The following editorial is written by Tony Webb, Board Chairman of the Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati.
This region has been, and will continue to be, a leading choice of investment of Japanese businesses with close to 150 calling Greater Cincinnati home. The Consulate of Japan in Detroit recently identified 136 Japanese businesses in southwest Ohio alone providing over 16,000 direct jobs. Japan’s presence in the tri-state will remain strong.
Big Market - High Disposable Income
Japan remains the world’s 3rd largest economy at $5 trillion nominal GDP. Its large population, combined with a significant per person disposable income, make the Land of the Rising Sun an attractive business partner. For perspective, Japan and Mexico share nearly the same population but Japan’s disposable income is four times that of Mexico (Bureau of Economic Affairs on PPP basis). Additionally, the World Bank gives Japan a favorable ranking for ease of doing business—reflecting comparatively high rankings for investor protection and contract enforcement.
Challenges Make for Opportunities
While Japan is facing some interesting challenges related to energy and declining population, this creates opportunities for innovation and new partnerships and alliances. Following the moratorium on nuclear energy in the wake of the 3/11 tsumani tragedy, Japan has a strong interest in energy—particularly green energy and natural gas. A small number of U.S. businesses are already on the forefront of this opportunity.
Japan leads the world’s countries as the first to face declining population. Combined with an aging population, this creates real economic challenges for the future. But I assure you, Japan is a resilient nation and up to the challenge. Twenty years ago the savvy U.S. business tracked Wired magazine’s Japanese school girl column for the next big techno gadget.
Remember the tamagatchi craze? Today’s savvy business will watch technology again, focusing on how it services a senior population. An example of this is Paro, the therapeutic robotic seal.
Youkoso - Expect the Door to Open Wider
Japan is actively seeking to keep a strong partnership with its friend and ally the United States. Japan’s current Ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae, has often spoken highly of our shared values, specifically identifying our mutual respect for democracy, intellectual property rights, and integrating the best of the best.
Learn more on June 5 at Merx 2014, the region’s best interactive summit for learning strategies on expanding internationally. The Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati will host a panel featuring experts on navigating culture, legal issues and logistics. Agenda and registration information can be found at www.bit.ly/merx2014.
Photo: Covington skyline from the south/RCN file