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Texas-Japan Summit: Innovating regional relationships

By Irene Hirano Inouye, President of the U.S.-Japan Council
-    Apr 10, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

In recent years, the U.S.-Japan Council has been putting more resources into regional programs, like enhancing sister state-prefecture ties and other connections to strengthen bilateral relations. The Japan-Texas Economic Summit is a part of this effort to form innovative ties at regional levels.

Last year, we held a highly successful Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, the first large-scale regional summit that brought representatives of seven Japanese prefectures to Hawaii.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye

For our second regional summit, we thought Texas would be the perfect venue because there are very many economic and business opportunities between Japan and the Lone Star State. Texas is a leading destination for foreign direct investment from Japan and has wonderful resources in fields like energy and medicine. Each city has unique, distinct characteristics that some Japanese leaders may not yet know.

We would like to bring leaders from throughout Texas and Japan to explore these opportunities together and expand their network. We expect about 300 individuals to attend. They include the representatives of our sponsors and collaborating partners, which is about 80 companies and organizations as of late March. 

Prominent leaders from both countries will discuss the many ways Texas and Japan can further collaborate. Governor Hideaki Ohmura of Aichi prefecture, who signed Aichi's MOU with Texas in 2016, will be one of our speakers. Like the Lone Star State, Aichi has a strong auto industry.

Some of our other speakers include Mitsuru Claire Chino, EVP & CAO of Itochu International Inc.; Bruce Culpepper, President of the Shell Oil Company; Shigeru Hayakawa, Vice Chairman of the Toyota Motor Corporation; and Shigeki Maeda, Vice President of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

We are welcoming Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston. Representatives of other major Texan cities like Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio will discuss the economic opportunities in their hometown. 

We will also have panel discussions and TED-style talks on topics such as industry innovation, workforce development, energy, medicine, manufacturing, transportation, finance and national security. One of the goals of the summit is business matching, which we will pursue through formal occasions like our Regional Hospitality Rooms (hosted by representatives of cities across Texas) and informal opportunities like our Business Networking Breakfast (where tables will have themes, such as law and finance, to encourage exchange among experts in that field).

All of the themes to be discussed at the summit, including energy, medicine and national security, are areas that can blossom even further. The summit will be about economic collaboration. But as an organization focused on people-to-people relations, we also hope there will be more opportunities for business, government and nonprofit leaders from both countries to learn from one another, or for Japanese and Texan students to visit each other.

Author's Note: 

The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) was founded in 2008 by Japanese American leaders. It is a nonprofit educational organization that seeks to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship through people-to-people relations. Through innovative programs in networking and leadership, the USJC aims to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations.

Our annual programs, which include our Annual Conference, and programs that bring diverse leaders to Japan, like the Japanese American Leadership Delegation program and the Asian American Leadership Delegation program, have been very successful.

The USJC seeks to inspire the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through the TOMODACHI Initiative, which was born out of support for Japan's recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Since its inception, the TOMODACHI Initiative has enabled over 6,700 young people to travel from Japan to the U.S. and the U.S. to Japan and now every year enables over 1,000 young people to participate in educational and leadership exchange programs. TOMODACHI has supported exchanges of young people between Texas and Japan. 

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