Event Spotlights Innovation Opportunities for Partnering with Japanese Companies

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The California Chamber of Commerce served as a supporting organization for a recent symposium focusing on “Opportunities for  Innovation: Getting More Involved with Japanese Business.”

The Japan-U.S. Business and Technology Symposium was held in San Francisco earlier this month, and Susanne Stirling, CalChamber vice president of international affairs, was in attendance.

The event was hosted by the Japan External Organization (JETRO), a nonprofit government-related organization that helps U.S. companies establish a Japan office and find Japanese business partners. JETRO also connects U.S. investors with Japanese ventures, and promotes Japanese goods.

Toshiro Okada, director of the San Francisco JETRO office, welcomed the more the 200 attendees. Tsuneyuki Kato, executive vice president of JETRO based in Tokyo, added his welcome, before Hidehiro Yokoo, director general of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) discussed Invest in Japan: New Chances for your Business.

Japanese Economics

Aligning with the recent Japanese “Abenomics” measures, the symposium aimed to reinvigorate economic interaction between Japan and the United States. Shinzo Abe’s comeback as prime minister is currently driving Japan’s economic turnaround.

In his keynote speech at the symposium, Director General Yokoo focused on the “Three Arrows of Abenomics.” These include:

  • a bold monetary policy,
  • a flexible fiscal policy, and
  • a growth strategy to energize the private industry.

The third point includes regulatory reform, promoting economic partnerships (such as the Trans Pacific Partnership) and supporting the advancement of women in the Japanese workforce.

According to JETRO, Japan has an attractive investment environment with a well-developed infrastructure, sophisticated market, high level of innovation, and a safe and comfortable living environment. The real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate has gone from negative to positive.

As the third largest economy in the world by GDP, Japan is undergoing an economic revitalization while remaining one of the United States’ most important economic partners. World economy dynamics continue to change rapidly with the rise of the emerging markets, thus making a strong relationship between Japan and the United States critical to the economic health of both countries.

During the February 10 symposium, attendees were introduced to recent Japanese technologies advances and learned how such innovations are essential to growth in several industries. The symposium also provided an opportunity to learn about supportive measures by the Japanese government such as subsidies, preferential treatment, and deregulation for foreign business establishments in Japan. Government incentives for investment are available via JETRO and METI.

Breakout sessions with industry professionals from both countries focused on specific, high-growth industries to discuss funding opportunities, explore how Japanese expertise can provide additional value to U.S. businesses, and understand how the U.S. and Japanese enterprise can boost business collaboration.

Breakout session topics include Information Technology, Energy & Environment, and Healthcare & Medical Devices. The event concluded with a closing session on Demystifying Japan.

Recent Trade Statistics

usa_japan_ca_flagsThe United States is a large supplier of computer and electronic products, chemicals and transportation equipment to Japan. It is also one of the largest U.S. foreign markets for agricultural products.

U.S. exports to Japan were more than $65 billion in 2013, making it the fourth largest export destination for the United States. Imports from Japan to the United States were $138.5 billion, with transportation equipment accounting for 42.4%.

According to the most recent figures, U.S. direct investment in Japan totaled $134 billion in 2012, largely in financial, software and Internet services. Foreign direct investment from Japan into the United States was more than $308 billion.

California continues to be the top exporting state to Japan, accounting for nearly 20% of total U.S. exports. Japan has remained California’s fourth largest export market since 2010, after Mexico, Canada and China. California exports to Japan totaled $12.7 billion in 2013. Computers and electronic products accounted for 22.9% of total exports.

California imports from Japan were $38.4 billion, with transportation equipment accounting for more than half of total imports. California is currently the top importing state in the United States for products from Japan. In addition, California buys more products from Japan than any other country besides China.

For further information, please visit www.jetro.org and www.calchamber.com/Japan.

Staff Contact: Susanne Stirling


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Anthony Samson has been the CalChamber policy advocate for environmental regulation, housing and land use issues since November 2013. He previously was an attorney at Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford, and Johnson LLP, a statewide law firm that specializes in mining, land use, and natural resources law. He earned a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law, where he served as the articles editor of the Michigan State Law Review.