Day 2: Februray 16, 2017
The Kakehashi delegation kicked off with two government meetings, an in-country orientation, and a Japanese tea ceremony.
Our hosts graciously presided over the program’s objectives, emergency contacts, and itinerary to orient our group to the program.
Our first meeting was with the economic bureau in Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With the timely visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Washington D.C. the previous week, the ministry presented us with a joint statement on security and economic cooperation between the two countries since U.S. President Donald Trump took office less than one month ago. What stood out in the bilateral economic relationship was the importance of the United States as one of Japan’s top trade and investment partners. The United States is Japan’s top export destination and receives the greatest foreign direct investment from its U.S. counterparts. Japan has created thousands of jobs in the United States by opening manufacturing facilities throughout the country. In 1986, Japan exported 3.43 million fully assembled cars to the United States and only made 0.43 million in various states. By 2015, Japanese companies assembled 3.85 million cars around the United States and only exported 1.6 million cars. Japanese companies can boost that they are the top job creators in 10 U.S. states and the second top job creators in 8 additional states. Japan hopes to deepen the economic partnership with cooperation in four keys areas 1) U.S. infrastructure on high-speed rails in California, Texas, and along D.C. to New York; 2) energy imports of LNG and crude oil; 3) technology exchange; and 4) global issues of mutual interest. While President Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ministry officials underscored Japan’s interest in working within the multilateral trade bloc so its companies can grow within the regional supply chain.
Next, we met with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Japan imports 61% of its food consumption, compared to the United States that is 100 percent self-sufficient and exports 29% of its food products. The United States is the largest country of origin for Japan’s food products at a 19.6% share. Major U.S. food imports include corn, soybeans, pork, beef, fruits, and wheat. Japan exports scallops, yellowtail, alcohol, sauces/dressing, green tea leaves, and sesame oil to the United States. Under TPP, Japan had five sensitive export food products that were negotiated to be exempt from tariffs, including beef, pork, sugar, dairy, and wheat/barley.
To wrap up the day, our delegation drank tea. In the Japanese tea ceremony, guests join together to create a sense of unity called ‘ichiza konryu’. We gathered in a small tatami room sharing bitter matcha green tea complemented by a sweet fruit to deepen our group’s connection through the shared ritual and enjoyment of tea.
#Kakehashi2016 #JICE #USA #Japan