Governor’ Meeting in Silicon Valley

The Governors of Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Oita, Okayama, Saga and Shizuoka with USJC Leadership in Silicon Valley in July 2014 (Photo courtesy of Kyodo News)

U.S.-Japan Economic Collaboration at the State-Prefecture Level

Monday, July 28 (2:00 – 7:30 pm) at ARRILLAGA Alumni Center, STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Tuesday, July 29 (8:30 am – 6:00 pm) at SHERATON PALO ALTO

In July 2014, as part of the U.S.-Japan Council’s (USJC) Governors’ Circle initiative, USJC and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University convened a Japan Governors’ Meeting in Silicon Valley.  Governors from the six prefectures of Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Oita, Okayama, Saga and Shizuoka each brought a delegation of business leaders and government officials involved in economic cooperation and business development. These governors are interested in the state of California, particularly Silicon Valley, as a leader in the fields of IT, biomedical/healthcare, automobile technology, clean energy and consumer goods.  This event serves as a catalyst for select Japanese prefectures to connect with Silicon Valley’s innovative companies, pilot projects and state-of-the-art technologies across a number of sectors, including technology licensing, market development, manufacturing agreements, cross-investments, joint ventures and strategic partnerships.

Program: July 28, 2014

Click here to see a PDF version of the entire program for July 28.

Plenary Session
Monday, July 28 (2:00 – 5:30pm) at the Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University

2:00 – 2:15 pm Opening Remarks
2:15 – 2:45 pmPresentation by the Director of the International Policy Implementation Lab at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (“FSI”)
2:45 – 4:00 pmGovernors’ Panel Discussion on Prefectures’ Economic Development Targets and Collaboration with Silicon Valley
4:00 – 4:15 pmBreak
4:15 – 5:15 pmKeynote Speech: “The Influence of Stanford University on the Formation and Continued Success of Silicon Valley”
5:15 – 5:30 pmClosing Remarks

Networking Reception & Sake Tasting 
Monday, July 28 (5:30 – 7:30pm) at the Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University

Attendees were invited to sample regional sake from the six prefectures.

General Admission was $65 per person, and for USJC Members, $55 per person

Program: July 29, 2014

Click here to see a PDF version of the entire program for July 29.

The second day of the event consisted of an opening orientation, industry group sessions (with 4 breakout groups: IT, BioMed, Automobile and Consumer Goods) and afternoon presentations.


See photos of the entire Governors’ Meeting here.


More than 200 people attended the Governors’ Meeting, including a 75-person delegation from Japan. This was a rare opportunity for the six governors of Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Oita, Okayama, Saga and Shizuoka to gather in the United States at the same time, and the multi-day event was packed with both theoretical and practical suggestions on state-prefecture collaboration.

The plenary session on Monday, July 28, held at the Arrillaga Alumni Center at Stanford University, opened with remarks by Dr. Daniel Okimoto, Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors and Director Emeritus of Shorenstein APARC, as well as Dr. Takeo Hoshi, USJC Member and Senior Fellow and Director, The Japan Program at APARC. Dr. Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Director and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) and Ms. Elizabeth Gardner, Associate Director for Partnerships and Special Projects, FSI, then spoke about Stanford University and FSI.

The highlight of the two-day event was a panel discussion with all six governors. Prompted by moderator Ms. Emiko Higashi, USJC Member and Managing Director of Tomon Partners, all governors shared their prefectures’ economic strengths and focus points going forward. For example, Gov. Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama expressed interest in observing next-generation vehicle development in Silicon Valley and seeking feedback on Okayama’s progress; Gov. Yasushi Furukawa of Saga, a Friend of the Council, promoted Universal SoundDesign, a company which creates speakers with better sound for those who have difficulty hearing; and Dr. Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka and a Friend of the Council, emphasized his prefecture’s strength in manufacturing, such as innovative optical sensors, and healthy food products like tea.

When Ms. Higashi asked the governors about how they are tackling the issue of an aging population and declining birthrate, responses included: combating diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles and developing robotics to aid the elderly (Gov. Katsusada Hirose of Oita); conducting HR matching for elderly people, and supporting families at all stages of their lives (Gov. Hiroshi Ogawa of Fukuoka); and encouraging paternity leave (Hiroshima, which increased the rate of paternity leave from 1.2% to 7.2% in 3 years; Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki, a Friend of the Council, is the first Japanese governor to take paternity leave). The Q&A session prompted questions from Mr. Glen Fukushima, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and member of the USJC Board of Councilors; Mr. Al Muratsuchi, member of the California State Assembly and USJC Member, and others.

Ms. Yoriko Kishimoto, former mayor of Palo Alto and USJC Member, then introduced the keynote speaker: Mr. Dennis Boyle, Founding Member of IDEO, a design and consulting firm. Mr. Boyle spoke about the influence of Stanford University on the formation and success of Silicon Valley, weaving in the stories of many illustrious Stanford alumni or former students, including William Hewlett, David Packard, Larry Page and Jerry Yang, as well as the professors who guided them. 

Following the plenary session, guests attended a networking reception in the garden of the Alumni Center. Gov. Hirose, USJC Chairman of the Board Tom Iino and USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye gave remarks, and Consul General Masato Watanabe of the Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco delivered a toast. Guests were then invited to taste the sake and other products that each of the prefectures brought. 

For the second day of the Governors’ Meeting, July 29, the Japanese delegation and guests split into four industry groups: IT, automobile, biomedical/healthcare and consumer goods. USJC Member James Higa, Board Member Wally Tsuha, cardiologist Dr. Phillip Yang, Board Member Dennis Teranishi and Member Rona Tison were among the industry experts who led each of the four groups, discussing know-how, current trends and customs in Silicon Valley and the United States.

Following presentations from the Japanese delegation and business-matching sessions, experts like Mr. Kish Rajan, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GOBIZ); Dr. Richard Dasher, Executive Director of the Center for Integrated Systems (CIS) at Stanford University; Ms. Tasha Yorozu, USJC Member and President of the Yorozu Law Group; and Mr. Yoichi Kimura, Executive Director of JETRO San Francisco, spoke to the audience about the logistics of creating companies, opening offices or investing in the United States.

Dr. Okimoto delivered closing remarks that summarized lessons from the two days and his recommendations for next steps. His suggestions included sharing Silicon Valley success stories with the younger generation; establishing courses and programs on entrepreneurship and innovation; conducting regular meetings among the prefectures to educate company executives and their own administrative staff; and gathering resources among the six prefectures to open an office in Silicon Valley.

Other information

Click here to read a blog post by Governor Yasushi Furukawa, Governor of Saga Prefecture, about his experience in Silicon Valley (Japanese only).


This event was made possible by American Airlines; Hitachi, Ltd.; ITO EN (North America) Inc.; and MUFG Union Bank, N.A.