Twenty-fifth Southeast United States - Japan Conference Held in Virginia
-Ambassador Discusses Japan's Economy, Business Partnerships-
Norfolk - "Some may say that watching the Japanese economy improve is like watching the grass grow," explained Ambassador Shunji Yanai to a packed audience of more than 600 attendees at the Twenty-Fifth Annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast United States- Japan Association (SEUS) taking place today and tomorrow in Norfolk, Virginia.
United States attendees include corporate executives doing business with Japan as well as state governors and representatives from Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Each of the seven-member states has sent a delegation comprised of approximately 70 business and community leaders. The Japanese delegation is comprised of top business executives from companies such as Toshiba, Mitsui, Hitachi, Sharp, Bridgestone/Firestone and Toyota. The governors of six of the seven states were in attendance with the secretary of state representing Florida.
The Ambassador spoke about Japan's slowly improving economy and hopes for a rebirth via a growing technology base. "Japan's most important hope for a rebirth is in technology-building an e-Japan," the Ambassador stated. Yanai went on to explain that "e" in Japanese also means "good."
"I am not an economist," explained the Ambassador, "so, I don't feel bound by the statistics. I see something positive happening." He went on to add, "Japan's aim is to become a high-growth economy by creating new business and reviving existing business." He also pointed to the financial assistance Japan provides to other nations, "Japan plans to extend as much as $15 billion over the next five years to countries struggling to improve their IT."
Sighting a decline in unemployment, growing numbers of venture capital companies and the incredible growth of the Internet and use of wireless devices across the country, the Ambassador further stated that he is cautiously optimistic. His speech drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
The SEUS-Japan Association, organized in 1976, was created to foster the development of international trade, culture, industry, technology and commerce. According to Naohiko Kumagai, Chairman of the Japan-U.S. Southeast Association, the Southeast United States has successfully built a growing $25 billion business relationship with Japan which includes more than 1,000 Japanese companies in the Southeast US which employ more than 140,000 people.
"We are very excited to host this great event," states Barry E. DuVal, Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "Japan is Virginia's second largest export destination with more than $1.48 billion in products exported to Japan in 1999. With more than 100 companies in Virginia with Japanese affiliations, it seems only fitting that Virginia would host this important program."
Also fitting is the fact that Virginia made three major announcements during the preparation of SEUS-Japan. DaiEi Papers (USA) Corporation, Somic Ishikawa and Usui Corporation have located new operations or expanded existing operations in Virginia over the past 30 days.