U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Speaking at the US-Japan Business Conference, November 14, 2013. Image: Flickr user US Chamber.

A “Profitable Partnership”: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Remarks at the US-Japan Business Conference


Amid the excitement of the swearing-in and departure to Tokyo of Caroline Kennedy as America’s newest ambassador to Japan, another celebration of the US-Japan relationship was taking place in Washington at the 50th US-Japan Business Conference. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the conference dinner on November 14, 2013, where he extolled the depth and breadth of the U.S.-Japan alliance from security cooperation to technological innovation, calling special attention to economic ties as a core element of the partnership. “In many ways foreign policy today, more than almost at any time in recent memory… is economic policy, and economy policy is foreign policy,” he explained.

The US-Japan Business Council and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-US Business Council, are associations that support US business interests in Japan, and Japan’s interests in the United States respectively. With members consisting of companies that make large contributions to bilateral economic interaction, among the goals of the organizations are to build and promote a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. The annual conference, held alternately in the US and Japan is an opportunity to bring senior leadership from US and Japanese member firms to discuss business issues and interact with officials in the host government.

Secretary Kerry addressed the gathered business representatives in his remarks. He thanked the American firms invested in Japan for their contributions to a global economic system that in turn supports the domestic economy. The US is Japan’s largest source of foreign direct investment, contributing $134 billion in 2012.

Last year was also a banner year for Japanese investment in America. As the top destination for Japanese investment, the US received $308 billion from Japan, second only to that from the United Kingdom and accounting for 11% of all investment inflows from abroad. In what was a record year for Japanese mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, US transactions accounted for the largest share, 64%. Acknowledging this, Secretary Kerry thanked the Japanese executives present for their contributions and invited them to do more and take advantage of America’s productivity, competitiveness, and recent energy boom.

“To harness the full strength of our alliance, I would respectfully say to you that we need to actually deepen our economic ties, and we need to unlock the full potential for growth in the Asia Pacific,” he remarked to the assembled business leaders. “I think the reality is that the United States and Japan’s ability to create shared prosperity tomorrow rests almost exclusively in what we do to build stronger ties today. And I invite all of you to find ways for your businesses to create these stronger partnerships and move us forward.”

The full text of Secretary Kerry’s speech can be found here.