The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Tackling the Summit: Sherpas Wanted

By Andrew Wylegala

“America is open for business!”

These five words drive the job creation and growth strategy backed by US President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who highlighted the message in her October visit to Japan: “Our job … is to open doors, nurture connections between American and Japanese businesses, and encourage investment in one another’s communities.”

Sometimes, this means leading a long “hike.” Pritzker urged Keidanren leaders to invite Japanese firms to explore investing in the United States by attending the 2015 SelectUSA Summit on March 23–24 near Washington, D.C.

With a projected 2,500 participants, the 2015 summit will be double the size of the 2013 inaugural event, which featured the president and four cabinet members. This event uniquely links top investors with high-level panelists and representatives of virtually all states and localities who are eager to facilitate inbound investment.

New this year will be a pre-conference primer geared toward novice investors.

Last year’s Japan delegation was the second-largest contingency in attendance, and we’d like to see it, too, doubled. Comprising investments worth a cumulative $344 billion as of 2013, Japanese companies are reaping the benefits of America’s business environment and resurgent market.

In 2013, Japan was the world’s top investor in the United States. Here’s how you can participate in this year’s summit, a vital element of US–Japan economic integration.

Serve as a Sherpa: Tell us what niches or companies are hot for foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan. What are the drivers—and the barriers—to bringing more FDI into the United States? Who might be announcing a noteworthy investment this spring? Who would make a great speaker?

Recruit Japanese summiteers: Leaders from all sectors are sought. As a twist on the quote from the Statue of Liberty: “Send us your mired, your entrepreneur, your huddled masses yearning to teethe tax-free.”

Join us: Last year’s delegation included American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Globalization and Labor Diversity Committee Chair Bryan Norton—a US entrepreneur who leveraged his Japan-based company to invest back home. On, on!

Co-host at Base Camp D.C.: Last year ACCJ member Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LP got the Japan delegation off to a rousing start by hosting a reception with senior US officials. Volunteers?

Get us beyond the beltway: We want to scale more mountains by offering spin-offs from the summit to regions attractive to specific industries such as healthcare, energy, or agro-industry. As ACCJ scouts are not bound by “geographic neutrality”—as we are at Commercial Service–Japan—you can pick the peaks for us.

Companies seeking trail maps and those ready to apply should visit or contact our summit coordinator at

Making Inn-roads
Japan’s Toyoko Inn was at an impasse. The no-frills hotel chain had invested in land in Chicago, New York, and Atlanta, but visa complications prevented progress.

As the firm started shifting its overseas expansion away from the United States, it learned of the 2013 SelectUSA Summit and decided to join, hoping to find a solution. President Barack Obama’s attendance confirmed for Toyoko that the entire US government is serious about facilitating FDI.

The summit also expedited access to officials who helped resolve the hotel’s issues, qualifying the case as our first investment success story for Japan. Work will begin this winter at three sites, creating work for 340 people besides construction jobs.

Toyoko Inn plans to develop a nationwide hotel chain, creating hundreds, if not thousands, of employment opportunities.



Andrew Wylegala is the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of the United States Tokyo.