The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

For Japan to further develop economically, there needs to be growth in regions outside the Tokyo metropolis. The External Affairs Committee of the Kansai chapter (Kansai–EAC) of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) aims to help Kansai grow, based on the vision of “One Kansai.”

Japan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) statistics show that 88.5 percent of foreign-owned companies choose to operate in the Tokyo metropolis, with only 6.9 percent going to Kansai, and 4.6 percent to other regions in Japan.

This unbalanced investment trend virtually precludes most areas of Japan from benefitting from FDI, and presents companies that only operate in the Tokyo metropolis with a greater concentration of risks.

The One Kansai vision is laid out in an ACCJ position paper, “Promoting Trade, Investment and Tourism in the Kansai Region Under a ‘One Kansai’ Concept.”

With culturally rich histories, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Wakayama and other areas of Kansai each have distinct identities, and are justifiably proud of their differences.

In the course of their everyday administrative functions, the prefectures and powerful city administrations have yet to fully unite in realizing that from a global perspective, their combined Kansai identity offers many benefits that include collective resources and marketing tools.

In cooperation with ACCJ member companies, the governments of the United States and Japan, together with related agencies, the Kansai–EAC is working to promote the One Kansai vision.

To this end, it encourages companies in metropolitan Tokyo to decentralize, by either moving or shifting certain operations to Kansai, and at the same time works to attract new foreign investment.

We are also promoting cross-border venture capital and exchanges, such as those in the fields of R&D and technology.

Kansai cannot wait for the results of decisions made in Tokyo to trickle down to other regions of Japan. The Kansai–EAC aims to help stimulate business in the Kansai region by working together with other stakeholders in regions outside Tokyo, based on our knowledge of how things work in Kansai.

Currently, we are focusing on the fields of tourism and education. For tourism, we are concentrating on both the macro wave of increased inbound tourism, as well as on outbound tourism, which also contributes to gains in the travel, hospitality, and leisure sectors.

As our kick-off event this year, we hosted Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab at a luncheon sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka. We also co-sponsored a Brand USA event, at which Schwab spoke, at the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe.

We look forward to working on destination-marketing issues with local governments, the 11 hotels in our membership, theme parks, the transportation sector, and travel providers.

Our aim is to further the use of IT to improve the tourism market for all involved.

In the field of education, our goal is to help develop future leaders and foster global talent. We plan to do this by supporting education ventures in the United States, creating more opportunities for cultural exchanges, and giving students greater exposure to global thinking by having our ACCJ members visit classrooms in Japan.

Under the One Kansai vision, we want to help create synergies among Kansai business investment, tourism, and education, while at the same time prioritizing diversity and inclusion in each field.

We have identified these common themes as target areas for development across the region, and we believe they are important to ensure the success of all ACCJ–Kansai members.

The ACCJ Kansai External Affairs Committee is working hard to make the One Kansai concept a reality.



Akio Arthur Matsumoto, is chair of the ACCJ–Kansai External Affairs Committee (EAC) and president of LS7 Corporation. Steve Iwamura is vice-chair of EAC, an ACCJ–Kansai special advisor, and a partner with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.