Keidanren’s Presentation on “Japan in the Bay Area: From Competition to Collaboration”

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On May 30, the Japan Society of Northern California hosted Keidanren’s (Japan Business Federation) presentation on “Japan in the Bay Area:  From Competition to Collaboration,” in collaboration with the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California (JCCNC), and JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization). Keidanren is Japan’s leading business and industrial organization with great influence on Japanese economic policy. Keidanren’s delegation members included Delegation Leader Yoshiharu Ueki from Japan Airlines Co., Ltd, Delegation Co-Leader Eiichi Yoshikawa from MUFG Bank, Ltd, and representatives from All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd, Hitachi America, ITOCHU Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc, OKAYA & Co., Ltd, Sumitomo Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Tokio Marine America.

The presentation gave an in depth look into the California-Japan economic relationship, Japanese investment in California, corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by Japanese corporations throughout the United States, and opportunities for Japanese startups in the Bay Area. The speakers were both informative and light-hearted as great business insight was given along with being able to connect a face to several major Japanese corporations.

While each company under Keidanren clearly had its own unique characteristics and values, it was made clear that all could agree upon the importance of the US-Japan bilateral relationship and the significant economic opportunity that the Bay Area presents to Japan. The United States and Japan both share key fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and market economies that enable economic relations to flourish. As Japanese FDI to the United States continues to grow, currently, California is the state that receives the most Japanese investment.

However, there are also many hardships that both the United States and Japan may face as they enter the “4th stage of the Industrial Revolution.” This is why Keidanren stresses the importance of pursuing US-Japan economic collaboration, rather than competition, in order to deal with issues such as energy, environment, innovation, aging society, etc. Due to all industrial sectors being transformed by increasing technological advances, Keidanren discussed their proposed next steps worth taking in order to achieve sustainable growth. Keidanren’s “Society 5.0” is a  plan for Japan to transform and grow by harnessing innovation and digital technology. They also encourage the establishment of collaborative R&D centers in both the United States and Japan. Moreover, as the Bay Area’s uniqueness in innovation and technology continues to present an attractive destination for Japanese investment, Keidanren highly advocates for collaboration to be pursued by both parties, and for a favorable trade deal between the United States and Japan.

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