NAGOYA (Kyodo) The public and private sectors in the Nagoya area are stepping up a joint campaign to lure foreign investment as the region attracts global attention by hosting the international Aichi Expo next year.

The campaign, dubbed the “Greater Nagoya Initiative,” or GNI, is similar to the initiative started in 1994 by the Washington, D.C., area in the U.S. to develop advanced technology and foster quality personnel.

Under the “Greater Washington Initiative,” or GWI, investment in high-tech businesses has been expanded, and now people are saying there is Silicon Valley in the west and GWI in the east.

On Oct. 1, when the Nagoya-based Chunichi Dragons clinched their first Central League pennant since 1999, representatives from Japanese and foreign-affiliated enterprises in the Tokai region gathered in a conference room in the city.

The conference was aimed at attracting investment from foreign enterprises that took part in an international symposium the same day sponsored by the Chubu Economic Federation.

No deals were reached at the conference, but Shohei Otaki, GNI executive director and head of the regional economic department at the Chubu Economy and Industry Bureau, said, “It is OK if (the conference) becomes an opportunity.”

The GNI started in April with the Chubu bureau taking the lead.

Twenty-two cities and 10 chambers of commerce and industry from the three Tokai prefectures of Aichi, Gifu and Mie are taking part. Using Greater Nagoya’s unified brand-name goods, the GNI is trying to promote investment from foreign countries.

Nagoya is hot with the Dragons’ victory and Ichiro Suzuki’s U.S. Major League record for hits in a season with 262, breaking George Sisler’s 84-year-old mark on Oct. 3. Ichiro hails from Aichi Prefecture.

“Interest in Ichiro is also high among foreign businessmen,” said an official of a local enterprise hoping for an “Ichiro effect” in inviting foreign enterprises.

Large undertakings are under way in the region.

The Central Japan International Airport will open in February, and the Aichi Expo will start in March.

Taking advantage of the situation, local governments taking part in the GNI will send missions to Europe and the United States. The GNI also plans to invite foreign consular generals stationed in Nagoya to the expo site.

Toyota Motor Corp. and other advanced manufacturers are concentrated in the Nagoya area.

Sharp Corp., a major electronics company, plans to make fresh investments in its factories in Mie and Gifu prefectures to increase electronics parts production.

But some in the local economic community worry that investment and consumption will shrink when the expo finishes.

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