting, and we thank him always for his very engaged support of all of our Chamber activities, by both he and his wife Yoko.
The HJCC’s sold-out signature events, from the Chopsticks and Wine to our 40th anniversary Samurai Classic Golf Tournament, are an indication of the planning and engagement of our committee chairs and members taking leadership responsibilities and volunteering to ensure the success of our programs.
The HJCC has continued to support programs specifically for our women business members under our Diversity Initiative, supported efforts to collaborate with the Quad Chambers, and offered programs to help business people in our Chamber gain access and connections to grow their business opportunities. The HJCC’s focus on “Members supporting Members” is what drives your Chamber and member business success.
If you have business associates that would be a good fit for the Chamber, please invite them to an event, or ask them to join. We will help you to make the process easy for them to become a member and get involved and engaged. Your Chamber needs your ongoing support to grow our membership so we can continue to be a strong and thriving organization in our business community.
Plan to attend the Inauguration and Generational Award Business Luncheon on July 19, 2017 at the Sheraton Waikiki. Seats are still available, but soon this will be another HJCC “Sold-Out” event. Lets all support Incoming Chair Brian Nishida as he leads your Chamber for 2017-2018.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge and thank the Executive Committee and Committee Chairs, Wayne and his amazing staff at the HJCC- Merilyn, Mina, and Mai, and my team at PacRim Marketing Group & PRTech, including our new owners in Tokyo, Vector Inc., and my wife Tamae and daughter Mari for their support of my involvement and engagement with the HJCC this year and this important role in our business community. MAHALO!
Chair of the Board
Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce – 2016–2017
President & CEO
PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. & PRTech, LLC.