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Connecting Asia and the Americas

Over the years, San Diego and Japan have seen their relationship grow more extensive, trade-wise and culture-wise. Above is the Japanese Friendship Bell at Shelter Island, one of the parks overseen by The Port of San Diego. (CREDIT: Port of San Diego / Creative Commons)

The state of California, situated on the West Coast of the United States and bordering the Pacific Ocean, is generally known for its great weather and some of the most majestic sceneries on that side of the continent.

San Diego, one of the most recognized counties in California, is located at the state’s southernmost point and has long been among the most popular destinations not only within California but within the entire country.

According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, the county welcomes more than 33 million visitors every year, all of whom spend nearly $8.4 billion. The significant contribution of the tourism industry extends beyond county borders as it generates more than $388 million dollars annually in state and local taxes.

While tourism and its impact continue to grow, San Diego has found itself in the advantageous position of offering investment opportunities in a wide range of areas. With the recovery from an unforgiving recession gaining increasing momentum in the United States, the county of San Diego can boast of having navigated the deep downturn successfully.

“Business is good in San Diego. We are coming out of the recession pretty strongly. Job growth has been better in San Diego in comparison to other places in California because we diversified our economy a long time ago,” explained San Diego Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders, who was also once mayor of the city.

Because of its deep-water port, San Diego hosted one of the country’s largest mainland naval and air bases. So, the city attracted defense contractors, as well as the high technology and advanced offshoot industries that came with servicing the American military.

Aside from clean and renewable technologies, wireless communications and big data analytics, San Diego has also seen growth in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. Today, San Diego has the highest employment rate in California and exhibits encouraging signs of growth in all industries.

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. President Mark Cafferty (Credit: San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.)

“We are seeing the sports industry here in San Diego emerge and complement what has been here for quite some time — the life science industry, which is one of the largest cluster industries in the world,” explained San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. President Mark Cafferty.

“The city also does position itself as the largest wireless city in the world with (the) largest telecom industry, anchored by QUALCOMM. You are seeing traditional drivers of our economy complemented by some of the emerging industries leading the future growth of San Diego,” Cafferty added.

With so much excitement surrounding this thriving economy, many are growing aware of the long-running and deep connection between San Diego and Japan, a country that has a well established reputation around the world as a pioneer in hightech industries.

"Job growth has been better in San Diego in comparison to other places in California because we diversified our economy a long time ago,”

- San Diego Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders

“In a lot of ways, I would credit the Japanese business leadership for developing what is today one of San Diego’s most attractive advantages: our crossborder relations with Mexico,” stressed Cafferty, in reference to the practice of large Japanese companies during the 1980s and 1990s setting up factories and facilities in San Diego and northern Mexico.

“What we find from Japanese companies such as Takeda, Kyocera or Sony here in San Diego is that they become ingrained in the community, which seems to be a value that is very important to the Japanese and it is very important to us also,” said Sanders.

Optimistic about the long–term prospects of Japanese investment in the county, several entities in San Diego, from both the public and private sectors, have worked on establishing daily flights between Japan and San Diego International Airport.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Japan Airlines and the Oneworld Alliance as partners in San Diego. We think there is a tremendous amount of energy between the two business communities. We are committed to do anything we can to make sure that the flight is successful. We want people in Japan to know more about San Diego.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President Thella Bowens (Credit: The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority)

"We are committed to the trade and the business partners we’re dealing with,” stressed the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President Thella Bowens.

The local business sector remains also very bullish about the prospects of increased trade and business with Japan.

“Our willingness to continue growing San Diego’s business with Japan could not be higher. The personal relationships, investments and partnerships that have been established in San Diego and Asia has been magnificent. If we look at who we are doing business with on a significant level, it is impossible to ignore the importance of Japan,” said Cafferty.


- Originally prepared by Global Media for The Japan Times Special Report on San Diego 2014 (Credit: Philippe Le Saux and Conrad Becker)

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San Diego 2014 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

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