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Japanology: Sapporo Life Helped Deepen Experience


American Chamber of Commerce President Christopher LaFleur

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has been one of the most influential foreign business organizations in Japan.

Christopher LaFleur, the 55th president of the ACCJ, has spent a total of more than 20 years in Japan as a diplomat and in other roles. He recently talked about the ACCJ’s activities and economic issues as well as his personal experiences in the country.
The Japan News: When and how did your first encounter with this country take place? LaFleur: That goes back quite a ways. I first visited Japan in 1969 on my way toward being a student of Chinese in Taiwan. I stayed a few days in Tokyo, and so that was my first experience. But in a real sense, I got to know Japan much better later on after I joined the U.S. government. I entered the U.S. State Department in 1973 and was assigned to be a vice consul at our consulate in Sapporo. In order to serve in that position I had to study the Japanese language in Washington for several months. And then I arrived in Sapporo in 1974, so that was really the beginning of my experience with Japan. Q: What do you remember most from your time in Sapporo? A: I was very delighted to have an opportunity to live and work in Sapporo for a few reasons. Sapporo is probably — Hokkaido in general, and Sapporo in particular — the part of Japan that’s most similar to the United States in that it is a place that many Japanese came to live in only relatively recently — many settlers came from all different parts of Japan. In that sense it’s rather similar to the United States.

I think people in Hokkaido are very open and make friends easily. It’s a society in which I think Americans feel quite comfortable, so I enjoyed being in Sapporo. I learned how to ski there — although I come from the northern part of the United States, I’d never had a chance to learn how to ski, so that was great. And the opportunity to work on a variety of different jobs as vice consul — some of that work involved consular affairs, others involved commercial work.


To read more, pick up the Feb. 20 issue of The Japan News.

via The Japan News

1 Comment on Japanology: Sapporo Life Helped Deepen Experience

  1. I grew up in Hokkaido, and what he says is true. People settled in Japan in early days were frontiers.


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