in U.S., Talk on Japan
Four Delegates Bring the Latest from Japan
• A delegation for the “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan”
program visited Chicago and made a presentation on October 2 at the official
residence of Consul General Naoki Ito in Evanston. The program, organized
by the Government of Japan, provides American people with contemporary
states of Japan through Japanese people in various fields.
• This year, the delegation was led by former Ambassador Shotaro Oshima,
who had served as Japan’s Permanent Representative to the WTO; other members
were Mitsuko Takahashi, who spoke about women’s struggle in the male-dominated
society of Japan; Rick Liu, who narrated about the society of Japan through
foreigner’s eyes; and Rie Sato, who told a story of kimono tradition.
• Shotaro Oshima, former Ambassador to the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea, diplomat in Thailand, the U.S.,
Israel, and Russia, spoke about a brief overview of Japan-US relations.
• For more than 70 years, the Japan-U.S. alliance has
worked on cooperation regarding diplomacy, defense, business, and culture.
The alliance has been a cornerstone of the stability and peace in the
East Asia region.
• Most recently, Japan has cooperated closely with the U.S. on North Korea
to reach peaceful resolution toward security situations through denuclearization.
Oshima said, “Japan has strongly supported Trump, and his efforts were
• Regarding economics, Japan and the U.S. are both global
leaders and together account for 30 % of global GDP.
• Japan is one of the largest investors in the U.S., and Japanese companies
employ almost a million people across the U.S.
• In the Midwest, Japanese companies have established about 2,400 investment
sites across the region, Ohio to Nebraska, and employ 268,000 Americans.
• With recent debates on the trade deficit in the U.S.,
Oshima pointed out that it was important to see the trade balance which
did not reflect a whole picture.
• These years, manufacturers have established global supply chains and
built value chains; thus, the U.S. imports many products from other countries.
The highest parts of production are mostly done in the U.S.; on the other
hand, lower parts of production are done elsewhere. With these advanced
technologies, American companies have multiple imports from across the
• Oshima said that this is the reason why Japanese companies
wished to invest in the U.S. and work with local companies to build supply
chains. Japanese manufacturing companies based in the U.S. export $75.7
billion of goods to foreign countries.
• Osima emphasized not just seeing Japan’s exports to the U.S. “The Japanese
companies invested here are also contributing to the U.S. exports abroad.
So look at the whole picture,” he said.
• Oshima also mentioned about infringements of Japanese
and American intellectual property in the East European markets and stressed
the importance to build markets based on mutual beneficial relationship
in order to have fair competition.
• Lastly, Oshima talked about the world trends toward
• Japan and EU concluded FTA last July, and TPP 11 (The Trans-Pacific
Partnership 11), now called CPTPP (The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement
for Trans-Pacific Partnership), which is coming into effect without U.S.
presence. Japan still hopes for the U.S.’s participation in CPTPP.
• At the end of his speech, he said, “Of course the Japan-US
relationship is not really about diplomacy and trade, more than anything
else. Today’s event is an opportunity for people of Japan and the U.S.
to engage in heart to heart dialogues and establish friendships.”
• Mitsuko Takahashi spoke about Japanese women’s struggles
in the male dominated society and her own experiences.
• Takahashi entered UPS Japan, and when her American boss promoted her
to a management position, a Japanese male objected to her promotion, saying
to the American boss that she wouldn’t be happy with her promotion because
she preferred to be given directions by men. It was about 30 years ago
when female employees served tea to male employees without questions,
were willing to take instruction from men, and had no desire to speak
up. Such women’s attitude continued until recent years.
• Takahashi obtained an MBA degree in 2007 and spent more than 10 years
living abroad including India, France, and Russia. She later worked in
Boeing Japan as a communications manager and left the company in 2014
to participate in a national project to teach Japanese language and culture
in Thailand. In 2015 she established her own company to help Japanese
small and medium-size companies go abroad.
• Takahashi said that Japan was still the male dominated society, “But
I clearly see changes in social institutions. The future is female.” She
pointed out that Japanese women were educated, spoke two or multiple foreign
languages, and were strong at IT literacy.
• She said, “I anticipate that within a decade or so, you may deal with
many Japanese companies run by women.”
• Rick Liu was born in Taiwan and grew up in Vancouver,
Canada. In 2011 he attended the Graduate school of Public Policy at the
University of Tokyo. After graduation from school, he has worked in a
bank and continues to live in Tokyo.
• Liu said that Japan has been stereotyped as anti-foreigner and anti-multiculturalism;
however, Japan has been slowly changing to a melting pot of culture, and
its people have been supportive to foreigners in daily life.
• He said, “There are areas, which Japan needs to change, yet through
my experiences, Japan is more accepting of foreigners than before. Many
of you choose to visit Japan or even better, to come to Japan to live
and work there like me.”
• Rie Sato just graduated from Keio University. During
her school days, she had an opportunity to join an exchange program, which
enabled her one-year stay in Sydney, Australia. She was involved in numerous
exchange events, so she wore a kimono and attended the events.
• At the podium, she was wearing a kimono. She said that the kimono was
passed on from her grandmother to her mother, then to her. “The kimono
is passed down from a generation to a generation. It’s a kind of a time
capsule, which keeps family memories.”
• She invited the audience to Japan, saying, “What would happen when you
come to Japan and try on kimono, you would feel connection with kimono’s
rich history, get different persona of thousands of years ago and step
into a different world.”