Japan-U.S. Investment Initiative - 2008 "Invest Japan" Seminar

The Japan-U.S. Investment Initiative's annual "Invest Japan" Seminar took place October 30 in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka. These seminars have been held since 2002 with the aim of promoting greater foreign direct investment between Japan and the United States. This year's event was hosted by Shizuoka's Prefectural Government, with support from the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the U.S. Embassy. It followed a similar Investment Symposium in Chicago, Illinois, October 22.

Shizuoka Governor Yoshinobu Ishikawa described the prefecture's strong technological base making it an excellent place to invest. Shizuoka hosts world-class companies in the machinery, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and musical instruments sectors. U.S. Ambassador to APEC Patricia Haslach and Mr. Sadahiro Sugita, METI Deputy Director General for Trade and Economic Cooperation delivered welcoming remarks.

Highlight of the event was a panel discussion, led by Prof. Haruo Shimada, President of the Chiba University of Commerce and Chairman of the Expert Committee on FDI promotion, and featuring U.S. and Japanese executives from companies with significant cross-border investment. Panel members described challenges facing firms in a foreign business environment, the need to be sensitive to cultural differences in business practices, and the importance of locating operations close to the final customer. Participating U.S. firms were New York-based Corning Corporation, a leading manufacturer of LCD displays and optical fibers, and Michigan-based Shape Corporation, a manufacturer of automobile bumpers and vehicle support structures. Japanese participants were from Yamaha Motor Corporation, the world-famous motorcycle manufacturer and Koito Manufacturing Co., Ltd., a maker of automotive lighting equipment.

In addition to the panel discussion, Mr. Yasuo Hayashi, JETRO Chairman and CEO, talked about the Japanese government pro-investment policies. Allan Smith, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan spoke about a "Vision for a New Economic Partnership for Trade and Investment." Also in attendance were officials from eleven U.S. states with trade and investment offices in Japan.