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Thu 08 February 2018 19:00 - 21:30

Event report- Shinnenkai on February 8

With nearly one year under his belt, Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Japan chairman Jorg van Leeuwen is looking forward to exciting times ahead.

In his opening remarks at the chamber’s 2018 Shinnenkai, van Leeuwen said the NCCJ will be busy this year preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the biennial Deshima Business Awards and events to mark the NCCJ’s 40th anniversary. He also said the past year has been interesting and enjoyable.

 We basically kicked off the year with a relatively new board… a fresh team of people” he said. “Everyone was putting in a lot of time and energy; thoughts and ideas. It’s not a one-man show.”

The chairman pointed to November’s opening of the main gates at Deshima Island as one of the year’s highlights. “This bridge is of big symbolic significance for the trade relationship between the Netherlands and Japan that go back more than 400 years,” said van Leeuwen. “But also, in a wider sense, for the cultural, and academic and all correspondence and connections between Japan and the Netherlands.”

December’s consensus between Japan and the European Union on an Economic Partnership Agreement was another key event for chamber members in the past year. Van Leeuwen expects the EPA to be formally signed this June, meaning the NCCJ will have an important role in keeping members informed about the pact (most importantly, through the European Business Council).

This agreement is long overdue,” he said, adding it should “free up the potential of more trade between the EU and Japan by removing customs duties and other trade barriers.”

Although the NCCJ is relatively small, van Leeuwen believes the chamber plays a vital role on the EBC. He highlighted Karsten Vijge’s work over the past year as an example. Vijge, who is leaving Japan for Singapore, was praised for his efforts to make the EBC more accountable to the chamber’s membership.

He not only challenged the current members of the executive board, he showed a very constructive attitude,” said the NCCJ chairman. “So, although you are leaving now, this is the year we will implement many of your plans and we will all reap the fruits of your hard work last year.”

Kiminobu Yoshida of Philips Japan will be the NCCJ’s new EBC representative. 

Prior to raising his glass for the 2018 Shinnenkai kampai, Paul Zwetsloot of the Netherlands Embassy talked about preparations for the up-coming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. He pointed out that since Japan hopes to make the Games the “most innovative and sustainable” ever, NCCJ companies should get involved. “It’s good that the world knows that you have to get in touch with the Dutch to be innovative and sustainable,” he said.

The 2018 Shinnenkai was again held at Brasserie Va-tout, in Roppongi, and co-sponsored by the Holland Alumni Network Japan. In his address, HANJ president Yuichiro Koguchi encouraged his members to enjoy networking with the NCCJ. “We have 26 HANJ members here tonight,” Koguchi said. “These people graduated or have studied in Holland, so please let’s have good communication tonight!”

With many new NCCJ members in attendance, the chamber continues to grow — now up to a total of 55 companies. Frank Eijsink or NN Life Insurance, Roger Brantsma of Hilton Tokyo Bay, Rob van Veen of Mazars and Boris Donglemans and Atsushi Sasaki of EuroCaps were among those who joined in the past year.

In closing out his remarks, the NCCJ chairman invited members to attend more NCCJ events and perhaps even host their own lunch seminars as opportunities to show “thought leadership.”

Don’t think other members would not be interested in what (your) company is doing,” said van Leeuwen, Manager of International Tax Services for PwC Tax Japan. “Because last year, my company organized a seminar on Japanese tax reform and we had a full room.

So it’s not that difficult…”