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The growing ties between Japan and Northern California

Japan and California have always enjoyed strong business, economic and social connections with ties going back more than a century. Reflecting that deep history, the U.S. state is home to the largest number of Japanese expatriates.

Japanese Society of Northern California President Larry Greenwood

The second-oldest such group in the United States, Japan Society of Northern California (JSNC) was founded 112 ago and it hasn’t strayed from its original mission to build a network between Japanese and Americans in the area. In line with its mission, JSNC organizes a series of events every year, all aimed at bringing its members closer and highlighting business opportunities for them to take advantage of.

Through its activities and programs, JSNC educates also Japanese companies about differences in doing business back home and in the United States.

“We combine Japanese excellence in technology and manufacturing execution and creativity with the entrepreneurial ability and venture capital financing expertise in Silicon Valley to create wider opportunities for both,” said JSNC President Larry Greenwood.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California (JCCNC), a non-profit group founded in 1950, works closely with local state governments to promote business and goodwill between Japan and the United States.

Japan Chamber of Commerce of North America President Hiroshi Tomita

JCCNC promotes strategic partnerships between both sides. Through these, the organization wants to publicize the prominent economic contributions of Japanese companies to California.

“It is very important for Japanese companies to show how much they contribute in California. We want to provide more value for members companies by continuously developing relationships with local communities and economic organizations, as well as expand investments in California,” said Japan Chamber of Commerce of North America President Hiroshi Tomita.

According to these two organizations, the most active industries that have seen growing Japanese involvement are biotechnology, data analytics and entertainment. The other areas of investment include stem cell technology, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, business processes, and food.

JSNC and JCCNC believe that Japan and the Bay Area can mutually benefit from each other’s skills and strengths, all of which complement each other rather than contradict each other.

Capcom, originally from Japan, opened its office in California in the 1980s and has been a leader in the video game industry for more than 30 years.

Playing a crucial role in this global organization, Capcom USA oversees a massive market in a very dynamic industry. As such, Capcom USA provides important feedback on local consumer habits, behavior and preferences, which are vital to attract their target audiences for specific games.

Capcom is responsible for iconic games like Mega Man, Street Fighter and Resident Evil, which have continued to entertain millions of gamers for many years. Its strength lies in continuously creating innovative games that push technical and creative limits.

To expand its audience and fan base, Capcom is looking at different forms of partnerships with companies like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, as well as with digital platforms and new areas like ESPN, Twitch and Red Bull.

“We want to work with the best partners. We maintain game quality and excellence while optimizing opportunities. But people are the most important. We are a Japanese company hiring the best talent. Understanding and bridging the culture gap between the Western market and Japan will be crucial to our success,” Capcom USA CEO Kiichiro Urata said.

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Northwest USA 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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