We are headed into a busy fall as we prepare for an exciting run-up to the year-end, including the celebration of the Chamber’s 70th anniversary on October 16.
It was timely that over the summer, ACCJ staff discovered in office records a copy of a speech by our founding President, Dennis McEvoy, given on August 31, 1948, prior to the opening of the Chamber’s formal business. In the speech, McEvoy recounts his first meeting with General Douglas MacArthur, “who welcomed most enthusiastically the appearance of our organization and extends to it his approbation and support . . . as the body and spirit of American business in Japan.”
The speech outlines several key lessons that are still applicable today. In it, McEvoy recounts the importance MacArthur placed on the Chamber’s mission of promoting the healthy development of the economic relationship between the United States of America and Japan, and the creation of durable commercial ties as the base for strengthening international relations. We know now how prescient MacArthur was in directing Japan’s recovery at that time, and the wisdom in his words reverberates nearly three quarters of a century later.
But as we play our roles in the Chamber, McEvoy reminded us to keep this higher goal firmly in our minds, reaffirming to MacArthur, “we would subordinate our ambitions as business men to the greater call of our primary duties as citizens of the United States” and, “that it was not the intention of this Chamber to be involved in squabbles, bickerings or quarrels and there exists no reason to suppose that we will ever engage in them.”
Concluding his address, McEvoy recognized how well positioned the Chamber would prove to be in fulfilling a core mission between the United States and Japan, saying, “if we carry out the plans of these committees the formation of this Chamber will be fully justified and we will be an active, powerful force for the good.”
We too have important matters in our time to move forwards. Our challenge as members is our obligation to carry forward this vision and the high expectations set by MacArthur. In that regard, over the coming week, I will be sharing important updates with you via e-mail and social media on key initiatives that will help set us on course for the next 70 years.
Sachin N. Shah
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan