First Canadian Women-only Business Mission to Japan to Visit Tokyo, Kyoto

March 29, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario – Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada  

The First Canadian Women-only Business Mission to Japan, the first gender-based mission into Asia, will visit Tokyo and Kyoto from April 1-3, 2019. Organized by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), the Mission will include corporate and university site visits, pitch presentations, key stakeholder discussions, and networking events with 36 representative women leaders of Canadian business, innovation, and thought leadership and their Japanese counterparts.

Japan, which hosts the world’s third-largest economy and is one of Canada’s oldest and strongest trading partners, is an ideal entry point for Canadian women business leaders and entrepreneurs looking to diversify into Asian markets. This three-day Mission is intended to facilitate the expansion of Canada’s women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) involved in health and eldercare into Japan’s highly-developed market supporting its aging population. 

Mission objectives include:

  • Creating business opportunities through B2B matching sessions, partnerships with Japanese incubators and venture capital, and introductions to Canada’s network of trade offices as well as Japanese government and non-government services.
  • Expanding Canada-Japan networks of women business, thought, community, and government leaders.
  • Enhancing understanding of Japan’s aging society, its gender inclusion policies and practices, and its business practices and culture.

The First Canadian Women-only Business Mission to Japan is a direct outcome of recommendations from women business and thought leaders who participated in APF Canada’s dialogue series Women2Women in the Asia Pacific conducted across Canada from 2017 to 2018 and led by APF Canada Vice-president and Mission Director, Christine Nakamura. The Mission is co-chaired by Ryerson University Chancellor Janice Fukakusa and by Dr. Beatrix Dart, Professor of Strategic Management and Executive Director of the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

The First Canadian Women-only Business Mission to Japan has been made possible through the generous support of Manulife, as well as Air Canada, The Embassy of Canada in Japan, Global Affairs Canada, and Samantha Thavasa Japan Ltd., and in partnership with The Centre for Global Social Policy, University of Toronto.


“Small- to medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the Canadian economy, but only 16 per cent of these enterprises are women-owned or women-led. Women entrepreneurs face many barriers such as accessing capital, expertise and networks, which also hinders their export-readiness. This first-ever women-only trade mission to Japan, hosted by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, is offering Canadian women entrepreneurs amazing opportunities to enhance their international networks and opening doors to new business relationships and future growth.”                                                        

–  Mission Co-chair and Rotman Initiative for Women in Business Executive Director, Dr. Beatrix Dart

“As a CEO of a private organization, my primary objective is to explore and pursue potential partnerships and opportunities for growth and expansion of the organization that I lead. The additional benefit of being able to help shine a light on fellow Canadian female leaders and entrepreneurs and provide another example to young women across our great nation that any glass ceiling they encounter in life can be broken – brings me immense joy and pride.”

– Fonemed Chief Executive Officer, Charlene Brophy

“The talent of the women recruited for this first-ever gender-based business mission to Asia has inspired me tremendously. I hope to make this the first of many women-led missions to the vibrant markets in the Asia Pacific region.”

– Mission Project Director and Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Vice-president, Christine Nakamura


Michael Roberts
Communications Manager
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada