The view from Japan’s consulate

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
DSC_0091After four years as consul-general of Japan in Auckland, the bustling business capital of New Zealand, 58-year-old Takamichi Okabe landed in Portland in September to start a similar assignment here in Oregon. By the time we sat down with him in October to talk about the importance of the relationship between his home country and Oregon, he had already met Gov. Ted Kulongoski, given Portland Mayor Sam Adams some advice for a trade mission to Japan and been mushroom hunting on Mt. Hood.

Q Welcome to Oregon. Thoughts so far?

A I can understand why there are so many people attracted to Oregon because of the lifestyle here. To my excitement, just some weeks ago, Japanese-American people here kindly invited my wife and me to go matsutake mushroom hunting at the foot of Mt. Hood. Unfortunately I could not find a single matsutake, but my heart was filled with happiness and gratitude to them.

Q What is your primary focus?

A Our main duties are wide ranging, and include political, economic, cultural and consular matters. In short, our offices are a mini embassy rather than a mere consulate office, and our ultimate goal is to make the relationship between Japan and this state much closer in every aspect.

Q Who have you been working with so far?

A The state government and the Portland city government are quite serious about developing bilateral ties with Japan. We are closely collaborating with these governments for better ties with Japan. In mid October, the mayor of Portland and his team headed for Japan seeking a new area of investment and collaborative relationships. We are prepared to collaborate with anybody who is seeking better ties with Japan. I wish to meet people — anyone who wants to see me. I want to learn from as many people in this state as I can. That is my job.

Q What are the strong points of Oregon and Japan’s business relationship?

A Oregon has become an important export base of agricultural products like grains to Japan. Many major Japanese trading houses own gigantic grain elevators in this state. Since the 1980s, Japanese IT-related companies have made forays into the U.S. market and established manufacturing bases here. Some companies succeeded, and some others withdrew after intense competition with American IT companies.

Q Any emerging areas?

A The new focus is on clean and green industries. Japanese eco-businesses, like solar panels or EV [electric vehicle] makers are attracted to this state, thanks to the strong and innovative initiatives of the state and the municipal governments. I am happy to know that Oregon is one of the most advanced states in the whole U.S. in terms of ecological awareness. These are exactly the fields Japanese industry has a strong competitive edge in and can contribute to the future U.S. economy. We think it’s important for our office to play a catalytic role to encourage such mutually beneficial trends.

JON BELL
 

More Articles

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...

Raising the Stakes

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.


Read more...

Which Way to Chinatown?

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

The Jade International District, already Portland's center of Asian life, is poised for rejuvenation. Where does that leave the westside's historic Chinatown?


Read more...

The Human Factor

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Matt French opens up South Waterfront.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

5 companies react to lower fuel prices

The Latest
Thursday, January 15, 2015
thumb-shutterstock 233787049BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Consumers love the savings they get from low oil prices, but how has business been affected?


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS