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Message of the President

Activity Report 2014

Author
Felix Bossert
Published
July 1st 2015

ANNUAL REPORT 2014

It was not me but Henry Wegmann who led the Chamber for almost the entire year. In fact, his last official act took place in July 2014. As from October, I had to represent him in public and as from November his terminal sickness hindered him to fulfil any duties any longer. Yet, he planned to officially step down at the board meeting on 8 December, as he did not want to die in office. As we know, he passed away on 2 December. On 8 December, I was unanimously elected as president by the board.

Activity report 2014:

2014 was dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Switzerland. The Chamber celebrated this anniversary on the occasion of many events, mostly together with close partner organizations. 

Given our budget restraints and, in particular, the time our members are prepared to allocate to the Chamber activities, we ran at the limits of our capacity, as the following calendar demonstrates: 

14 January: Shinnenkai at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Speaker: Dr Dieter Schwarz on „Japonism“

21 January: Swiss-Japanese Symposium at the Winterthur Town Hall
Speakers: Ambassador Ryuhei Maeda / Ernst Stocker, Government Member Canton Zurich / Daniel Küng, CEO Switzerland Global Enterprise / Michael Künzle, Mayor of Winterthur / Professor Piveteau, President Zurich University of Applied Sciences / Hiroyuki Ishige, CEO JETRO / Yasuchika Hasegawa, CEO Takeda / Yves Serra, CEO Georg Fischer, Silvio Lehmann, CEO DMG Mori

5 March: Seminar “Japan Is Back” at Forum St. Peter Zurich
Joint seminar with JETRO and Switzerland Global Enterprise

20-26 April: Aimé Humbert et Le Japon Illustré at the Musée d’ethnographie Neuchâtel
Co-sponsored by SJCC. - By the way, after the meeting you will receive the publication of this exhibition for free as an o-myagi or “bhaltis uf Züritüütsch”.

22 April: Launch of the Yearbook 2014: 150 Years of Official Relations
Edited by SJCC

2 May: Seminar at the Geneva Book and Press Fair in Geneva
Speakers: Ivan Pictet, President Fondation pour Genève / Koichiro Nakamura,  DG JETRO / Dr Georg Blind, University of Zurich / Roger Mottini, Author / Pierre Schaufelberger, Nestlé

10 June: 29th General Assembly at the Zunfthaus zur Meisen in Zurich
Speaker: Heinz Karrer, President of economiesuisse: “Switzerland’s factors for success – quo vadis?”

23 July: Das Universum von Zen Meister Sengai 1750-1837 at Rietberg Museum Zurich / Idemitsu Museum of Art Tokyo
Curator Dr. Katharina Epprecht. Visit to the exhibition and tea ceremony with spouses
Co-sponsored by SJCC

15 October: FTEPA Free Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement: Benefit Analysis after Five Years
Colloquium with Professor Patrick Ziltener
Study co-sponsored by SJCC

6-8 November: Japanese Film Festival GINMAKU in Zurich
Co-sponsored by SJCC

22 November: JAPAN GATE in Zurich
Organized by our Alumni Organization

8 December: Bonenkai at the Zunfthaus zur Waag in Zurich
Speaker: Jan Jenisch, CEO Sika (Koichi Oba respectively): “Globalization and Expansion into Japan”

9 December: Formation of Parliamentary Group Japan Switzerland in Berne (by the initiative of H.E.  Ambassador Ryuhei Maeda)
Co-chairman SR Felix Gutzwiler & co-chairwoman NR Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter.
Seat at SJCC

Activities of the current year of 2015 focus on networking activities:

We started with the traditional shinnenkai party, the exchange of New Year’s Greetings, with the speaker Dr Rudolf Minsch, Chief Economist of economiesuisse.

Then, we enjoyed the visits to the tool-machinery manufacturer DMG Mori in Winterthur where Dr Harald Neun, CEO, welcomed the Chamber.

Just recently, we visited the textile designer Christian Fischbacher Co. AG in St. Gallen where Mr Michael Fischbacher, CEO, welcomed the Chamber.

Participants learnt that both companies do business successfully in Japan and gained an in-depth understanding of why these companies are leaders in their respective fields. - By the way, for those who could not participate, you find short articles about the visits on our website!

With today’s luncheon speech, we shall close the first half of 2015 activities. Shortly, we will learn more about a truly traditional Swiss company, Landis & Gyr AG. Landis & Gyr has changed during the years of globalization and consequently adapted new approaches to surviving, until it got acquired by a famous Japanese company, namely Toshiba. We are looking forward to welcoming Mr Andreas Umbach, CEO.

Report on governance issues:

When acting as a board member we carefully follow the Articles of Association, which are known to you, and the By-laws or Rules of Procedures, the guidelines for the board. As a newly elected president I, again, revisited the regulations and it happened that I realized that elements of modern governance are lacking. Indeed, our chamber was founded 30 years ago and our Articles of Association were last partly revised in 2006. It would have been my pleasure to present to you a few new items to keep up with modern governance already today.

The proposal would have introduced yearly election of board members, limited the years of service on the board, introduced an age limit to board members, and would have suggested the direct election of the president, not by the board, but by the members. Such rules bring utmost transparency and sustainable development through strong involvement by the member community. 

Additionally, the chairman of the scholarship fund stressed that the scholarship fund and the relationship to the alumni organisation would need some clarification.

All these points have now come under careful deliberations and the board may submit respective wording to the General Assembly, probably next year.

Apart from the above, I would like to inform you that administrative, financial and membership matters were kept in good order as you will be hearing from my colleagues soon.

From an institutional point of view, I may report that, in the reporting period 2014, the Board met twice and the Executive Committee six times to manage current businesses. Resolutions of the previous General Assembly were promptly executed and we properly followed the recommendations of the auditors.

In particular, a tax declaration entered in 2013 was responded to by the tax authority: The Chamber was tax-exempted as for 2012 and we trust that we may keep this status.

New president – new program?

Last December, the board mandated the Executive Committee to review the strategy of the Chamber.

In the meantime, the Executive Committee met twice to review policy and strategy based on our Articles of Association. Early this month, the ten members of the Executive Committee presented their input, each one on his role and function and respective goals for 2015; in total a thirteen page Position Paper.

The Board set up a sub-committee called the “finding commission”. The sub-committee has constituted itself and started to discuss new objectives and the future development of the Chamber. 

The process of modernization takes time as everything must be carefully reflected and prepared. I assure you that any changes in governance, or policy and strategy, would need a three quarter majority by the General Assembly as set out in the Articles of Association.