The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

recent editorial on US President Donald Trump’s vision to “Make America Great Again” crystallized for me how critical US businesses are as a component of Japan’s economy, and how essential the role that ACCJ members play is to the greatness of both the United States and Japan.

US businesses maintain strong and mutually beneficial partne­rships with Japanese companies, and continue to invest in manufacturing, technology, as well as research and development (R&D)—not to mention intellectual property—that are integral to Japan’s future.

TURNING POINT
It is clear to me that we have reached a critical time if we are to ensure that a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement is reached—not only for US businesses but also for the continued global competitiveness of Japan’s industries and markets. This is a decisive moment if employment is to be sustained in high-skilled growth-area jobs in both economies, and the high-value opportunities being realized through bilateral business partnerships are to be maintained.

This is a message we carried to Washington, DC, in April through our 14-strong delegation that included 10 Japan-based CEOs of US companies. In our meetings with representatives of Congress and the Trump administration, we made it clear that—beyond its commercial importance as a destination market for US exports—Japan is an indispensable US security and geopolitical ally in a vitally important part of the world.

Under Trump’s Indo–Pacific strategy, Japan is a key partner in advancing a range of US interests in the region. Tokyo is collaborating on energy security and efforts to promote US energy exports, promoting quality infrastructure development in emerging economies, and advancing a fair, transparent, and rules-based system for global trade and investment. Strengthening our trade and economic partnership will enable both countries to more strategically engage in the region and expand their influence around shared values.

BUSINESS BENEFITS
The Dow 30, also known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is a parable for how closely the economies are entwined. Its composition reflects the dominant sectors that propel the US economy. And of the 30 companies whose stocks comprise the DJIA, 27 are ACCJ members.

Many have been doing business in Japan for decades and are literally household names here. While some manufacturers have significant plants and an R&D presence in both the United States and Japan, Nasdaq stocks have exp­erienced significant growth in Japan. Those companies employ thousands of Japanese workers and are increasing those numbers. Their growth trajectory continues to be remarkable as the Japanese economy is transformed.

To trace the impact, I turn to my own company, Dow Chemical. Our history here stretches back 67 years—to 1952— when Dow forged its first joint venture outside the United States. Since then, we have expanded and partnered with other top-ranked Japanese players. Today, the 1,500 people at Dow Japan and our affiliated companies are lead­ing the industry in terms of environmental health and safety, corporate social responsibility, and developing sustainable solutions to pressing global challenges that contribute to Dow’s success in the United States and globally. Dow’s deep roots and place at the forefront of growth, innovation, and investment in Japan are key for thousands of Japanese and Americans.

NOW IS THE TIME
In the more than 40 meetings held during the April 1–4 DC Doorknock, it was clear that Japan is reco­gnized in Washington as the most important ally the US has in Asia. The importance of the economic, trade, investment, national security, and military alliances—and many years of friendship—to the success of both countries cannot be overstated.

It is largely as a result of bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, and Japan’s own domestic reform efforts, that US businesses have achieved greater access to the Japan market over the past several decades (notwithstanding some exceptions).

Today, the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pursuing reforms that are yielding further improvements that could help grow the economy to the benefit of all. Now is the time for constructive US–Japan trade negotiations that serve to provide access to the full potential of markets in the world’s second- and third-largest economies. Doing so will help facilitate trade that will bring benefits to consumers in both nations through the growth of innovation, investment, and high-skilled jobs.

I am always keen to hear from our members, on this or any other matter. Write to me with your views at pjennings@accj.or.jp.

The importance of the economic, trade, investment, national security, and military alliances... to the success of both countries cannot be overstated.