The ACCJ – an 800 pound gorilla screwing it up for Americans in Japan.

[Note to regulars: there are two posts today, one is carrying a 6/13 date.]

In my recent discussions of puffed-up Japan-side internet businesses, I didn’t mean to ignore the role that the American Chamber of Commerce – Japan plays in making it difficult for the everyday American expat. I know I have mentioned ACCJ from time to time, but haven’t had the opportunity to put something together for you.

I found this interesting piece by Sam Kidder, the Executive Director of the ACCJ, that says a lot for me:

(Click to enlarge)

Notice some key points –

1) The “A” in ACCJ doesn’t really stand for American at all. It’s more like the Anybody Chamber of Commerce – Japan. This says a lot, if you are an American.

2) The ACCJ lobbies the U.S. Embassy as if it is one of us. But in fact, Sam Kidder clearly states that the policies it decides to advocate for are these amorphous “global” ( * ) or “best in class” ones. So ACCJ really just advocates for ACCJ, not for American business interests, and certainly NOT for everyday Americans in Japan. We really don’t know who ACCJ is advocating for, unless we know who is who within it.

3) The strategy that the ACCJ takes is to leverage (Mr. Kidder calls it a “multiplier effect”) the whole membership for the benefit of what one particular business interest within ACCJ wants. So we see a business puffery similar to what I was talking about just last week. Only here, foreign and anti-American business interests can come into an organization–with “American” as the first word in its name!–and argue against American interests. If not even something bad like that, it can simply divert resources away from advocating American interests. I think that alone would be bad enough, for something with “American” as the first word in its name.

4) What Sam Kidder says goes to what I have been saying about Americans who make their friends and connections in Tokyo, and then forget where they came from. This is not to say that Sam Kidder, who seems like a nice enough person, has done that, but rather that the focus of ACCJ comes across, rather explicitly, as doing that sort of thing. And none of the American business people there have really spoken out against it, have they?

( * ) – nothing saying that “global” can’t mean an American business expansionary policy, but that’s not the sense I get.

[More in a bit.]

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