Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan has held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the 39th time. Due to the continued state of emergency in Japan, it took place as a video conference. 35 regular members with voting rights and 11 others heard the annual reports and outlooks of the board’s subcommittees. The usual post-AGM dinner is now planned for April.
Honorary President Dr. Andreas Baum, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan, opened the AGM 2021 by praising the close collaboration between the Swiss embassy and the chamber. “I am very happy to have found such an active chamber,” said the ambassador who officially took up his post in November 2020. Dr. Baum emphasized that many activities of the embassy and the chamber are continuing notwithstanding the pandemic. “The new year is full of interesting prospects and could be exciting and positive, for example, with the Olympics and the House of Switzerland,” he said. “But all this is conditioned by the pandemic situation and the currently delayed rollout of vaccines.”
SCCIJ President Andre Zimmerman thanked the ambassador for his contribution and continued the AGM by confirming the required quorum for regular member participation. The minutes of the AGM 2020 were approved unanimously. Mr. Zimmermann stressed that in the past year, the chamber was able to hold many events despite COVID-19. The SCCIJ membership numbers also stayed quite solid in the face of hardship for many members. “I believe that we can move on like that also in the year 2021”, Mr. Zimmermann stated.
“Looking forward, there are also many things to do this year, COVID-19 or not,” he emphasized. At the same time, he apologized to the membership for not having provided the full range of services due to COVID-19. “Hence, we offered a token of support,” he said. Some members took up the chamber’s offer to donate this money. The SCCIJ Executive Committee will soon look for a worthy cause, the president announced.
The AGM also changed the composition of the Executive Committee. Masao (Mark) Torii, Country President of Novartis Pharma K.K., left the board after completing the allowed period of four years. Mr. Zimmermann thanked him for his great contribution and support in his role as Vice President of the Chamber. Newly elected to the board was Seema Bhayat, Local Managing Director of Lombard Odier Trust (Japan). Stefan Aebi of Gebruder Weiss K.K., Oliver Ryf of Aryzta Food Solutions, and Guenter Spiess of Nestlé Japan were re-elected as board members.
Report of PR/Media Subcommittee
In his report, PR and Media Subcommittee head Oliver Ryf (other member: Keiichiro Nagatani) pointed out new initiatives beyond the regular news articles and newsletters. In particular, the subcommittee introduced a “Meet the SCCIJ Members” article series which has profiled eight members so far and will be continued. “Besides, we improved the readability of the website, updated contents, and added new categories,” Mr. Ryf said. Also, the SCCIJ registered an increase in followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
The SCCIJ organized a survey among the recipients of the weekly newsletter about their views of physical and online events. According to the results, a higher percentage of members intends to participate in SCCIJ events in 2021. Finally, Mr. Ryf thanked the SCCIJ sponsors whose contributions in 2020 entirely financed the PR and media activities: Platinum – The Adecco Group, Credit Suisse, Novartis; Gold – Reishauer, Roche, Straumann, SWISS, Hotel Grand Phenix Okushiga, Unzen Kanko Hotel; Silver – Givaudan, InsighTech, Richemont; Bronze – Audemars Piguet, Breitling, CHPM, Kellerhals Carrard, Nestlé, Zurich.
Kanto and Kansai Events
The head of the Kanto Events subcommittee, Stefan Aebi (other members: M. Torii, I. Kaufmann, N. Takatsu, K. Suzuki), reported seven luncheons with a total of 313 participants. There were three events jointly organized with the Embassy of Switzerland, among them two Swiss Young Professionals meetings and the 3rd Switzerland – Japan Economic Forum in cooperation also with IMD business school.
Also, the SCCIJ held six webinars with a total of 285 participants and participated in five online and physical joint events with more than 20 other chambers. Besides, there were the Swiss National Day celebration with the Swiss Club Tokyo, a Shinnenkai evening, an outdoor cocktail, and a Year-End Dinner which replaced the Year-End Party for 2020.
For two months, the SCCIJ set up an exclusive and free helpdesk from April 2020 onwards for its members. A panel of experts from tax, accounting, HR and legal firms gathered by the SCCIJ answered COVID-19 related business inquiries. In May and June 2020, the chamber offered a free online fair that provided SCCIJ members with the opportunity to showcase their products and services. Ten companies participated, and the fair was one of the most consulted website pages in 2020, Mr. Aebi stated.
The head of the Kansai Events subcommittee, Guenter Spiess (other members: D. Sommerhalder, F. McKenzie), reported one Swiss Young Professionals Gathering in Kobe and a welcome dinner event for the new ambassador of Switzerland in Japan. The committee is planning two Swiss Young Professionals events at Swissotel Nankai Osaka and Nescafé Sannomiya Kobe. “We will decide later whether we can work out the usual company or factory visit with a reception”, Mr. Spiess said.
Relationship Management and Scholarships
Naoshi Takatsu, Head of the Relationship Management Subcommittee (other members: L. Orduña, N. Okabe, C. Mazzucchelli, G. Spiess for Kansai), summarized the service to members with the keywords luncheons, webinars, events, information, advertisement opportunities, connection to the embassy and social media. He promised to continue providing the best value to the members with added-value events, useful information, and enhanced online services.
Luca Orduña, Head of the Scholarship Subcommittee, reported that the “Swiss -Japan Scholarship Fund – powered by SCCIJ and SJCC” now supports young Japanese residents in their efforts to learn more about Switzerland. One Japanese has been chosen to experience Switzerland for a year, leaving in spring 2021. Six young Swiss citizens came to Japan on this scholarship during last year, and three recipients are expected to enter Japan in spring 2021.
Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ