Diplomatic Bluebook 2019

Chapter 3

Japan's Foreign Policy to Promote National and Global Interests

3 Support for Japanese Companies' Overseas Business Expansion in Promoting Public and Private Partnerships

(1) Promotion of Japanese Companies' Overseas Business Expansion by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Accompanying Diplomatic Missions Overseas

The number of branches for Japanese companies holding overseas branches has increased in recent years, reaching 75,5317 as of October 2017. One of the reasons behind this is that many Japanese companies, which underpin the economic development of Japan, have embarked more actively than ever before on expansion overseas, with the aim of further cultivating foreign markets. To incorporate vigorous economic growth abroad, mainly in Asia, into the Japanese economy, support for Japanese companies by the Government has become more important.

In light of this situation, MOFA is actively engaged, alongside the diplomatic missions overseas, in supporting Japanese companies in their efforts to expand their businesses overseas. At the diplomatic missions overseas, all staff, including those responsible for Japanese business support, provide Japanese companies with information, and lobby foreign governments under the leadership of ambassadors and consuls-general, with the aim of providing meticulous and specific support that corresponds with the conditions in the respective regions, and under the motto of being an “open and responsive government office.” They also offer information through seminars and consultations, etc. about local legal systems. In FY2018, these were provided at 18 diplomatic missions in 11 countries, with a focus on Asia.

Among the activities implemented at diplomatic missions overseas, in addition to consultations about business problems, the promotion and publicity of the “Japan Brand” for products, technologies, services, and agricultural, forestry, and fishery products by Japanese companies at receptions to celebrate the Emperor's birthday and various other events and exhibitions, also forms an important part of their support for Japanese companies. They actively offer the embassies and official residences of the Ambassadors as publicity and advertising spaces for Japanese companies to hold product exhibitions or local governments to hold local products exhibitions and food-tasting events, as spaces for conducting seminars on business expansion, and as spaces for exchanges with local companies and the relevant organizations. A wide range of publicity activities are being implemented, from countries that already have a strong affinity with Japan, to countries that have not had much contact with Japan until now.

From the perspective of public-private cooperation and support for companies, it is important not only to support Japanese businesses which are seeking to expand their businesses overseas, but also to support those which already have business interests overseas. In June 2016, the UK held a national referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU, and on March 29, 2019, Britain was to leave the EU. As actions taken by the UK and the EU and the results of their negotiations could have a significant impact on Japanese businesses and the global economy, the Government of Japan launched the Government Task-force regarding the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU8, chaired by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, in July 2016. Information was consolidated across all sectors of the government, and Japan's message to the UK and the EU9 was summarized at the third meeting of the Task-force, and efforts have been made to urge the UK and the EU to work on the issue. The Task-force has held 12 meetings so far and in May 2018 conducted an exchange of views, based on the withdrawal negotiations between the UK and the EU, between business people associated with the food, pharmaceutical, electrical and electronic, automotive, railway, nuclear power, telecommunication, finance, and information industries.

  • 7 MOFA “The Statistics on the Japanese Nationals Residing Overseas”
  • 8 The Government Task Force regarding the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, chaired by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda, was established in July 2016. It compiled concerns and requests of the business community, especially Japanese businesses operating in Europe, through the relevant Ministries and Agencies (the Cabinet Office, Financial Services Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and the Personal Information Protection Commission Secretariat). 11 meetings (including opinion exchanges with businesses) have so far been held (the 1st meeting was held on July 27, 2016, the 2nd on August 18, the 3rd on September 2, the 4th on January 19, 2017, the 5th on March 30, the 6th on August 28, the 7th on December 18, the 8th on March 26, 2018, and opinion exchanges with businesses on May 29, the 9th on September 12, and the 10th on November 26).
  • 9 The main points of Japan's message to the UK and the EU are as follows: (1) Japan expects to continue cooperating and collaborating closely for the peace, stability and prosperity of the UK, the EU and the international community, (2) Japan expects the maintenance of an open Europe with its free trade system, and an agreement in principle on the Japan-EU EPA during the year, (3) Japan requests securing of predictability in the Brexit negotiations through an uninterrupted and transparent process, (4) Japan requests the UK and the EU to heed the voices of Japanese businesses to the fullest extent and to do their utmost to cooperate in taking the necessary measures, and (5) Japan would like to cooperate with the UK and the EU so that the process of negotiations for the UK's withdrawal will not cause a major disturbance to the world economy.

(2) Promotion of Overseas Business Expansion of Japanese Infrastructure System

In order to respond to infrastructure demands mainly in emerging countries and promote infrastructure exports by Japanese companies, a “Ministerial Meeting on Strategy relating to Infrastructure Export and Economic Cooperation,” consisting of relevant cabinet ministers with the Chief Cabinet Secretary serving as chair, was established in 2013 and a total of 41 meetings have been held (as of February 2019). In addition to discussions on the revisions to and follow-ups of the annual “Strategy for Exporting Infrastructure Systems,” discussions are also held on issues in the respective fields as well as issues in specific regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus and soft infrastructure (35th meeting) and disaster prevention (40th meeting).

The first edition of the Infrastructure System Export Strategy was drawn up in May 2013, and the revised edition for 2018, in addition to strengthening the competitiveness of Japanese companies, taking into account international contributions from quality infrastructure, further expanding business investment, etc., sets out guidelines to promote specific policies based on the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” under the four pillars of (1) strengthening the competitiveness between public and private sectors, (2) international contributions by promoting quality infrastructure, (3) expansion of infrastructure investment utilizing Japanese technology and knowledge, and (4) efforts for a wide range of infrastructure.

Japan has also been driving forward the dynamic development of trade promotion by the Government, and systemic improvements aimed at the strategic use of ODA loans and overseas loans and investments, and has steadily produced results. As a result, at the Japan-Ecuador Summit Meeting in September 2018, the Inter-American Development Bank exchanged a letter regarding loan aid assistance for a total amount of up to 70 million US dollars to promote energy savings and expansion and enhancement of the power distribution network in Ecuador. In addition, at the Japan-India Summit Meeting in October, with both leaders present, results have steadily been achieved, such as a high-speed railway construction project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad (second phase) and six others, and an exchange of letters for an ODA loan of a total amount of up to 310 billion yen.

Furthermore, with regard to diplomatic missions overseas, MOFA has appointed “officers in charge of Infrastructure Projects,” who gather and consolidate information on infrastructure projects, in the diplomatic missions overseas in countries of focus (192 personnel, at 94 diplomatic missions overseas in 73 countries as of the end of February 2019). This initiative has also proven to produce results.

(3) Promotion of the Export of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Food

The Government of Japan has set a goal of expanding the value of the export of Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products and food to 1 trillion yen by 2019 (“Economic Measures for Realizing Investment for the Future” (Cabinet decision, August 2016)). MOFA, in collaboration with relevant ministries and agencies, Japanese companies, local governments, etc., and by utilizing the function and facilities of diplomatic missions, unique connections, etc. all over the world, is energetically promoting the attractiveness of Japanese products. In particular, Japanese business support officers (in charge of the food industry) have been assigned to 58 diplomatic missions overseas in 54 countries and regions to strengthen initiatives to promote the export of agricultural, forestry and fishery products and food.

Although eight years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, some countries and regions have continued to place import restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products and food. MOFA is requesting these countries and regions to consider the abolition of import restrictions as soon as possible based on scientific evidence, by providing them with timely and accurate information and using WTO frameworks in collaboration with the relevant ministries and agencies. MOFA is also working hard to disseminate information about the safety of Japanese food products in countries and regions around the world, with the aim of dispelling harmful rumors about Japanese agricultural, forestry, and fishery products as well as food products.

As a result of these efforts, import restrictions were lifted in Turkey (February), New Caledonia (French overseas territory) (July), and Brazil (August) in 2018. So far, 29 countries and regions have removed their import restrictions (Canada, Myanmar, Serbia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Guinea, New Zealand, Colombia, Malaysia, Ecuador, Viet Nam, Iraq, Australia, Thailand, Bolivia, India, Kuwait, Nepal, Iran, Mauritius, Qatar, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and the three countries/territory mentioned above). In addition, restrictions were eased in 2018 by the U.S., Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, and the number of regions and items subject to import restrictions are on the decline (as of the end of November 2018).

MOFA will continue persistent efforts, collaborating with relevant ministries and agencies, etc., to urge countries and regions which maintain their import restrictions to remove restrictions as soon as possible and to dispel reputational damage, by taking every opportunity to work persistently and disseminate information.