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Editorial

By Genichiro Higaki, President Sumitomo Benelux, President Nihonjinkai and Vice-President BJA

It is my great pleasure to accept the nomination of Vice-President of the Belgium-Japan Association & Chamber of Commerce. I have been serving BJA as a Member of the Board for more than one year.

This time, as a Vice-President, I am looking forward to getting more involved in the various BJA activities.  

Since the beginning of this year, we have experienced a unique period due to COVID-19 infection. BJA organized its AGM on Web for the first time in its history. Also, for the period of the last several months, BJA has organized webinars and virtual meetings, which allowed us to stay in touch. Considering the evolution in the communication technology, we will probably need to keep on inventing a new way of networking even after COVID-19. I believe that all together we can work to provide the best solutions to “unknown” challenges. I am very proud to be Vice-President and to contribute to BJA under this unusual situation.

Taking this opportunity, please allow me to introduce myself very briefly. I joined Sumitomo Corporation in Tokyo back in 1982. Since then, I spent approximately 2/3 of my career in Sumitomo as grains and oilseeds trader including nearly 7 years spent in the United States. After returning to Tokyo, I was transferred to the Financial Service Division where I experienced commodity derivatives business, venture investments etc. I had another opportunity to work in the States again, followed by another assignment in Hong Kong.  Therefore, this is the fourth time for me to work outside Japan and it was very fortunate that I could come to Belgium this time to become the President of Sumitomo Benelux S.A./N.V. on the very first day of the year 2019.

Looking at the situation in Belgium/EU, things are moving and changing quite rapidly. One year and a half has already passed since the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) entered into force. Since then, the relationship between the two regions have surely strengthened from both political and trade flow viewpoint. Thanks to free and open market place, the volume of trading has increased drastically in both ways.

In addition, in September last year, the leaders of EU and Japan signed the document entitled ‘The partnership on sustainable connectivity and quality infrastructure between Japan and the European Union’. I believe both Japan and EU are aiming not only at mutual development but also at global sustainable development.

Considering all above, Belgium as a key member state of EU combined with its important position where core functions are located, enterprises in Belgium will have to play key roles to contribute to further development of our economy. I do hope BJA can support each member’s contribution for both short and long-term perspectives.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize that it may be destiny, or in Japanese ‘EN’ (縁), that has brought us together at the same timing here in Belgium. It is an important and essential value when organizing and managing an association like BJA. I will cherish this good opportunity.     

I am looking forward to making many connections with you, and let’s come together to reinforce the cooperation between the Belgo-Japanese Community.

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