Steven J. Archer
Dear Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia members,
The year past has been significant for the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia, in part because of our continued involvement with both Federal and Provincial Governments in building stronger Canada-Japan relationships.
It seems that I am in Japan every couple of months, but a highlight of one trip in particular this year was in May when I had the honour of joining the B.C. Premier’s Trade Mission. It was during this trip in Tokyo that on behalf of the Society, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ), represented by President Wilf Wakely. The Society has long had a close relationship with the CCCJ, due in no small part to the work that the late John Powles did with both organizations, which is why we called the Memorandum “The John Powles Alliance”.
This fall was also highlighted by two of our Society’s signature undertakings - the 37th annual joint Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia - Konwakai Golf Tournament and Dinner, organized by Past President Russell Mark and long-time executive member Hiroshi Yamamoto, and the Annual Fall Gala, organized by Executive Director Angela Hollinger and Events Committee Chair Bill McMichael. The dinner featured guests of honour The Honourable Pat Bell, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, and Deputy Minister Dave Byng. This was a singular opportunity for us to hear the B.C. Government’s perspective and an update on engaging Japan.
Our efforts in support of Canada’s trade-related agenda have also continued to be a focus for the Society. In May, Society executives were invited to brief Member of Parliament Don Davies, co-chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on International Trade with their views on international trade issues with respect to the anticipated Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiation. It was also in May that Vice President John Tak made a presentation to the Standing Committee on International Trade in Ottawa. In September, Vice President Tak also presented Canada-Japan trade perspectives as a guest speaker at a seminar on Leadership in the Context of Globalization, Vancouver – Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway. I would like to thank John and the ad hoc committee for their work in helping to assure that the Society’s interests are represented as part of the Government-to-Government bilateral processes.
The Canada-Japan Society, together with our partner the CCCJ, has been taking a leadership role in discussions related to the establishment of an Economic Partnership Agreement between Canada and Japan. On November 2nd, the CCCJ in conjunction with Keidanren organized a high-level symposium on the EPA, Don Davies MP, together with Angela Hollinger, our Executive Director, were among the attendees at this symposium in Tokyo.
On November 26th, the first full round of EPA negotiation commenced in Tokyo. It is anticipated that there will be three more rounds in 2013, and our expectation is that the process leading to a Canada Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will conclude within a couple of years.
I should emphasize that our Society Board and Executive functions as a team and to the extent we have accomplished anything this year, it has been the result of the efforts of many individuals. I have been honoured to have the support of the Board of Directors, a dedicated Executive and in particular Angela Hollinger in the role of Executive Director.
In the year ahead, and on behalf of the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia Board of Directors, I would like to reassure you that we will continue to both support and continue amplifying the voices of those who are interested in and involved with growing the Canada-Japan bilateral relationships, be they in business, education, cultural pursuits or most important, in simple friendships between and among individuals and groups. Thank you for your continuing support.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!