Mission notebook, Day 3: Meetings (one with Sony CEO) rule the day

TOKYO — Gov. Phil Murphy’s wish to meet with a lot of top leaders during the 2023 East Asia Economic Mission came true Monday when he had a short, private meeting with the Sony Group CEO, one of nearly a dozen meetings Murphy had on the first full day of business.

Details of the discussion were not released, but insiders said Murphy and Sony’s Kenichiro Yoshida discussed the state’s large interest — and growing infrastructure — in the film and television business. (Duh.) The state is all-in on film production, something it hopes to promote more now that the Hollywood writers strike is over.

And, while a meeting with Yoshida may have been tops for the day, it will not be tops for his stay in Japan. Murphy is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday — before the delegation heads off to South Korea.

Here’s the roundup of the day.

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

If you’re reading this in New Jersey at 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon, it’s 3 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo, where the delegation remains — at least for the day. The delegation heads to South Korea Tuesday night.

What happened on Day 3 (Monday in Japan)?

  • Murphy signed a sister-state reaffirmation with Fukui Prefecture Lt. Gov. Yasuhiro Nakamura. New Jersey first signed a deal with Fukui Prefecture in 1990 — but the state’s relationship with Japan goes back to the 1860s, when a Kusakabe Taro (from Fukui) became the first student who befriended William Elliot Griffis at Rutgers. (It’s a “Brian’s Song”-type story that ends with Taro’s premature passing right before graduation.) The friendship is credited for starting a surge in Japanese students in the U.S.
  • Delegates were briefed on the current status of Japan, being told, among other things, that the Japanese economy is starting to show life again, Japanese students have little interest in attending college in the U.S. — and Japan has big interest in investing in and researching clean energy alternatives. (By the way, we asked — the silly stories about offshore wind hurting sea creatures have not reached these shores.)
  • Murphy was lauded by Rahm Emanuel (an old friend of Murphy’s who is the ambassador to Japan) in a meeting with key Japanese countries eager to hear more about the U.S.
  • Murphy met privately with the chair of the Japan External Trade Organization (It’s called JETRO and it’s the equivalent of Choose New Jersey) and then publicly at an event that features company leaders from both countries. (Interestingly, the meeting was held in the building where Murphy worked when he was stationed in Japan while working for Goldman Sachs.)
  • Rutgers and CMIC CMO USA signed a memo of understanding to establish a center of excellence in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing at CMIC’s Cranbury location. The agreement will mean hundreds of jobs coming to New Jersey.
  • The delegates and state officials were given a presentation at Prudential about issues — good and bad — that accompany an aging population crisis (called the Silver Tsunami). Japan will soon have more retired workers than active workers.

What’s next: Key events for Day 4 (Tuesday)

  • Toyota will hold an advanced manufacturing and food/beverage event;
  • Rowan University will sign a MOU with Sekisui Chemical and Shibaura Institute of Technology;
  • Tammy Murphy will deliver a speech at Japan Women’s University;
  • Delegation will fly to South Korea.

Why are you here? Insights from the delegates

Call it a two-for from CGI …

Michael Reagan
Senior vice president

“It’s part building relationships with the Governor’s Office and his staff as well as potential opportunities with the delegates. And, as we do some of these Select USA opportunities, it’s meeting potential companies that are coming to New Jersey, and CGI can be on the ground floor of them, helping them build out their operation in New Jersey as their computer technology partner.”

Sean Kennedy
Director, New Jersey Consulting Services

“It’s an honor to be part of Gov. Murphy’s delegation to Asia. Being able to play a small role in helping to attract new business to New Jersey is a special thing. Truly appreciate everything that the governor, first lady, (Choose New Jersey CEO) Wes Mathews and the Choose New Jersey team, (Economic Development Authority CEO) Tim Sullivan and the other leaders on this trip do for our state.

“There is also immense value in being a part of the delegation, because the governor attracts such an amazing group of business and academic leaders that it really makes it easy to build and solidify relationships with key leaders and decision-makers.”

Quotes of the day

“I might use this tonight.” — Murphy, after receiving a beer mug as present from Fukui Prefecture Lt. Gov. Yasuhiro Nakamura

“In Japan, it’s illegal to beep your horn without a good reason.” — an Uber driver … who was unable to come up with a good reason (the streets of Tokyo are eerily quiet).

Quick economic stat on Japan

There are 2000 trillion yen ($13 trillion USD) of individual assets held in the bank as deposits. And 80% of the wealth in Japan is held by people over 50, who are not looking to spend or actively invest. The situation is so top-heavy (and so prevents investing) that the government is trying to find ways to incentivize its growing older population to gift money to the younger generation.

Top imports from Japan to N.J. area

3. New York Mets: Kodai Senga (12 wins in first season)
2. New York Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (Why did they let him go back?)
1. New York Yankees: Hideki Matsui (World Series MVP)

Good eats

What does any respectable foodie want in Japan … Chinese food? It sure seemed like an odd event, culturally, but the food at Yaumei was terrific. (Guess it’s no different than getting Mexican food in the U.S.)

Quite the dinner party

Murphy and the first lady were part of an impressive dinner party, joining Hillary Clinton at an event hosted by Emanuel.

And finally …

Many of the men in the delegation committed a fashion faux pas when they decided to wear anything but the seemingly standard uniform of black suit with white shirt and black tie — or what you might find on a valet or waiter at an upscale establishment in Jersey.

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