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The Spotlight's on Jay Ponazecki

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The Spotlight's on Jay Ponazecki

Japan is slowly rising up the UN Global Gender Gap, narrowing it down a little every year. One of the people helping pushing Japan into the top 100 countries for gender equality is Jay Ponazecki.

When U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy gave a speech at the 2014 USJC-ACCJ Women in Business Summit, she singled out Jay for her accomplishments, “and for her commitment to mentoring young women in the workforce.” Especially since Jay was not only a partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster's Tokyo Office, but also in 65-plus years the second female president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

She's been a voice for legal revolution in Japan, encouraging the country to admit more foreign lawyers into the legal world. When she co-chaired the Japan Structural Reform Task Force (JSRTF) at the ACCJ, she noted that then existing rules left consumers of legal services in Japan frustrated by fragmented advice and increased costs due to the need to hire multiple law firms—just at a time when global legal services were what the country really needed.

She's not only been a voice for American and Japanese women seeking equal opportunity in Japan’s business world, but also a strong supporter of entrepreneurship, something she feels Japan also really needs.

As she explained in a 2014 interview with Nikkei Asian Review, “If there's economic growth in Japan, demand for American and other countries' goods and services would increase, which would then result in more exports and prompt repatriation to the U.S. and other countries. The result? More jobs everywhere! About 40 percent of our members are small and medium-size enterprises with less than 400 employees. Japan is seen as a promising market with many opportunities for further growth.”

And of course, for foreigners who've found success in Japan, she also sees immigration as plus for the country. “Another area where we believe legal reform would be helpful for entrepreneurs and the development of small and medium-size enterprises is immigration law," she says. "Japan should make it easier for foreign students to study in Japan and for foreign investors and entrepreneurs to enter Japan. This would not only expand the tax base by bringing more workers to Japan, it would also increase opportunities for entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment, and further the country's global competitiveness.”

Be sure to check out the video (above) as Jay sits with AAJ to tell us her recommendations on ways to make your time in Japan extra spacial!