An eventful month in Japan provides a timely reminder that the Asian nation remains a key trading partner for Massachusetts companies.
The most important development was the election of a new Japanese prime minister. Shinzo Abe (right), of the Liberal Democratic Party, ran a successful campaign with a strong nationalist bent. Abe has vowed to make significant changes in economic and foreign policy, including pressuring the Bank of Japan, Japan’s Central Bank, to be aggressive in bringing the country out of its recession. Increased spending on public works is another priority for the new prime minister. Abe is expected to visit the United States in early 2013.
On Sunday, Japan will celebrate the birthday of Emperor Akihito. At a recent ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, Akira Muto, new Consul General of Japan to Boston, welcomed business and government leaders to a reception honoring the emperor’s birthday. Muto committed to strengthening cultural, educational and commercial ties between the Massachusetts and Japan. He cited the gift in April 2012, from Japan to Boston, of cherry trees to commemorate the centennial of the famous 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington DC.
Massachusetts businesses are finding that trade with Japan has never been easier. Long a business center for technology and finance, Japan continues to offer attractive collaborative opportunities and markets for Massachusetts manufacturers and services firms.
More than 100 Japanese companies have operations in New England, including Japanese-owned Takeda-Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Madico Inc. in Woburn, and tiny biotech company Human Metabolome Technologies, just setting up operations this month in Cambridge. With the recent inauguration of daily direct air service between Boston to Tokyo, travel between the two cities is timely and cost-effective. Japan Airlines uses the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the Tokyo flights, which have been operating at near-full capacity since June.