Top U.S.-Japan Leaders Encourage Risk Taking and Innovation to Strengthen Bilateral Relationship

WASHINGTON, DC (October 4, 2013) – Top U.S. and Japanese leaders convened in Washington, DC on October 4th to discuss the long-term benefits of taking risks and innovative courses of action, as well as the significance of synergy among the business, government and civil society sectors.

The 2013 U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) Annual Conference, themed “Risk, Reward and Innovation: Opportunities for the U.S. and Japan,” featured four Keynote Speakers from the public and private sectors of both countries.

John Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc., discussed Prudential’s journey to establish a distinctive presence in Japan. “Our Japan story is one of people, relationships and selective risk taking,” he said. “It began with a strategy that was very different from traditional models and emphasized long-term relationships with clients through a well-educated and specialized sales force. This strategy has produced high levels of client satisfaction and strong results.  Prudential is a better company as a result of what we have learned from Japan.”

Hiroaki Nakanishi, President of Hitachi, Ltd., discussed U.S.-Japan industrial cooperation in the fields of energy and the environment. “The best energy policy should be based on a ‘3Es’ approach, which takes ‘Energy Security,’ ‘Environment’ and ‘Economy’ into consideration,” he said. “I believe that the U.S.-Japan alliance can drive the ‘3Es’ approach in a way that achieves global environmental objectives.”

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns spoke about the future of U.S.-Japan relations. “All the elements of our partnership are undergoing a historic transformation. Our security ties are stronger than ever,” he said. “Through Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the region’s economic renewal is poised to accelerate. And the ties between our people are growing more plentiful and more meaningful.”

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine & Director, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, discussed how cooperation between the two countries would help advance the medical field. “As a scientist who manages two laboratories—one in Kyoto and the other in San Francisco—I think that Japan and the U.S. have a rivalry in research,” he said. “At the same time, I believe that both countries need to nurture strong ties to accelerate the speed of research, for the benefit of the many people with intractable diseases around the world.”

One of the highlights of this year’s Conference was the line-up of Japanese American stars as featured speakers. These included celebrities Kristi Yamaguchi, Founder of Always Dream Foundation, Champion Figure Skater and winner of “Dancing with the Stars”; Ryu Goto, International Concert Violinist; and Roy Yamaguchi, Chef & Founder of Roy’s.

The many dimensions of the U.S.-Japan relationship were reflected in the Conference’s ten panel discussions. Topics included “U.S.-Japan Bilateral Relations: New Opportunities,” “Japan’s Presence and Influence in DC” and “Global Citizenship and Preparing Our Youth for Tomorrow.”

The mission of USJC is to build strong people-to-people connections between the U.S. and Japan through the work of its national network of Japanese American leaders. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit, USJC brings together diverse leadership, engages stakeholders in the bi-lateral relationship and explores issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific. For more information about the Council, visit