Candidate Profiles CCCJ
Board of Governors
2019-2021 Term

The following 15 candidates have been nominated for election as Chair, Vice Chair, and Governor, for a total of 9 openings:


Neil van Wouw

Vice Chair

David Anderson

Governor (alphabetical)

Alex Dmitrenko - Rob Fuller - Donovan Gordon 

Eric de Groot - Ron Huber - Phillip O'Neill - Karl Pires

Aaron Reist - Annamarie Sasagawa - Jackie Steele

Yuko Sudoh - Nicolas Chow Chin Sung - Riyo Whitney



Profiles will be updated as we are provided with materials. Please check back often for updates.


Neil van Wouw (Acclaimed)

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It’s been an honour to be the CCCJ Chair these past two years. So much has happened. We moved office and implemented a membership database (for the first time in chamber history) - two factors which have helped return the chamber to fiscal stability.

We created two new standing committees (CSR & GDM), and started a monthly Hackathon to allow members to easily participate in committees and chamber initiatives. Membership engagement has increased and most of the committees are again active.

It’s been an exciting time for advocacy as well. The Chamber’s two long-time advocacy initiatives (a Canada-Japan FTA and restoring voting rights to expats) have both come to fruition, with the CPTPP trade agreement coming into force in December, and bill C-76 together with a decisive Supreme Court ruling restoring voting rights.

It is a great time to be part of the Canada-Japan relationship, and as the foremost business community of stakeholders in this relationship, the Chamber plays a unique and very important role. 

It feels like we can and should do even more. I’d like to see us grow our community to become stronger, more vibrant and more engaged. I’d like each of you to feel value in being part of this community and a sense of accomplishment for the difference we are making together.

This will be my goal for the next two years as your Chair. Together, let’s try and take the Chamber to the next level.


I’m from Vancouver, and came to Japan in 1986 after graduating from SFU in Computer Science. After several years in Hiroshima creating CG software, I moved to Tokyo in 1995 to join one of the first ISPs in Japan. Now CEO of Vanten K.K, I’m on a mission to shape the future of digital communication.


Vice Chair

David Anderson (Acclaimed)

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My name is David Anderson and I am the Managing Director of the Alberta Japan Office. Prior to this posting I served as the Executive Director of the CCCJ for nearly 3 years. Before my time at the Chamber, I spent 5 years working at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Toronto. In short, the last 15 years of my life have been spent promoting the development of commerce between Canada and Japan, which is in fact exactly the mandate of the CCCJ.

Through my experience heading the secretariat of the Chamber, I have an enhanced understanding of the operations of the Chamber and areas where opportunities and challenges exist. As Vice Chair, my goals will be to improve communication clarity between the office, the Board and the various Committees thereby improving cooperation and operational efficiencies. Also, with my experiences over the past 15 years, I have developed a strong awareness of and network among many Canadian and Japanese companies. As Vice Chair, I will proactively promote membership to companies that are yet to join and encourage active Member engagement in the Chamber.

Promoting Canada-Japan commercial relations is not only my job, but something I am passionate about. There is tremendous opportunity for growth and development in the bilateral relationship and the CCCJ has a unique and important role to play in helping achieve this. As Vice Chair, I commit to you to work hard to make the Chamber and our community a stronger place.



Alex Dmitrenko

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Alexander Dmitrenko is a Canadian (of Ukrainian descent) living in Tokyo since 2009. Pursuant to receiving his Master of Laws degree from the University of Toronto and NYU, Alexander worked in the legal field in Toronto, New York and Tokyo for over a decade. He is currently a Senior Associate in the Tokyo office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, advising Japanese and multi-national clients on regulatory and compliance matters. Prior to Freshfields, Alexander worked as Senior Counsel at Sojitz Corporation in Tokyo.

Alexander believes in importance of community work. He is a Co-Representative Director and one of the co-founders of Lawyers for LGBT Allies Network (LLAN), a leading NPO promoting equality for LGBT people in Japan. His legal career in Canada involved working on the same-sex marriage and other social justice cases.

With the CCCJ, he has been involved in the CCCJ’s Tohoku project and recent diversity and inclusion initiatives, including organizing events with the Canadian Embassy. Alexander would be keen to bring fresh blood and enthusiasm to the Board to make the CCCJ and our Canadian community here in Japan even more vibrant, visible and successful.


Donovan Gordon

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Donovan Gordon was born and raised in Toronto by Jamaican parents. Now living and working in Japan for the past 5 years as a Customer Service Advisor, and has been a CCCJ member for the past 2 years. With over 17 years of Customer Service and Customer Relations experience he provides his services to various companies in the Tokyo Area.

He always had an interest in Japan since he was a child. Watching Action movies with his grandfather he always thought how amazing Japan was. In the last 14 years he was able to be apart of the Japanese communities in Toronto and Japan. Strengthening the relationship between Japan and Canada has always been an important part of his life.

As a CCCJ member Donovan took on the role of being the Gala Chair for The Maple Leaf Gala, which was held in 2018. A rather large responsibility. The Event was well organized, and fun for all who assisted in it’s preparation. 

In his spare time he enjoys reading books, watching movies, exercise, outdoor sports, Speech/Negotiation training, and help mentor individuals on their fitness/health.

Being in a multicultural family he is use to being around different types of people. It was always easy for him to make new friends, work easily with others, understand people’s problems, and be accepting of anyone he comes into contact with.

As Governor Donovan will continue to be active with Meetings, Events, and join other committees. He will go above and beyond to attract new members, share his influential contacts; and suggest ideas to further the development of the Chamber.

Please vote Donovan in to be a Governor with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan. It would be an honor for him to take on this great challenge.


Eric de Groot

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Eric de Groot lived in Osaka & Tokyo for over 25 years, has been a CCCJ member for over 18, a board member for 8, was the chair for the 2009 term, and is currently the Chamber’s special representative in Toronto.

Eric remains heavily involved in the import and distribution of Canadian & European construction material. During his tenure in Japan, he headed up both Canadian & Dutch manufacturing firms, becoming President of Icynene Asia Pacific, the Japanese subsidiary of Mississauga, Ontario-based Icynene Inc., in 2014. He continues to work with Icynene form Toronto, making quarterly trips to Asian markets.

From Canada, Eric is working hard to further develop commercial ties with Japan. He works with the Toronto Shokokai (the Toronto Japanese Business Association), JETRO Toronto, the Canada-Japan Society, and many more in developing bilateral relationships, enhancing the CCCJ’s profile while he does so. He is also an accomplished organizer, assisting Mississaugua’s annual Canada-Japan Festival, and helping the Chamber become more involved with Japan-related initiatives from the Greater Toronto Area.

Eric is a major proponent of Japan-Canada relations, and fully expects the CPTPP to further spur the interest of Canadian businesses in the Japanese market and vice versa. He also believes that having a Governor located in Canada’s largest city significantly raises the Chamber’s profile, and helps attract domestic Canadian companies looking to enter the Japanese market.


Rob Fuller


As a Canadian and a permanent resident of Japan since 1990, and an active member of the Chamber since 2008 I am please to have had the opportunity to be nominated for Governor of the CCCJ. The last 2 years have been incredible being the Vice Chair working with Neil and the other governors. This has been a very rewarding experience for me.

One of the bigger challenges in the next 2 years will be the WC Rugby and the 2020 Olympics. As governor I will be better positioned to assist the others in activities surrounding these events. 

My professional background includes environmental science, procurement in the Oil and Gas markets and management construction of projects in Japan. My current position, as representative director of the Asian Pacific market, has given me the opportunity deal with many large Japanese companies, many of whom are Corporate members of the CCCJ and have interests in Canada.

If given the opportunity to be a Governor of the CCCJ I would work hard for Canadians living and working in Japan as well as assisting Canadian companies based here and in Canada with their business in the challenging Japanese market which we call home.


Ron Huber

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I have served the Chamber as a governor since 2013 and Corporate Secretary from 2012-2015. I want to continue to be on the Board of Governors to support further reforms and support our Members. As Governor I will ensure that the full range of my abilities as a businessperson, lawyer, and uniqueness as an individual support us in this important time in Canada-Japan business relations.

Since 1992 I’ve worked, studied and lived in both Japan and Canada and have been based full-time out of Tokyo for the past decade with close ties to my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta and Grant MacEwan University where I have both volunteered at and directed the Japan Practicum for the Asia Pacific Management Program since 1996. My day job now is as Chief Marketing Officer for Mystays Hotels under the Fortress Investment Group and also responsible for Village House and Solaniwa Onsen at Osaka Bay Tower. I am an Alberta lawyer and former Canadian trade-mark agent, a real estate and startup investor including Original Stitch and NetConnect. I have extensive experience as a CRM, advertising, brand, legal and business consultant in Tokyo serving numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as SMEs and startups in fluent Japanese and English.

I’ve been active since 2011 including: the Constitutional Reform Committee for the extensive overhaul required to democratize and restore confidence in our organization; numerous subsequent rounds of amendments to the bylaws including adding the Honorary Board of Advisors; three hiring committees to fill our Executive Director and Office Manager positions; the Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement; helped organize one of the largest CCCJ events held at TMI for P3; numerous other related initiatives with TMI; and many elections and Nominations Committee over the years. I’ve been the CCCJ representative for JMEC since 2013.


Phillip O'Neill


It has been my pleasure to serve of the CCCJ Board of Governors in a number of capacities over several terms and was my distinct honour to be Chair (President) from 2005 to 2007, Vice-Chair (Vice President) from 2007 to 2009. I have been elected to the board for several terms since then. My activities with the Chamber centered on the development of trade policy initiatives and participation in preparing major events. Though I played only a small part, we can see these trade initiatives coming to fruition these days with the TTP11. I have also remained active with supporting various committees, including the events committees and women in business committees and with the board through participation in the BOG meetings. 

I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and studied at McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal.  I have an MBA from McGill. I have been in Japan for most of my life, having lived and worked in the Kansai area, and served for a long period as Director of McGill University’s McGill MBA Japan program in Tokyo. The students and alumni from this program make up a large contingent of CCCJ members.  I have recently returned to Kyoto where I am running my own boutique consulting company which works to develop business ties between Japan and Canada. 

I am hoping to reconnect the Canadian community in the Kansai region over the next few years and to continue to develop closer and deeper ties, which will strengthen the Japan-Canada relationship. 

I am very proud and honoured to be nominated to run again for the position of Governor of the CCCJ. 


Karl Pires

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I have been serving as a Governor and the Corporate Secretary of the CCCJ since the 2013 AGM and am nearing the end of my third two-year term. Prior to being elected as a Governor, I served as the Chair of the CCCJ Constitutional Reform Committee from 2010 to 2013 and, since becoming a Governor, I have continued to take a lead role at Board of Governor meetings and AGMs regarding in respect of explaining, complying with, and amending the provisions of the CCCJ Constitution and Bylaws. I also provide support to the Chair, Executive Director and Board of Governors in terms of drafting and revising contracts and other legal documentation involving the CCCJ.

I am a Partner at the Tokyo office of the global law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP and I have been practicing law for 20 years – 9 years in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the past 11 years in Japan – primarily handling cross-border M&A transactions for Japanese companies. I have also been teaching at the Keio University Law School as an Adjunct Professor since 2014.  

I was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, shortly after my parents immigrated to Canada from India and the Philippines. From age two, I was raised in Victoria, British Columbia and eventually graduated with a B.A. from the Faculty of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria. I then spent two years on the JET programme as a Coordinator of International Relations at the Wakayama Prefectural Government before returning to Canada to attend law school at the University of Toronto. My wife, 14-year old daughter, and I enjoy visiting Victoria/Vancouver every summer and Christmas to spend time with our extended family there.

Thank you to all the Members of the CCCJ for considering my candidacy.


Aaron Reist


Firstly, thank you to those who nominated me and for this opportunity to serve as governor to the CCCJ. I am truly honored.

The past 2 years working with the current CCCJ community has been inspiring.  It has provided me a unique opportunity to play a key role in creating the Investment Opportunities Committee and the Canada-Japan Sports Council.

Built on The Chamber’s Canada-Japan Business Guide publication, the Investment Opportunities Committee’s mission: connect businesses, individuals and, of course, members and to help nurture those connections to tangible results.

For CCCJ Members, the return is two-fold: 1) empower all members (not just committees) to further enhance and grow The Chamber’s greatest asset, her network 2) give members – especially those in higher tiers – better tools to tap our network and unlock further value.

The Canada-Japan Sports Council is a collaborative effort with the CCCJ and Canadian Olympic Federation (COF.) With the 2020 summer games right around the corner, our immediate mission is to provide boots-on-the-ground support and help promote Canada and her athletes.  Long term, we look to leverage the momentum of the games and focus on strengthening the Japan-Canada relationship through sport. 

For CCCJ Members we hope this will be an opportunity connect/participate in Canada’s the 2020 Olympic efforts (and RWC!!); rally-up and unify our support for Team Canada; and be a part of laying the foundations for a Canada-Japan sports program.

It is indeed an exciting period in Japan and Japan-Canada relations and as a member of the board I look forward to being a part of the Canadian movement in Japan.

I would like to thank all the members of the CCCJ for considering my candidacy.  I look forward to serving the chamber and her community.


Annamarie Sasagawa


I grew up in British Columbia and first came to Japan 16 years ago. I’m a cultural anthropologist by training and worked in tourism in Japan and China and consumer ethnography in Japan before taking my current role in global communications at a Japanese multinational.

The CCCJ exists to develop the Japan-Canada business relationship, and I want this to be a relationship based on mutual understanding and a willingness to learn from each other. As an active member of the CCCJ’s Global Diversity Management Committee, I have been working to organize events where interested people on both sides of the Japan-Canada business relationships can learn about diversity management.

As a CCCJ governor, I will apply my expertise in communications and stakeholder management to two specific goals: implementing a communications strategy that builds a strong, sustainable Chamber by increasing engagement with diverse stakeholders in the Japan-Canada business community; and continuing to support the Global Diversity Management Committee to position the CCCJ as the go-to place in Japan for interested people to learn about how to leverage diverse perspectives to create both business and social value.

Like all CCCJ members, I know firsthand the challenges and rewards of doing business across cultures, and the value an active Chamber of Commerce provides. I appreciate the CCCJ’s culture of respect and openness, and look forward to the opportunity to further invest in the Japan-Canada relationship.


Yuko Sudoh

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I have been working for a Canadian technology consulting company from Ottawa in Tokyo for 13 years in marketing and event planning, and have been a member of the CCCJ for 9 years. I visit Canada every year for our international sales conference.

CCCJ provides me with opportunities for networking and learning about understanding and communicating with Canadian people in business. As governor, I would seek to plan great business networking events to promote and develop business relationships for members. My primary goals are growing membership and awareness of CCCJ amongst the Japanese business community, and creating more opportunities for CCCJ members.

I would like to thank you all for giving me the honor of this great opportunity.


Jackie Steele - Governor

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My aim this year is to bring leading Canadian academics, researchers, and graduate students into the CCCJ network to foster awareness of Canadian research and policy expertise and to foster greater synergies among researchers, member companies, and delegations visiting from abroad.

Dr. Jackie F. Steele (PhD) is a trilingual political scientist and longtime (1997) Japan resident with expertise in risk governance, intersectional (GBA+) policy analysis, women's leadership, and how to diversify organizations. Building upon insights gained from political philosophy, legal studies, applied research, and practitioner experience, Dr. Steele is passionate about inclusive public policy and corporate strategies that integrate diversity, idea pluralism and innovation into the core values and practices of inclusive leadership.

Following upon six rewarding years as Associate Professor at ISS, University of Tokyo, Dr. Steele is now Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University. As the recent Founder of en-joi D&I Consulting and Training, Jackie is sharing her thought leadership and literacy training on diversity, intersectionality, and innovation with progressive stakeholders and practitioners in Japan and Canada.


Nicolas Chow Chin Sung

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I am a recent graduate of the McGill Desautels Professional Masters of Business and Administration, having started in Montreal and continuing and completing the requirements in Tokyo. Born and raised in Montreal, I come from a very multicultural and mixed background as my family originates from the African tropical island of Mauritus. I am fully trilingual (English, French, Mauritian Creole) and I am now working on Japanese.

I have a technical background in Mechatronics (robotics), and I have spent my career in technology development through startups targeting the manufacturing and logistics industries using robotics as a platform to automate and gain efficiencies. I have also started an initiative to expand the program I have also started an initiative to expand the FIRST robotics program across Japan with the FRC Alumni Association. The goal is to promote STEM and inspiring youth to pursue higher education.

I now live and work in Tokyo as a robotics and technology consultant, and I am a new member to the CCCJ looking to make an impact and keep a connection to my home, the Great White North, Canada!

Riyo Whitney

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I am honoured to be nominated as a Governor for CCCJ. As the Principal of Bunka Suginami Canadian International School, I believe Education to be one of Canada’s most marketable commodities.

In dealing with the various and often conflicting arms of running a school, I have honed the skills to navigate a goal-oriented, collaborative, evidence-driven, and economically viable path. The Tokyo private school accreditation process has rated our school as one of the top innovators in Education in Tokyo, developing global thinkers with skills for the 21st century. Our graduates have been accepted at top universities on both sides of the Pacific. Numerous CCCJ members have shared experiences and advice to our students, planting seeds for the future —  thank you! My career in Education has also included teaching at Canadian and Japanese universities, recruiting international students for Canadian school districts, and creating curricula for the BC Ministry and at S.P.I.C.E.

Additionally, I am a partner in a Charter Air Service business in Canada. I also have work experience in the Hospitality industry dealing with VIP’s and event planning. One of my most rewarding volunteer work was to assist in the formation of a sister-city relationship between Mission, BC, and Oyama-cho in Shizuoka.

I hope to continue collaborating and learning through CCCJ, but also to champion and challenge the CCCJ to have even greater impact on strengthening and enhancing Canada-Japan ties. Is there an appetite for an Education-Business committee? I have been actively involved in CCCJ since arriving in Tokyo just over a year ago, attending Hackathon meetings, volunteering on the Events committee, and attending numerous CCCJ-sponsored events. The collegiality is amazing. I hope to be able to serve you as a Governor.