The Japanese Priorities for Miami

Japanese businesses have begun looking to Miami for trade and investment

In recent years, Japanese businesses have begun looking to Miami as an area for trade and investment. With a presence in Miami for the past 30 years, the Consulate General of Japan in Miami has played an important role in facilitating increased collaboration between the two regions. A career diplomat, Consul General Kazuhiro Nakai took his post in September 2021. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Ambassador for International Conferences on Security and Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, which included being Chair of the International Convention of Biological Weapons for two years. We sat down with the consul general to discuss his priorities and the relationship between Miami and Japan.

What are some current economic and trade ties between Japan and Miami? And what steps is Japan taking to strengthen these ties?

The economic and business ties are very strong and sound, but I’m convinced that we can further develop it. This is what I’m now working on. Japan is the second-largest import source for Florida, and we always have been a very substantial investor [here]. Japan has also been the largest foreign direct investor in the United States. So why not in Miami? Three years ago, the largest Floridian export to Japan was grapefruit. But this year, they were aerospace, pharmaceuticals, life science, or IT. By focusing on those areas, I’m convinced that we have more chances to further enhance trade and investment. These are the issues that we introduce to Japanese business leaders as an area of development for trade and investment.

What kind of initiatives is the consulate taking to attract Japanese businesses to Miami and vice versa?

In November last year, in Orlando, we organized a large business conference, inviting leaders from Japanese industries and businesses. Before the opening of this conference, we organized the Japan Florida Business Tour 2022 though which we introduced the top-tier investment and emerging business opportunities in Miami to Japanese business leaders in the industries I mentioned. On that Tour, I invited] the participants to the University of Miami to introduce them to the university’s cutting-edge technologies. I also took them to PortMiami to show them that Miami is an important logistics hub and the gateway to trading and investment in Latin America. [And we went] to Hitachi Rail, a Japanese manufacturing company, to introduce them to infrastructure. 

We invited Governor [DeSantis] to Japan on April 24 and 25. Mayor Francis Suarez also visited Japan in February this year. Both leaders have successfully impressed Japanese business leaders with the excellent investment environment in Miami and Florida. We expect two trade missions to Japan. Florida is coming to Japan in October [and] Miami-Dade is sending a mission to Japan in November with Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. 

In which sectors do you see potential cooperation in investment between Florida and Japan?

One of the potential areas [of investment] is the space industry. In Florida, we have seen the emerging space business, and Japan has one of the most developed space programs. We’re working with Space Florida to promote business matching between aerospace companies [in Miami] and Japan. When Governor DeSantis came to Japan, he had a very productive meeting with the President of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.

Are there any plans for a direct flight between Japan and Miami in the future?

This is indeed a priority that I am pursuing. Many people [think] the direct flight between Japan and Miami can be a game changer for investment and trade. It will further enhance our business ties with Miami and give strong momentum to our investments in Latin America and the Caribbean. I have worked with Japan Airlines, which has shown a strong interest. And when I was in Tokyo, I invited Governor DeSantis to visit the chair of Japan Airlines and the governor did an excellent job of elaborating on the huge business potential this direct flight could establish. Mayor Suarez [also] met with them. Japan Airlines is fully aware of the business potential and that people have been very much looking forward to it. The problem is time. Just like other airlines in the world, they are still struggling from the enormous financial loss caused by COVID. So, we have to wait for them to be ready to start something new.

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