Belief of the President
2019 President – Akira Nonami
Give the courage to change the things that need to be changed.
Give the tolerance to accept the things that cannot be changed.
Give the wisdom to differentiate between the things that can and cannot be changed.
[ Introduction ]
JCI is an organization consisting of youth in over 130 countries and regions that overcomes differences in nationality, race, religion and gender and allows members to co-operate with like-minded individuals and engage in daily activities to improve their local area.
JCI Yokohama was established in 1951 with 15 non-Japanese members. JCI Yokohama prospectus states that the organization was established with the goal of inspiring and developing friendship among the youth shouldering the responsibility of a new society and, by collaborating with youth all over the world through contributions to society, cultivating the leadership needed in the future. The words “collaborating with youth all over the world” refers to the fact that even though our activities are focused on our local area we can work together with people all over the world so that each individual’s efforts and local changes contribute to a better world overall. The starting point for any change in the world is yourself and you need to become the change you want to see in the world.
Who are we? JCI Yokohama is a group that generates ideas. From 1951 when our story was first spun out to the guiding principle of “empathy” for the current decade, we’ve worked diligently everyday towards the goal of making Yokoyama a city that connects ideas. On top of the value brought through “empathy”, we want to emphasize our commitment to being the individual starting points for this change. The concept of making “Yokohama a city that connects ideas” can be interpreted as realizing a “Global City Yokohama”. With each individual being fully committed to realizing a better world and taking the necessary actions, we can form a movement towards making that world a reality. By starting to act, this opens the door for evaluating actions, gaining knowledge, and developing more effective strategies for solving problems which becomes the starting point for new actions.
[ Attitude towards a New Age ]
Nowadays, companies belong to shareholders and management is done with the goal of maximizing company value and shareholder returns meaning that there’s little room for discussion of modifications. With the majority of the world’s wealth held in the hands of a small percentage of the world’s population, even without an in-depth discussion we can’t help but intuitively feel that something is wrong. Instead of focusing only on the profits of shareholders, it is important to contribute to customers, trade partners, the local community and all stakeholders in general in order to achieve sustainable businesses contributing to the common good of society. The young businesspeople that will be responsible for the next generation need to have a flexible mindset and take the necessary actions to connect the chain of empathy.
We use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) given at the United Nations Sustainability Summit 2015 at an indicator for our social problem solving. One of the features of the 17 goals and 169 targets for the SDGs is that they encourage partnerships across sectors in the process from each individual development goal to the innovation in employment and industry. A new approach of business has been included in international development cooperation which up until now has not been able to achieve satisfactory results. By introducing business as an approach for international development cooperation, which up until now has been the responsibility of international organizations, and shifting the concept from aid to investment in businesses, this is bringing about a major change. In other words, a large feature of the SDGs is that the roles of companies and civil society are emphasized.
I believe that every business should have the threads of the SDGs crossing through them. That is, the establishment of all businesses should be in line with the goals of the SDGs and achieving the SDGs should be at the heart of all business activities. The SDGs are one option for solving various complicated issues that countries have no experience facing up until now such as declining birthrates and aging populations as well as disasters resulting from climate change caused by environmental problems. Since our establishment, our central role of community development and roots in Yokohama, have allowed us to develop a valuable asset in the relationships with the local government and other organizations that can be leveraged to turn us into a hub for calling for partnerships and developing a sustainable mechanism for problem solving.
By increasing the number of businesses in line with the SDGs and focused on social problem solving, internally, this will contribute to developing a sense of civic pride among the people working here and, externally, will allow new value to be created through city promotion for Yokohama.
[ Becoming a Focal Point for Problem Solving ]
The City of Yokohama, facing a decline in the working-age population experienced, for the first time in the post-war period, a decrease in the working population by attrition in 2016, and peaking this year, the overall population is expected to start decreasing as well. At the same time, with increased inter-city competition, in addition to Tokyo, former-Yokohama residents are moving to Kawasaki, Sagamihara, central Kanagawa and the Shonan area. If we look at the tax revenue for Yokohama, we can see that corporate tax contributes to a relative small part of the total revenue with the majority coming from individual municipal tax. With the declining population, we can expect a significant decrease in tax revenue which is linked to a decline in the city itself. The path towards solving this problem lies in strengthening tourism/MICE/IR and other ways of increasing the interactions between the resident and nonresident populations.
JCI Yokohama started the Yokohama Businessperson Conference in 1983. During the first conference, we gathered numerous people involved in the Minato Mirai 21 development project and discussed the best direction for the future of Yokohama. The development of Minato Mirai 21 has been on the agenda for many years and we’ve gathered the advice and opinions of various stakeholders. As a result, JCI Yokohama invested in the Minato Mirai 21 third sector organization and became deeply involved in the development project. At the Pacifico Yokohama constructed as part of the development project, we’ve held 23 Summer Conferences as of last year in which 20,000 participants from Junior Chamber locations all over Japan gather annually for this large-scale convention.
In 1993, in order to further promote the Minato Mirai 21 which was under construction, we decided to move the location of the Yokohama Kaikosai Festival which had been held in Yamashita Park since 1982 to the Minato Mirai area. As of last year, we hosted the event for the 37th time and saw 750,000 participants.
Currently, Minato Mirai 21 has become a symbol of Yokohama and entering the final phase of construction is expected to be completed in 2021. The new facilities will make use of PFI and take a BTO approach meaning that the project will involve both the public and private sectors and mark the beginning of new possibilities for Yokohama.
At the Yokohama Businessperson Conference, we’ve proposed pushing forward MICE initiatives. As part of this, JCI Yokohama is actively engaging in CR activities and proposing to host the 2020 JCI World Congress which JC members from all over the world will be attending.
Our predecessors taught us that if JCI Yokohama were a ship, the Yokohama Kaikosai Festival is the engine and the Yokohama Businessperson Conference is the compass helping steer the course.
With the Yokohama Kaikosai Festival, our predecessors were confronted with various regulations and through civilian efforts were able to successfully change regulation after regulation in order to be able to host the event as the citizen’s festival it is today. Yokohama Kaikosai Festival is the largest initiative of JCI Yokohama and has gotten to the point that it is a sign of summer for the local residents. To keep this spirit alive, we intend to use this on-going event as an opportunity to further deepen the relationship with the local community and plan on continuing this tradition this year as well.
At the Yokohama Businessperson Conference we’ve made many proposals that required out of the box and innovative thinking. As a responsibility of the young businesspersons that have been focused on community development in Yokohama, we intend to continue proactively holding discussions and engage in concrete actions.
As one of the proposals from the Yokohama Businessperson Conference, we are currently gathering plans and ideas for hosting the 2020 JCI World Congress and deciding the next actions to be taken. Hosting the JCI World Congress is not a goal but rather an opportunity and a tool to create a new and productive movement in Yokohama. With 7 matches, including semi-finals and finals, of the 2019 Rugby World Cup along with the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics being held in the summer of 2020, we want the JCI World Congress of 2020 to be part of the same story in this series of three major events. This would not only be a great opportunity to increase the nonresident population but also allow people to find the right counterparts and develop valuable skills and experiences through various businesses and social initiatives.
With last year being the 23rd time hosting the JCI-Japan Summer Conference and this being a major promotional event for the organization, we’ve been very grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the cause by hosting this event. As a result of hosting the Summer Conference, we’ve also developed valuable relationships with local governments and other organizations which, although intangible, are a very important asset. Historically, with the opening of the port of Yokohama, many youth wanting to change Japan came to the area and embraced this opening as a way to transmit new value throughout the country which is why we consider it an appropriate location for the JCI-Japan Summer Conference. Our desire to be the best partner for JCI-Japan in order to continually support transmitting their message is unwavering.
Yokohama, since the opening of the port, has been shaped by civilian-led movements and the shape of the city and its community has been influenced by this. The new Yokohama municipal government offices are scheduled to be completed in 2020 which raises the question of how the area where the current offices are located will be used in the future. The development of the Yamashita Wharf, the redevelopment of the urban and seaside areas, the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium and the Yokohama Stadium all provide the opportunity to contribute to tourism and promotion activities. We intend to take on the responsibility of moving discussions forward between all stakeholders about how best to deal with the issues facing our community and how to give birth to new value.
[ Establishing the Individual as a Starting Point ]
In recent times, the world “human ability” has become more common when complimenting someone’s charm and abilities. Although the definition of this may vary from person to person, it generally refers to someone who can actively live their life independently. In life, people can’t avoid interacting with other people and there may be times when they feel stress or even quarrel with each other. Nevertheless, what’s necessary is not agreement through collusion but rather coming together, sometimes colliding if necessary, and cultivating one’s character through the process. By understanding that what you consider common sense is nothing but your own personal bias, you begin to appreciate and respect other people’s perspectives which allows you to co-operate in a mutually respectful way. Life is not about using others to benefit yourself but rather acting in a way that helps others. Yokohama should be a place where each individual’s desire to help others can come together to form a much larger movement.
JCI Yokohama aims to be a dependable organization. In order to achieve this, trust is key. Gaining trust is fundamentally the same as gaining empathy. In order for people to see the benefits of connecting with JCI Yokohama, we’re constantly looking for new seeds and hints and intend to put even more effort in external collaborations. Communication only happens when your message has gotten across to your counterparty. If our message doesn’t get across then fundamentally our activities would end up being for our own self-satisfaction and fail at producing the change that we’re advocating. We need to actively engage in promotional activities taking advantage of the latest media and effective approaches in order to get as many people as possible involved.
The difference between a mediocre organization and an extraordinary organization is whether or not there’s a desire among members to accomplish more than the original job they’ve been given. In order to achieve co-operation, the individuals must first establish themselves and act proactively. In other words, an extraordinary organization doesn’t require superficial co-operation but rather that individuals have the commitment to take the necessary actions.
[ Conclusion ]
Growth is becoming able to do the things that you weren’t able to do before and seeing the things you weren’t able to see before. Even if looking at the same thing, if you see something different, this is evidence of your own growth. In order to achieve growth you need to step out of your comfort zone. If you continue doing the things that you think you’ll be able to do you might not ever exceed your current self. JCI is a dojo for life where you and your friends can brush-up your thoughts and pursue your desires and self-development.
The opposite of growth is not doing anything. Not going after a challenge is the same as failing. People experience numerous setbacks throughout their lives but if your dream and vision are clear you’ll be able to overcome your obstacles. Without fearing failure, we want to make the next year one in which we repeatedly go after our challenges.
In 2019, as JCI Yokohama, we want to carry on the ambition that we’ve built up until now and make this year the starting point of a new movement as we push towards the realization of the 2020 JCI World Congress and the 70th anniversary of JCI Yokohama in 2021. In a world where there is no right answer, if you don’t set a proper vision for your future, you may end up drifting towards an undesirable result. We want to create a future that fills us with energy, excitement and joy. The question is: how do we live now to achieve that future? Our goal is to make sure that the past does not determine the future but rather that we bring together everyone’s thoughts and actions towards realizing that future.
Throughout all the activities in the coming year of 2019, with each individual member focusing on their thoughts and actions, we want to come together as a solid team, a solid community and push forward towards making “Global City Yokohama” a reality.