PRESS RELEASE

8 June, 1999

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FINNISH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN JAPAN ESTABLISHED

Trade relations between Japan and Finland have a long tradition. Early 1920fs already the Japanese silk and pottery were known in Finland and in 1930fs some Finnish industrial products like pulp found their ways to Japan. The Finnish forestry products had been known through import agencies since 1960fs but when the Finnish paper industries founded their own offices in Japan in 1970fs the business started to mount. Soon more companies joined with their offices or joint ventures and today there are around 40 Finnish enterprises established in Japan.

In trade, transportation, tourism, as well as finance, investments and technology, Finland and Japan have grown much closer together. Japan is the most important economic partner for Finland in Asia. The membership of Finland in the European Union only increased the agenda of common interests. The birth of Euro makes Finland part of one of the world currency zones, the Euroland.

The Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (FCCJ) was formally established on 26 April at a founding meeting held at the Embassy of Finland. This created a new body to further promote trade and economic exchange between Japan and Finland.

The roots of the FCCJ lie in the Finnish Business Executives club started through get-together luncheon meetings in the early 1980fs. This informal activity was reorganized in 1992 to become the Finnish Business Council (FBC). Although the council had its own by-laws and rules, it was not an official legal entity in Japan, and thus lacked official status, and consequently the power to act on issues involving governmental bodies.

When Finland joined the EU in 1995 it also became part of the European Business Community in Japan (EBC). To be active in this cooperation required additional resources, as well as a more formal status. This led to the decision by the FBC board to propose that its members develop a council to a Chamber of Commerce. The formal decision to go ahead with the establishment of FCCJ was then taken at the FBC annual meeting in December 1998.

The main objectives of the FCCJ, apart from improving services to member companies, is to encourage Japanese companies with a business interest in Finland to become more involved in the Chamber activities. During the one and a half months since its establishment, the FCCJ has already shown considerable success in attaining this goal, attracting an impressive 26 new Japanese member companies to bring the total number of corporate members to 56, just short of the target of 60 set for the first year. Still during this year, a particular challenge already presents itself in the fact that Finland will assume the Presidency of the European Union from 1st of July.

The President of FCCJ is Mr. Rauno Sirola (President of Vaisala K.K.) and Vice President Mr. Hirokuni Yoshida (President of Outokumpu Japan K.K.). The Chambers office is located at Finland House, Co. on Ota-ku and Mr. Clas G. Bystedt is the Executive Director.

Web site address: http://www.finland.or.jp/chamber

For further information:

Mr. Clas G. Bystedt, Executive Director, tel. (03) 3773-0385, e-mail: finlandh@twics.com

NOTE:

Images from the Reception on 8 June are available for download after 10 PM at this address: http://www.finland.or.jp/chamber/reception0806.html