To mark 160 years of diplomatic relations with Japan, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April this year as part of a four-nation Asian tour, wherein regional security and increased trade cooperation dominated the agenda. The state visit — the first by an American president in nearly 20 years — started with Obama’s unequivocal commitment on mutual defense cooperation between the two longtime allies.
Both sides also expressed their resolve to finalize a deal under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a far-reaching trade agreement potentially worth around $1.5 trillion in the trade of goods and around $242 billion in services.
The TPP members — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — account for an estimated 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 26 percent of global trade. The TPP figures significantly in Abe’s objective to revitalize Japan’s economy and expand international trade.
“Japan is at a very interesting point wherein it really needs to gear up its externality. What any expatriate or any corporate person can do is to push Japan to look and reach outward,” explained Nikko Asset Management Senior Managing Director Christina Alfandary.
Having the second-largest Japanese population in the country, New York and the U.S. East Coast play an important role in expanding investment.
“With more than 800 Japanese companies generating over 80,000 jobs, the East Coast plays a vital role in the growth of the Japanese business community here in the United States,” said Ambassador Sumio Kusaka, consul-general of Japan in New York.
Japanese investment in the region is currently about 40 percent in manufacturing and 60 percent in services. And with organizations such the Japanese External Trade Organization and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry located in the one of the world’s financial centers, foreign direct investment from Japan is forecast to grow even further over the next few years.
While New York may boast the legacy and infrastructure to remain a preferred destination for investment, the highly cosmopolitan city has also remained attractive for its deeply ingrained can-do spirit.
“New York is a wonderful city that attracts many Japanese because of its ingenuity and opportunity. We are committed to promoting investment and trade between the East Coast and Japan to allow both of them to flourish,” stressed JETRO New York President Kazuhito Sakurai.
Meanwhile, local investment groups, among them The Partnership for New York City, have chosen to support homegrown startups, recognizing that a conducive environment for small business also leads to more international business opportunities.
“New York is a gateway to the Americas for many companies coming out of Asia. We both welcome them and are prepared to assist them,” said Partnership for New York City's President and Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Wylde, who works closely with the JCCI to identify potential investment partners. “We would be happy to hear from Japanese companies interested in setting up in New York in the high-tech startup sector and working with more established companies from the country."
As an offshoot of Japanese investment in manufacturing and trade on the East Coast, several service companies — namely in the banking, accounting and legal fields — have thrived in New York and the tri-state area.
“With more than 800 Japanese companies generating over 80,000 jobs, the East Coast plays a vital role in the growth of the Japanese business community here in the United States”
- Ambassador Sumio Kusaka, consul-general of Japan in New York
“The ability to access critical service organizations is just one of the many advantageous factors that make New York City an ideal businesses domicile,” said ALAC International Chief Operating Officer Alan Frishman.
Alongside the service sector, many well-known Japanese fast-moving consumer goods and chemical companies have also decided to venture halfway around the world very confident their brands will prove popular among discriminating American consumers.
In one of the world’s largest fashion capitals, Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo has already seen positive results in just a few years.
“From a suburban brand, Uniqlo has repositioned itself to the city. Fifth Avenue is among the key Uniqlo flagship stores in the world. Our stores in New York have made Uniqlo a recognizable brand here in the country,” said Uniqlo USA Chief Executive Officer Larry Meyer.