Innovation and Growth in US-Japan Economic Relations: Areas for New Engagement?


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When: Jan 9 2014 - 12:00pm until Jan 9 2014 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Innovation and Growth in US-Japan Economic Relations: Areas for New Engagement?

An Asia-Pacific Political Economy Seminar featuring:

Mr. Sean Connell
2013 Japan Studies Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington

Dr. Scott Seaman (Discussant)
Senior Analyst, Asia; Eurasia Group

Japan Studies Visiting Fellow, Sean Connell, offered his views on how new Japanese economic initiatives can effect US-Japan economic ties, ongoing bilateral initiatives on innovation, and potential areas for new cooperation

Innovation is a key characteristic and comparative advantage of the US and Japanese economies, and it is widely recognized by policy makers, business leaders, and the broader public in both countries as essential for future growth and competitiveness. The two governments increasingly recognize innovation as an area with good potential for expanding bilateral cooperation, and in recent years this topic has risen to the fore within several joint initiatives and policy dialogs. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic revitalization initiatives and Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations bringing new momentum to US-Japan economic ties, increased focus on innovation offers a potentially valuable framework for identifying new opportunities to collaborate in advancing shared goals, while addressing challenges both countries face in a competitive global environment.

In his presentation, Mr. Sean Connell offered his views on these themes, examined ongoing bilateral initiatives including related to energy technology, and explore potential areas for new engagement. After an overview of the role of government in promoting innovation and highlighting some of the many bilateral US-Japan dialogs on innovation, including such areas as: economic harmonization, the Internet economy, clean energy, and entrepreneurship. The role of the governments in this, Connell explained, is to bring together people and groups in these areas that do not otherwise interact to develop synergies. Meanwhile the presence of businesses at the table keep talks pragmatic.

He recommended that both sides do more to promote innovation and a vehicle for growth. Japan specifically, he noted, needs to do more to cultivate a global outlook by bringing in stakeholders in the business community get more Japanese innovations into international markets, and remove barriers to M&As other avenues for idea exchange through multilateral frameworks and initiatives.

Senior analyst for Asia at the Eurasia Group, Dr. Scott Seaman, served as a discussant for Sean Connell's presentation on innovation and growth in US-Japan relations.

Senior analyst for Asia at the Eurasia Group, Dr. Scott Seaman, served as a discussant and began by explaining that while Abenomics has attracted investors' attention to Japan is ways not seen in years, 2014 will be a critical year for Japan and the Abe government. Market watchers, while cognizant of the time it takes for structural reforms to have impact, are interested to see what will happen with the "third arrow" of Abe's economic plan and what concrete steps will be made to facilitate real economic growth in Japan.

He listed off a series of key legislative measures to watch for in Japan's Diet in 2014, including reforms to the civil service, corporate leaders, the energy sector and regulation. Dr. Seaman also highlighted that a New Growth Strategy is expected to be released in June, which will serve as an update to last year's big "Abenomics" release, which will hopefully provide a greater understanding of the specific direction these economic initiatives are to take.

Mr. Sean Connell is a 2013 Japan Studies Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington. He was previously Executive Director of the US-Korea Business Council and Director for Japan and Korea of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. He was also a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo, and has worked for the Washington State Legislature and Mie Prefecture Government in Japan. During spring 2013, Connell was a POSCO Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center's Hawaii headquarters, where he undertook research on Korea's creative economy and innovation policy agenda.

Mr. Connell holds an M.A. in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, and a B.A. with high honors in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University. He has also studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.

Dr. Scott Seaman is a senior analyst at Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, and London. Scott focuses on Japan's economic and trade policies and foreign relations, with an emphasis on the politics and economic implications of "Abenomics." He lived and studied in Japan for eight years, working for three of those years in the international division of Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo. Scott holds a PhD and an MA in political science from Duke University and a BA in government with honors from the University of Virginia.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762