Partner Focus - European Business Council in Japan
Q1 Tell me about your organisation?
The European Business Council (EBC) is the trade policy arm of 15 European National Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations in Japan. It has been working to improve the trade and investment environment for European companies in Japan since 1972. The EBC was registered with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in 2008 as the European (EU) Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
The EBC currently works for around 2,500 local European corporate and individual members. Some 200 companies participate directly in one or more of the EBC’s 23 industry committees, whose work covers a wide variety of economic sectors.
The EBC cooperates with the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, the national European Embassies, and other business organisations to co-ordinate policy proposals and make suggestions to the Japanese Government on how to create an open environment for trade and investment in Japan.
Q2 Why did your organisation set up in Japan?
Japan and its institutions have a complex structure with a convoluted web of procedures, regulations, and laws. The result is a high level of regulatory and nonregulatory hurdles, presenting European companies with a major deterrent to business development and investment, and restricting growth potential. A thought leader on trade policy in Japan, the EBC leverages its reputation as a trusted expert organisation in Japan so that its members’ voices are heard in the corridors of power – in both Europe and Japan.
Q3 What initiatives are you looking forward to in this year?
In 2020, circumstances pushed the EBC to take the lead on advocating for the re-opening of the Japanese borders to foreign residents blocked outside the country: between April and August, many European companies – and their Japanese partners - conveyed their concerns for their business operations in Japan. Since January 2021, as foreign non-residents are not allowed to enter Japan under the State of Emergency, the EBC resumed its meetings with Japanese ministries and organisations to help companies on a case-by-case action.
Furthermore, as Japan has announced that it will be carbon neutral by 2050, we believe this will open some opportunities for European companies. It is, however, important that the regulatory framework supports this, and that investments and technologies can enter Japan without facing obstacles. The EBC therefore, in parallel with monitoring the situation, advocates for harmonisation of regulations and standards, and the mutual recognition of approvals and licences.
Q4 For you, why is collaboration with foreign chambers including the IJCC important?
Collaboration with foreign Chambers is of utmost to the EBC.
First, because the 15 European national Chambers of Commerce - the IJCC is one of them - are our Members. The 15 presidents of these Chambers make up our Board.
The EBC wishes to act as a platform bringing together the 15 Chambers on advocacy topics.
The pre-requisite condition to join the EBC Committees is to be a member of one of these Chambers. Each committee is monitoring its industry’s regulatory environment and brings up non-tariffs barriers issues. Once identified, the EBC organises a strategy (statements, conferences, high-level meetings, etc.) to solve the problem. Every year, the EBC White Paper presents the work of all committees and is handed over to the Prime minister, to several ministries and officials.
Q5 How can IJCC members get involved in your activity? And which field are you looking forward to collaborating with IJCC members especially?
We do not have yet many Irish members and we are looking forward to welcoming your companies in our committees. We think that more EU national diversity in our committees is the best way to reflect the real issues EU companies are facing in Japan.
We are aware that Irish companies are very strong in the ICT, medical sector as well as well as in the agricultural field. We will always welcome Irish Chamber members to come and observe any of our committees!
From the interview with: Valerie Moschetti, Executive Director / COO