invest in japan/jetro event

Thursday 30 October, 2008

I attended this event recently Invest Japan which was sponsored by Jetro the Japan External Trade Organization.  Patricia Haslach, US ambassador to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) started of by saying the midwest leads in foreign direct investment from Japan, (Illinois gets 36%) which creates 103,000 jobs with 1100 companies.  The Chairman & CEO of Jetro Yasuo Hayashi flew all the way over from Japan for this event & spoke about the Japanese-US relationship.  Jetro has brought 600 foreign companies to Japan since 2003 & consults with 1000 companies each year.  Stanley Roth, VP-International Government Relations with Boeing International, gave the morning keynote address about leveraging Japan’s corporate resources.  He broke down Boeing’s success in Japan into 4 phases:
1-sales, hired 1st international sales guy in 1953, opened 1st office in Japan in 1956, & made1st sale in Japan in 1963-lesson is be persistent & think long-term.  Boeing now has an 86% share in Japan.
2-making a good offer-be competitive on price, etc.
3-tend to relationships over time-don’t just parachute in & expect to get business.  Keep in touch locally on a regular basis
4-individual cooperation/collaboration-many trusted 747 subcontractors have come out of Japan

Dave Baeckelandt, a former interviewee of mine, next moderated a panel on regional opportunities & business strategy.  Dave Johnson, CFO @ Molex made a presentation on Japan’s central role in their changing business.  Here it is: japanscriticalrole Masachika Suzuki, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shizouka Prefectural University Corp. & former Lt. Gov. of Shisouka Prefecture made a presentation on the dynamics of a growth economy with his home as an example.  170 foreign companies are located there-95 of them are from the US.  Toyota, Yamaha, & Honda are based there.  Q&A explored:  Molex has been in Japan since 1983 & has dispersed locations to mitigate earthquake risk.  Johnson & Roth recommend using several Japanese trading companies to get started in the Japanese markets.

Drew Edwards, VP @ Advisory Research moderated a panel on Corporate Governance & M&A in Japan featuring Hiroaki Niihara, Dire., Corporate System Division, Economic & Industrial Policy Bureau, Ministry of Ecoonomy, Trade, & Industry (METI), Kazunari Tomita, Chief Rep. & GM NY Rep. office, Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), & David Makman, Counsel, Howrey, LLP.  The major topics of discussion were:  Pension Fund Assn., takeover defense measures, the Bull Dog Sauce case, & the role of outside board members.  While there are few hostile takeovers in Japan, acquisitions of Japanese companies is up 38%.  Enhanced disclosure has helped.  The TSE is #2 to the NYSE in capitalization with 2400 companies.  Reform is coming-2009 may be the year of the independent director.

Ken Kabira, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chicago Transit Authority, former CMO of McDonald’s Japan made a great presentation on big company global branding:  here it is:  kenkabiraglobalbranding In Q&A, we found the CTA is a retail business, so not that different from McDonald’s & Kelloggs.  Medium-sized companies can do much of what McDonald’s & Kellogg’s have done by working together closely with their partners & distributors, listening to specific factual details without opinion.  Also recognize that Japan is not a small country & it’s not all the same everywhere.

Yasushi Akahoshi, Dir. Americas Div., Trade Policy Bureau, METI offered a few perspectives on the US & Japan. George Hisaeda, Consul General of Japan in Chicago  made closing remarks.

Muth’s take-giving the recent crash of the financial markets, the timing of this event is unfortunate, especially for a country like Japan which is probably not inexpensive to enter.  Their goal is to reach 5% FDI by 2010.  Depending on how the exchanges react between now & then will go a long way in determining whether or not they reach that goal.


One comment

  1. Mike, Thanks very much for the kind words. Great summary of the event. Best regards, Dave

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