Japan’s major business lobby reopens U.S office to boost ties

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — The U.S. office of Japan’s most influential business lobby reopened Wednesday after a hiatus of more than six years, and its head pledged to work to prove that the move will help strengthen bilateral economic relations.

“There is a growing, renewed interest in Japan” thanks to the country’s economic recovery and a broad agreement reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative, said Atsushi Yamakoshi, head of the Washington office of the Japan Business Federation, at a ceremony in Washington.

“We must be ready to respond to this interest with a coherent strategy” in cooperation with parties such as Japanese companies and the Japanese Embassy in Washington, Yamakoshi said before some 100 people, including Kurt Tong, principal deputy assistant U.S. secretary of state.

The U.S. office of the lobbying group, known as Keidanren, “can become a platform for the promotion of Japanese business accomplishments, contribution to the U.S. economy and further prosperous U.S-Japan relations,” Yamakoshi added.

Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae said, “We need a good Japanese business presence” in Washington and he was confident that the reopening of the Keidanren office in the capital can play a role.

Keidanren, which has a membership of more than 1,300 major Japanese companies, launched a Washington office in the mid-2000s but closed it in March 2009 as part of the overall restructuring of the Tokyo-based organization, according to the group.