US Ambassador Meets with 3 Kansai Governors, Voices Support for Attracting G8 Summit
Feb. 9, 2006
US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer met with the governors of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures in Osaka City on Feb. 8. The three governors asked for the ambassador’s understanding of their bid to lure the 2008 G8 Summit meeting, and the diplomat voiced his support for the effort, saying, “I understand that Kansai is working to bring the summit, and I want them to do their best.”
Governors Fusae Ota of Osaka, Keiji Yamada of Kyoto, and Toshizo Ido of Hyogo attended the meeting. Schieffer pointed out that 80% of American federal direct investment in Japan is concentrated in Tokyo. He went on to call for the creation of an arrangement for exchange [between Kansai and the US], saying, “I’d like you to create centers in Kansai where information from JETRO (Japan EXternal Trade Organization) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan can be easily obtained.”
Talk about structural barriers. 80%! Greater Kansai is a huge metropolitan area rivaling Tokyo (and Osaka, for its part, is an overwhelming destination for inward FDI in Japan), but in my own completely unfounded opinion, the Kansai region outside of Osaka City gets so little FDI love from the US for a few reasons: a) Americans see Japan outside of Tokyo as a kind of netherworld; b) Domestic investment is also heavily skewed toward Tokyo, meaning that foreign companies’ business partners/clients are also there; c) The government is all in Tokyo; d) Relative lack of support infrastructure (international schools etc)/smaller expat communities in Kansai; and e) Prolongued economic malaise.