• Kyodo News


A private foundation commemorating the late Eiichi Shibusawa, a leading industrialist in the early 20th century, is inviting businesspeople to join a “centenary mission” it plans to send to the United States this year to retrace the footsteps of a trade mission by Shibusawa in 1909.

“We hope that the businessmen will learn about the boundless entrepreneurial spirit (of Shibusawa’s mission) 100 years ago and create networks with the next generation of U.S. leaders,” an official at the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation said.

The foundation is inviting businessmen and women aged 49 or younger who run corporations and are able to engage in debates in English to apply for the program by May 31.

It will choose six to seven people in June for the mission, which will visit Washington, New York and Seattle for eight days in November.

They will meet U.S. political and business leaders. The foundation will shoulder half the travel costs.

Shibusawa, who lived from 1840 to 1931, was a leading figure in the development of modern Japan.

He founded some 500 enterprises and economic organizations, including a group that later became the Tokyo bankers’ association and corporations that subsequently evolved into major enterprises across a wide range of sectors, from shipping and papermaking to railways.

In September 1909, he led a three-month, 51-member business and economic mission to the United States to meet leaders, including President William Taft and inventor Thomas Edison.

Relations between Japan and the United States were strained at the time due partly to a growing movement opposing Japanese immigration.

One of the purposes of the Shibusawa mission was to create dialogue between the two countries.

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