Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


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Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Remarks by Consul-General Jota Yamamoto
in the Seminar “Japan One Year After”, cosponsored
by JETRO-Houston & the University of Texas
at Austin on February 22, 2012

February 22, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Austin SeminarI thank you Dr. Robert Oppenheim to give me the floor.   It is my honour to cosponsor and join this seminar today and I thank Dr. David Platt, Director of the Centre for International Business Education & Research, McCombs School of Business, the University of Texas at Austin, and Mr. Makoto Kimura, Chief Executive Director, Japan External Trade Organization, JETRO-Houston, for making it possible.

My recent favourite is to fly to Dallas/Fort Worth, sometimes by the exciting Southwest, but it is equally very enjoyable to take the two-hour drive here to Austin.   Indeed, all the Consul-Generals stationed in Houston are very privileged, as we can see everywhere in this enormous State of Texas its prosperity, dynamics and hospitality.

I am sure that as many as 300 Japanese companies are also given attractive business opportunities here in Texas with its rapid increase of population, abundant resources, and availability of  advanced technologies.  The booming industry of shale oil and gas is one example, as billion-dollar investments by big trading names of Japan to join it are well known.  Petrochemical is another example for the Japanese companies to expand their facilities in Texas or shift those from elsewhere to Texas.

I will be back in Houston tomorrow to celebrate the opening of new production line by Toshiba to supply electric motors for green technology vehicles.  In San Antonio, as is appreciated by many, Toyota has kept its entire employed labour force despite the recession in 2009 and despite the supply chain slowdown of the last year following the earthquake in Japan, and rather, it has expanded its factory lines by adding Tacoma.

This city is no exception.  A smart-grid research experiment has been undertaken in Austin, named the Pecan Street Project, with which Sony has collaborated.  The executive director of the Project will very soon come to Japan to attend a seminar and discuss how to apply a smart community to the restoration of the disaster –stricken areas.

Texas is spacious.  Texas is prosperous.  While I love travels by air or by car, I will not be surprised to see the need to broaden options of travel and transportation between the prosperous economic areas in Texas.   I will not be surprised to see a serious discussion in the very near future on the possibility of high-speed railway trains in Texas, and if so desired by the people of Texas and so benefitting the people in Texas, the team of Japanese companies & organizations may help make it possible.

The business environment in Texas is very good.  I will quickly touch on the circumstances for the part of Japan one year after the earthquake.  With enormous support extended by you, to which I must renew my deep appreciation, and with their own painstaking efforts, surely my country and people are restoring the normal life; but how and to what extent?

On nuclear safety, Japan has made substantial progress in addressing the situation and now has brought the troubled nuclear plant to a state of cold shutdown, following a phased plan towards decommissioning.   To ensure the safe use of nuclear power and to restore confidence in the safety of Japanese food and other products, these remain the focus of my Government`s activities, as safety is of top priority.

For recovery and reconstruction from the earthquake, a number of key steps have been taken.   240 billion dollar budget has been allocated, and a series of legislative measures have been enacted steadily, such as setting forth the Reconstruction Agency, reconstruction grants and special reconstruction zones for investment.

Indeed, the earthquake and its aftermath rather sharpened Japan`s determination to secure revitalisation and shared prosperity on a sound basis.  Thus the nation is now given a precious chance to work, beyond a recovery not only from the earthquake, but towards new approaches to address its economic challenges, with a focus on enhancing innovation, cultivating domestic demand, and drawing upon global opportunities.

Thus, it is very timely to have this seminar today.  It also is very pertinent to have the two prominent guests,  Mr. Ambassador, His Excellency Thomas Schieffer and, from Toyota, the Honourable Ray Tanguay.  We are very privileged to have their orientation, which will surely lead us to a convincing interpretation on business and overall circumstances of Japan-American partnership.