Saitama City, designated one of East Japan’s “core cities,” is well positioned to become an important growth hub in the country. The city has six shinkansen or bullet trains lines and is located beside Japan’s largest commercial market, the Tokyo Metropolitan area. With its inland location and flat and stable Saitama City also faces lower risks from natural disasters.
GMI Post met with Saitama City Mayor Hayato Shimizu to get insights on the city’s rapid development, its business infrastructure and its priorities for the future.
GMI: What are the advantages of doing business in Saitama City and what measures are being taken to increase its attractiveness to businesses?
Shimizu: The location of Saitama City provides one of the biggest advantages for businesses. It has easy access to major districts and airports in Japan, making the city more accessible and attractive. As an inland prefecture, we are safer from natural disasters. In fact, the central government has held us up as a model for disaster prevention.
Because of the size of the city, we centered our vision on five aspects: to become a business core by inviting companies to set up their headquarters and main branches here; to expand research and development segments; to become a center of sales and logistics, to target next generation industries, like life sciences and ICT; and to initiate exchanges with foreign companies. We believe these are innovative processes that will reap international business growth in Saitama City.
GMI: How important are international collaborations and foreign direct investments to the city and what are the programs in place to address this?
Shimizu: Foreign direct investments and international collaborations are very important to invigorate the local economy and expand our knowledge on certain techniques. To continue increasing the city’s attractiveness and develop business sustainability, we are improving infrastructure and working with various non-governmental sectors for our short- and long-term goals.
To showcase the city’s advantages in Japan and abroad, we take part in international tradeshows and exhibits and host sports matches and cultural events. Also, the 3rd Biz Saitama, which facilitates investor matching for high growth industries, complements the development of new businesses and provides a platform for networking. We are very excited to once again host this event, which will be held in November 2017
GMI: As mayor, what are your goals for the city in the next few years?
Shimizu: Our main focus is to increase globalization, welcome overseas businesses and tourists, and help them explore the city and experience its beauty firsthand. Simultaneously, this will also encourage locals to explore foreign lands and learn new things.
Through these initiatives, we wish to exchange information about our local products and resources, showcase the attractiveness of the city for business and leisure, become the center of East Japan, and be an indispensible part of an ‘East Japan Golden Route for Tourism’.