The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The Wall Street Journal CEO Council is coming to Tokyo this month, marking the first time the annual meeting has been held outside Washington DC.

Renowned for bringing together the world’s most ambitious and influential business leaders to discuss issues that shape our shared future, this year’s event will take place at the Palace Hotel on May 16.

Tokyo’s hosting of the meeting is timely, given the challenges that are facing the region after a sustained period of relative stability. Potential flashpoints exist in trade, security, weapons proliferation, economics, territorial ambitions, and growing nationalism.

Speakers will include: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (subject to parliament’s schedule); Charlene Barshefsky, US trade representative from 1997 to 2001; Kurt M. Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2009 to 2013; and Fan Bao, founder and CEO of investment bank China Renaissance, which has advised on $26 billion in IPOs, mergers, and other deals since 2004.

Also scheduled to speak are: Joseph Chen, chairman and CEO of Renren Inc.; Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA; Yoshiji Nogami, president of the Japan Institute of International Affairs; and Caroline Pan, the former chair of the Entrepreneurship Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Each of the sessions will be moderated by senior Wall Street Journal editors and correspondents.

For its first meeting outside the US, members of the CEO Council will explore how the prospects for globalization, trade, and expansion in business are being altered by sharp and unexpected changes in economic development and voter attitudes.

Delegates attending this year’s event will be addressed by Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, before the first session of the day.

In the opening discussion, Barshefsky and Yongtu Long, China’s vice minister for commerce from 1997 to 2003, will re-examine the agreement that they negotiated in 2001, which enabled China to join the World Trade Organization.

The following session will be led by Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault Group of France and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., who will consider the shape of the company of the future as nationalism gains traction around the world. That, he will emphasize, runs counter to the trend of our immediate past, in which putting disparate companies under unified management has served to bridge borders and cultures.

Campbell and Carlos Gutierrez, former US secretary of commerce, will subsequently look at the ways in which America’s changing role in the world—evidenced by Washington’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—is expected to affect business.

Sessions later in the day will be devoted to the threat of nationalism leading to a regional arms race that disrupts global trade; alternatives to TPP and the implications for free trade in Asia; and the politics of nationalism as a backlash against globalization.

Other presentations will be devoted to technology and innovation in a changing world; how China’s policies of tech nationalism may trigger further trade conflicts; and how Asian tech companies could benefit from copying innovative approaches pioneered in Europe and the United States to be more successful.

Abe (subject to parliament’s schedule) will speak during dinner on the issue of global leadership in the modern era and whether peace can be maintained—and economic growth achieved—at a time of reduced globalization, and will be interviewed by Baker.

The CEO Council, first convened in 2008, comprises heads of companies that collectively employ more than 5 million people and generate more than $2 trillion in annual revenue. They are drawn from 11 countries and operate in a wide cross-section of industries.

Membership of the CEO Council ensures access to the annual meeting, as well as an ever-growing roster of related events across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Further, it provides participants with a formative voice in the evolving global agenda.

Julian Ryall is Tokyo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph
The CEO Council, first convened in 2008, comprises heads of companies that collectively employ more than 5 million people and generate more than $2 trillion in annual revenue.