Eleventh Business Advisory Board Discusses Changes in U.S. Political Landscape

Dr. Okimoto meets with members of the audience during the networking session

The 11th U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on September 7, welcoming Dr. Daniel I. Okimoto, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, Co-Chair of the Silicon Valley Japan Platform and inaugural Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, as the featured speaker.

Member of the USJC Board of Directors, Scott Sato, opened the event by welcoming BAB members and USJC members. This was followed by remarks from BAB Chairman Masaaki Tanaka, who is also Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors. USJC Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Laura Winthrop Abbot, shared information on the 2017 Annual Conference and other activities.

As is customary for BAB, a few special guests introduced themselves prior to the keynote speech, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB membership. Mr. Randall Chafetz, Managing Executive Officer, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.; Mr. Kenji Goto, Executive Officer, Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.; Ms. Yumi Yamaguchi, President & CEO of Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute; Ms. Junko Watanabe, Partner & Board Member, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC, were among those who briefly discussed their career as well as their role in U.S.-Japan relations.

Council Leader Yumi Yamaguchi was one of the distinguished guests

Dr. Okimoto’s keynote speech, titled “The Donald Trump Presidency,” addressed the crucial and fundamental challenges that the United States faces today. He noted that the United States has experienced downward social mobility with many social issues, such as obesity, opioid addiction and rising mortality rates. Despite living in one of the richest nations in the world, U.S. citizens suffer from lack of health care. There has been a widening gap between the richest and the poor since 1980. On top of that, the influence over states by large corporations and businesses has led to inequality and inefficiency. The decrease in manufacturing is causing anger, and international trade agreements and immigrants are being blamed for the lack of jobs. A more equitable income distribution is needed, as well as open, fact-based dialogue for the collective, national good.

Dr. Okimoto’s keynote speech addressed the current political changes in the United States

Dr. Okimoto continued that in terms of U.S.-Japan relations, President Trump and Prime Minister Abe share cordial relations, and the structure of bilateral interdependence is perhaps the sturdiest in the world. Japan’s gravest concerns are President Trump’s policy on China and North Korea. North Korea will be a challenge for President Trump, and how he handles this issue will determine his legacy. The speech concluded that the strength and resilience of American democratic institutions are being tested, but that the United States is capable of rebounding from confusion.

After his speech, Dr. Okimoto met with the attendees alongside Ms. Michiko Okimoto (also a Council Leader) and answered countless individual questions. The attendees then enjoyed networking over food and drinks.

Mr. Scott Sato meets with guests during the networking session

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