Four of Japan’s top business leaders will accompany Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on his upcoming trip to the United States to exchange views with their U.S. counterparts, government sources said Monday.
Those likely to join the Obuchi trip include Yotaro Kobayashi, chairman of Fuji Xerox Co. and incoming head of the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai); and Hiroshi Okuda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. and chairman-elect of the Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren).
Mitsubishi Corp. Chairman Minoru Makihara and Sony Corp. President Nobuyuki Idei are also planning to join the mission, the sources said.
Obuchi is scheduled to hold talks with President Bill Clinton on May 3 in Washington, where economic issues are likely to take center stage.
While Obuchi is confident that Japan can attain its goal of 0.5 percent GDP growth for fiscal 1999, Washington remains skeptical and is expected to press the prime minister for additional stimulus measures, the sources said.
Clinton is also likely to take up smoldering bilateral trade disputes in the areas of steel and flat glass, they said.
A Foreign Ministry official said that the presence of business leaders on the trip will demonstrate the administration’s determination to pursue full-scale reforms in the Japanese economy in concert with business circles.
The businessmen will hold talks with their U.S. counterparts as well as political leaders in Washington, and take part in a dinner hosted by Clinton right after his meeting with Obuchi on May 3.
The U.S. trip will be Obuchi’s first since he attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. After arriving in Los Angeles on April 29, Obuchi is slated to visit Chicago and spend three days in Washington, beginning May 2.