How to create friendships that transcend boundaries inside and outside the company

I am Ichiki of Sync Logistics. In this issue,

I would like to introduce the Sri Lanka Automobile Exporters Association in Japan, of which I am a member.

■ What is the Sri Lanka Automobile Exporters Association in Japan (SLAEAJ)?

The Sri Lanka Automobile Exporters Association in Japan is an association of Sri Lankan nationals in Japan who are engaged in the business of exporting used automobiles and other related activities. It was launched in 2012 with four members, including the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Japan and three founders of major Sri Lankan shipping companies.

Its mission is to develop trade between Sri Lanka and Japan focusing on automobiles.

The association, founded by entrepreneurs with great track records and high aspirations, continues to expand its membership and activities.

Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 20 million people.

I think Sri Lanka is known in Japan for its black tea and Ayurveda, a type of conditioning treatment for mental and physical health. (If you are interested, just send me a message and I will introduce you to Ayurvedic spas in Japan.)

I also think Sri Lanka has many cultural similarities with Japan, from Buddhism which is widespread in both countries, to being island countries where imports and exports are important. Since my twenties, I’ve had many Sri Lankan friends and colleagues, so I feel a strong attachment to their country.

I first joined the association with the aim of selling logistics services for Sri Lanka, but I’ve realized and learned a whole lot more since participating in its activities.

■ Why was the association established?

There is one frustrating thing about Sri Lanka, and that is revisions to laws are made autocratically.

When you are considering a country’s medium to long-term future, there may be times when you need to push policies that are disadvantageous to some people. However, I think this must be carried out in a way that minimizes the impact on people who have given their support to the country.

Having said that, of course it is egregious that there are policies that only benefit some people, and if they are painful policies, there should also be accountability.

In the trading of automobiles, Sri Lanka has been repeatedly subjected to sudden restrictions, resulting in immense losses for those involved.

To address this, we are developing relationships with local car dealers and others who are involved in the industry to lobby the Sri Lankan government.

■Establish a mission that’s beneficial for everyone involved.

We’ve been told it might be a good idea to launch such an association in the automobile forwarder industry where we provide our services. If the purpose of such an association is to keep industry prices uniform or to fence in customers for a forwarder’s convenience, then the industry will decline and hobble the very automobile exporters who should be supported. However, if the association’s mission will benefit all those involved, I think it should be launched immediately. Our company’s mission for the 2020s is to maximize the number of automobiles exported from Japan. This will not only improve short-term profitability for those involved, but also increase transactions with companies abroad, which will lead to future business expansion such as increased demand for parts. Increasing the number of friendships that transcend boundaries inside and outside the company – this is one of the points that we would like to put all our efforts on in 2022.

Thank you for your time.