"To boldly go where no Chamber has gone before."
Keita Koido joined the Norwegian Chamber of commerce (NCCJ) in 2008, serving on the Board of directors. He later became Vice President and was elected President in 2013, as the first non-native President of a European Business Chamber in Japan. Since his succession, the corporate membership has risen by nearly 70%. It is now heading towards 60 members – the highest number ever. Some other European chambers have followed NCCJ's example, indicating that Mr. Koido's successful work with NCCJ has paved the way for greater diversification of the business chambers as a whole. Entering the final months of his presidency, we look back on his legacy at NCCJ with a close-up interview.
You have been the President of NCCJ for six years. What do you think has been your most prominent contributions to the Chamber?
I had two clear goals when becoming a President. First was to raise the visibility of the Chamber in order to reach a broader audience in the business and administrative area, to firmly position Norway in Japan. Norway already has a positive image because of its seafood and travel opportunities (e.g. Aurora Borealis). But we are not limited to these industries. There are many Norwegian companies in Japan with success within other areas such as in Maritime, Medical, Energy, and Design. We are now fortunate to have broad representation, with members from all these categories. My second goal was to make the Chamber more relevant by redefining Norwegian identity, asking ourselves what is unique about our Chamber. I started by transforming the Chamber to become more democratic in its decision making. We have a very active Board of directors and a spirit of doing things together.
Furthermore, we have been hosting an annual Norwegian Salmon party at the Embassy. It has become one of the most popular events at the Embassy, and provides a showcase for this important bilateral business.
NCCJ Academy was launched in 2017 and it had a considerable impact on companies running businesses in Japan, with relevance both for Japanese employees in Norwegian companies and for Norwegians working with Japanese customers. Here our parters can learn how to tackle common challenges when conducting business across cultures.
Much effort was also put into enhancing our relationship with other chambers. As an example, I coordinated a four-day trip to Okinawa for the Chairmen of all the Nordic Chambers with full support from Okinawa Prefecture. This momentum allowed NCCJ to build a closer relationship between the Nordic Chambers. Along with Michal Berg (our previous executive director), we also took part in establishing CLIC (Creative Linking of International Chambers), which has been an enormous success.
One of the proud advantages of our Chamber is the strong cooperation we have with the Embassy, where we work closely together as a “Team Norway”. We are extremely good at concentrating our efforts and resources, and I made sure that this spirit of collaboration was passed down throughout the Chamber.
You've also been the President of Lerøy Japan KK since 2008. How do you think this has impacted your work at the Chamber?
Working for Lerøy for more than ten years has helped me understand the core of the Norwegian business culture and provided an excellent base to succeed as President of NCCJ. Seafood is the most significant area of Norway – Japan trade, and I feel very fortunate to work at the forefront of this field. My position in Lerøy was one of the reasons the former Ambassador asked me to consider taking the role of NCCJ President.
Would you tell us a bit about the challenges you're going to take on after leaving the Chamber? Will we still be seeing you around?
I will continue to be a part of and supporting the Chamber, even after my presidency. I am an active member of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), one of the three influential and well-known business associations in Japan, where I have been engaged to promote business between Norway and Japan. Through my activities in the Association, I even had the opportunity to talk about seafood and industry in Norway to the Japanese Prime Minister, and I aim to promote Norwegian business also in the future.
Now that we are looking for candidates to take the lead after you, do you have any words of encouragement or advice to give the next President?
The next president should be strongly committed to the role because it will take a lot of effort. Increasing visibility and making the Chamber relevant requires time, both for meetings and travel. EU and Japan just signed an Economic Partnership Agreement earlier this year, so I am positive that free trade will have an impact on Norwegian business as well. Together with Team Norway, the Chamber will play a more influential role in developing business ties between the two nations.
I am confident that our next President will take the Chamber to a new level, just as I have done through my presidency, just like the NCCJ Presidents of the past. Our legacy will continue.
This upcoming Annual General Meeting will be Mr. Koido’s last as President of NCCJ. Please join us at the Norwegian Embassy on May 23rd to thank him for his great contribution to the Chamber.
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