U.S. envoy touts Kansai

by Eric Johnston

OSAKA — The Kansai region should not remain a well-kept secret but ought instead to promote itself as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, the U.S. ambassador to APEC said Wednesday.

Speaking at a U.S.-Japan investment seminar in Osaka, Patricia Haslach said the Kansai region offers three distinct competitive advantages to U.S. firms looking to invest in Japan.

“Kansai has a robust distribution network, especially now that Kansai airport is Japan’s only 24-hour airport with two complete runways,” Haslach said. “The region also has many small and medium-size enterprises that specialize in unique high technologies. Finally, Kansai is the heart of Japan’s nonautomotive manufacturing industries.”

Over the past decade, Kansai’s trade with the United States has seen mixed results.

In 2006, regional exports to the U.S. totaled ¥2.4 trillion, up from ¥2.3 trillion in 1997. Imports to Kansai from the U.S. amounted to ¥1.1 trillion last year, down from ¥1.4 trillion in 1997 but up from about ¥930 billion in 2003.

Kanae Yamamoto, the parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, said Japan has a goal to further increase foreign direct investment to 5 percent of total GDP.