Day 1-2 notebook: N.J. East Asia Economic Mission

Approximately five dozen government and economic development officials and business leaders are joining Gov. Phil Murphy on the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission.

The event opened with a delegate dinner after a 15-hour flight that started in the morning Friday in Newark and ended Saturday afternoon in Tokyo.

The first full day in Asia was marked by the signing of the first letter of intent (which involved Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health) and a trip to Hiroshima to visit Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum.

Here’s a roundup:

Where is the governor — and what day/time is it?

If you’re reading this in New Jersey at 5 p.m. Sunday night, it’s 6 a.m. in Tokyo, where the delegation is Monday.

What happened on Day 2 (Sunday in Japan)?

What’s next? Day 3 key events

  • U.S. embassy breakfast
  • Fukui Prefecture sister-state reaffirmation
  • SelectUSA Roundtable (sponsored by GCM Grosvenor) to discuss clean energy
  • Invest in New Jersey seminar (sponsored by Johnson & Johnson) to discuss technology and life sciences
  • Meeting, tour with Prudential Financial

Why are you here? Insights from the delegates

Sacha Patera
Corporate engagement and foundation relations
Princeton University

(Patera arrived in Japan a few days early for additional meetings.)

“At Princeton, corporate engagement is what I do. There’s a lot of opportunity that we are not fully realizing right now with Japanese companies, especially around research. I’m using this trip to initiate and to lay the groundwork, so that, then, we can activate really good relationships with these companies. So far, every meeting has surpassed my expectations. I’m feeling really good about what’s going to come from these meetings. It’s been a delightful experience.

“From a personal standpoint, I’ve never been to Japan. So, this was an exciting opportunity.”

Mei Wei
Vice president for research
Rowan University

(Wei started at Rowan on July 1.)

“International collaborations definitely is one thing that we want to pursue, so the networking with the universities here is great. But we also want to network with the other (New Jersey) universities that are here and see how we can learn from them and work together.

“Personally, I did my postdoc in Kyoto. So, it’s been nice to come back to this area.”

Quote of the day

Aaron Price
TechUnited: New Jersey

At the Hiroshima Peace Park: “Instead of saying, ‘Never forget,’ let’s start asking ourselves, ‘Why do we keep doing such terrible things.’ Think about what’s going on in Israel and in Ukraine. We have to stop what we’re doing to each other.”

Quick economic stat on Japan-New Jersey

Japan is New Jersey’s top greenfield foreign direct investor; bilateral trade between the two countries was worth $8.4 billion in 2021.

Japan also is a leading nation for solar. Nexamp, a solar energy developer, invested $868 million into creating community solar projects in New Jersey.

Quick cultural connection between Japan-New Jersey

New Jersey has the ninth-largest population of Japanese origin and the ninth-largest Japanese-born population in the U.S. Edgewater and Fort Lee are known for their vibrant Japanese communities. Residents can shop at authentic Japanese markets like Mitsuwa in Edgewater and attend cultural events hosted by organizations such as the Japanese-American Society of America, founded in Fort Lee in 1974.

Just for fun

The sushi at the opening night delegate dinner (sponsored by United Airlines) at Happo-En in Minato City, Tokyo, received rave reviews by those who like sushi on the trip (that does not include this reporter).

The smoking appetizer (think a plate of fajitas) caught everyone’s eye. As did the incredible Japanese garden that customers walked through to get to the restaurant.