Japanese Business Federation Visit Highlights Importance of Relationships with U.S., California

usa_japan_ca_flags​Earlier this summer, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) led a major mission to the United States with more than 100 CEOs and business executives of major Japanese firms. The mission was divided into three groups and visited 10 states and 14 cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.Keidanren is Japan’s most influential business organization with a membership of 1,330 leading companies, 109 nationwide industrial associations and 47 regional economic organizations.


The mission participants exchanged opinions with federal government senior officials and experts in Washington DC, and shared Keidanren’s views on the Japanese economy and the importance of the Japan-US relationship. In each state visited, the mission delegates met with governors, top state government officials, members of Congress, state legislators, and corporate executives to exchange views on further strengthening Japan-US economic relations, and to encourage continued support for Japanese companies expanding their operations in the US. Through dialogue with branches of the America-Japan Society and other friendship associations in each of the states visited, the mission also promoted shared awareness of the strategic importance of Japan-US relations.

In San Francisco, Susanne Stirling, CalChamber Vice-President for International Affairs joined with Michael Rossi, the Governor’s Senior Advisor for Jobs and Business and Brian Peck, Deputy Director of International Affairs and Business Development of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) to meet with Iwasa Hiromichi, Chairman of the Board of Councilors of Keidanren and accompanying delegation. The meeting was held at the Japanese Consulate General and hosted by the newly appointed Consul General, Jun Yamada.

Key Policy Topics

Key topics of discussion included measures to further strengthen Japan-US economic relations ( i.e. the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP, expanding investment, improving the business environment); economic and political circumstances and expectations of Japanese companies; the current Japanese economic situation via Abenomics and future prospects; responses to global issues (world trade, the global environment, energy), and; Japan-US cooperation. To maintain and further strengthen this excellent relationship in the future, the business community needs to work actively to expand and enhance bilateral economic relations through measures including the promotion of the TPP.


Under the current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, there have been positive effects including a robust trend in employment and record success achieved by many Japanese firms. Abenomics is based upon “three arrows” of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. The Prime Minster visited the U. S. in April, including three days in California where he met with California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and business leaders. During a dinner in San Francisco for the Prime Minister, Governor and First Ladies, also attended by CalChamber Vice-President Susanne Stirling, Prime Minister Abe spoke of the strong ties between California and Japan. The Prime Minister first visited the state as a student. He spoke of the highest number of sister-city relationships anywhere between California and Japan (70 years after the end of WWII) and toasted to deeper relations in the future.


Japan-U.S. relations constitute Japan’s most important bilateral relationship, and the Japan-US alliance plays an essential role in ensuring peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The two countries also have strong economic ties that are growing ever closer: The US is Japan’s second-largest trading partner and top destination for foreign direct investment, while Japan accounted for the largest share of inward direct investment in the US for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014.

According to a report by Keidanren, the number of Japanese companies doing business in California is approximately 1,500. Japan is the number one investor in California with 19.4 percent out of total employment by foreign companies in the state. The employment is approximately 110,000.

California continues to be the top exporting state to Japan, accounting for 18.3% of total US exports. Japan has remained California’s fourth largest export market since 2010, after Mexico, Canada and China. California exports to Japan, the world’s third largest economy, totaled $12.3 billion in 2014. Computers and electronic products accounted for 22.2 percent of total exports. California imports from Japan were $38.3 billion, with transportation equipment accounting for over half of total imports. California is currently the top importing state in the US for products from Japan.

To assist in furthering this relationship, the CalChamber participates in an annual visit and meeting with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California (JCCNC) and the Japan Business Association of Southern California (JBA).

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.