South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan
H.E. Mr. Lulama Smuts NGONYAMA / Honorary Chairperson
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in JapanH.E Mr Lulama Smuts Ngonyama is a former South African Ambassador to Spain, 2014-19 and currently to Japan. H.E was born in Uitenhage, where he attended school in Fort Beaufort. H.E graduated from the University of Fort Hare with a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), and a Master’s Degree (M.Phil) in Political Economy from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, amongst other qualifications.
H.E is a loyal member of the African National Congress (ANC), where he served as the head of presidency and as a national spokesperson for 10 years. H.E was a Member of Parliament for the South African National Assembly in 2009-14 when he was a member of the Congress of the People (COPE).
Ambassador Ngonyama extends his warm wishes to all members of the South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SACCJ). H.E is dedicated to deepening the strong diplomatic relation with Japan by advancing South Africa’s national priorities through structured bilateral engagements. Ambassador is committed to creating a better South Africa, committed to contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world. H.E emphasise increased cooperation and synergy between the Embassy, the Japanese government, its private sector and the Chamber and will continue to play a meaning role in stimulating the relations.
Ambassador Ngonyama sees the SACCJ as key to helping strengthen business and cultural ties, and is firmly committed to supporting efforts to bring the nations closer together through mutual understanding and respect. H.E reiterates that the SACCJ should identify trade and commerce opportunities for the South African government and business as well as enhance and promote friendship and cultural exchanges between South Africa and Japan.
H.E adores sport, a former rugby player and enjoys reading in his spare time. H.E would like to encourage the Chamber to foster relations between Japan and South Africa in the sporting fraternity.
Board of Directors
Jaco Minnaar (Chairman)
Jaco is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. After studying Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg (previously RAU), he worked in the Financial Services industry as an investment manager, trader and Financial Advisor for a number of years. In 2004, he decided to move to Japan, where he has lived and worked ever since. In Tokyo he shifted his career – he is currently working onsite at an investment bank in Talent Acquisition. Although firmly entrenched into his adoptive country, he continues to foster his relationship with his home country through family ties and Martial Arts (Karate).
Francois de Villiers (Vice-Chairman)
Francois is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa and has been living and working in Japan for 18 years. Presently he is working in the logistics & freight forwarding industry for Hillebrand Japan K.K.
Simon Farrell (Vice-Chairman)
Simon was based in Cape Town for about eight years as a foreign correspondent for US and UK publications. He also travelled around South Africa to report on business, society and lifestyle for the local press. He was inspired to write two books: South Africa Chic, published by Didier Millet in 2008, and Top Getaways in Southern Africa, published by Reader’s Digest in 2000. Simon's fondest memory is being introduced to SA President Nelson Mandela at Cape Town Press Club in October 1996.
Lungile Christopher Siphambili
Lungile is a Zulu/Ndebele name meaning the good one. My journey takes me from Africa to Japan by the way of the US where I attended the University of Georgia in Athens Georgia before continuing the adventure to Japan and being part of the International University of Japan and Nagoya University. I am thankful and grateful to the African countries of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe who have contributed to who I am. It is time to give back what I can and how I can. I am also grateful to have settled in the beauty that Japan is and looking forward to embarking on the next chapter of my journey in partnership with brothers and sisters from my adopted country of Japan. Business may be the war-cry but we are all learning, sharing in the hope of prospering. Lungile is a member of Out Of Africa Tokyo Consulting Japan KK which provides business consulting services on Japan and Africa, Import/Export business between Japan and Africa, tourism packages specifically tailored to young Japanese and focusing on rural and culture tourism. I also run an NPO focusing on Africa. “I am an African” Thabo Mbeki.
Francois Keet (Finance & Digital)
Francois is originally from Pietersburg/Polokwane, South African and has been living in the wonderful land of the rising sun (Japan) since 2013. Francois holds a bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology & Computer Science from the University of South Africa, and has a solid track record of delivering large and complex digital/business transformations programs.Francois believes that the SACCJ, with the support of the South African Embassy, is a good platform to build a business network between South Africa and Japan. Francois is a passionate supporter of Springbok rugby, loves South African wine and look forward to meet you at our next SACCJ social networking event.
Harrison “Chain” Hlabane
Born and raised in Benoni, South Africa, I am an academic, journalist and a business person, previously worked for the Star newspaper, Jacaranda FM, CTB Media (television network in Beppu), I am currently employed at SBT Japan in the Global Office Management division responsible for Global HR and BOP of 32 branch offices overseas. I am also a Director at BootCulture Sports Diplomacy Institute, South Africa, and also a Director at Sixgunsally PTY LTD, an event management company in South Africa.
I have been in Japan since 2004, and through the activities of my graduate studies and subsequent profession, I had and still continue to have the opportunity to travel back and forth between Japan and South Africa promoting people to people exchanges, journalist exchanges, education and dialogue between the two countries. I am passionate about forging closer relations between Japan and South Africa, and always taking the opportunity to promote the cultures of both countries whenever possible. My ultimate goal is to serve as a bridge between Japan and South Africa.
Rakgwale R. Kubjane / Director Ex officio
Rakgwale (Ronnie) Kubjane is originally from Limpopo Province, Seshego Township in South Africa. A graduate from the University of Durban Westville and Rhodes University. Rakgwale’s area of responsibility at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Japan include the strengthening of diplomatic ties between South Africa and Japan; encouraging more investment and trade into South Africa, people-to-people interaction, promoting Brand South Africa, the African Renaissance, amongst others. The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in japan collaborates with SACCJ to deepen contacts and engagements with relevant trade and investment institutions in Japan. He support Sports South Africa, and enjoys listing to Jazz/Fusion; and fishing
Riaan le Roux / Director Ex officio
Riaan act as liaison between the SACCJ Board and the South African Embassy in Japan.
Debbie Chaplin / Secretary General
Debbie was born and bred in the City of Gold, which is Johannesburg in South Africa. After graduating from the University of Johannesburg with a Bachelor of Science degree, she proceeded to work in the IT industry for an insurance company. Her curiosity led her to the Island that is Japan, where she has been working in education for the past 4 years. She believes that education through cultural expression provides a wealth of opportunities.
Katsura Ogishima / Finance Manager
Katsura Ogishima has been involved in the Chamber since 2018 and would like to contribute to the development of business between South Africa and Japan.
She has been to South Africa many times and loves South African wines, Hunter’s dry and the Braai culture