SEATTLE — The 2012 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference on Oct. 5 will highlight business and entrepreneurial collaboration between the U.S. and Japan, featuring keynote speaker Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca M. Blank.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

Blank is a key member of President Obama’s economic team working to implement the administration’s top economic priorities to increase economic growth and accelerate job creation.  She leads the department’s efforts to create an environment that strengthens innovation and competitiveness, and ensures that American businesses can thrive both here and abroad.

In her remarks, Blank will discuss ways for the U.S. and Japan to work together to strengthen the economic relationship between the two countries, touching on the importance of bilateral trade and investment. She will also discuss the importance of continued cooperation in response to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

In the opening plenary at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Blank will be joined by Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Raymond L. Conner and Lawson Inc. CEO Takeshi Niinami, who will also make keynote remarks.

This is the first time the conference will take place in Seattle, recognizing the vital and historic relationship between Japan and the Pacific Northwest. The U.S.-Japan Council is an educational 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting people-to-people connections as crucial to a strong U.S.-Japan relationship. The council brings together diverse leadership, engages stakeholders in the bilateral relationship and explores issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific.

Remarks will also be given by Phyllis Campbell, Pacific Northwest Region chairperson of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ North American Affairs Bureau (and former consul general in Los Angeles); Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Senate president pro tempore; and Norman Mineta, vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton and former U.S. secretary of transportation and secretary of commerce.

Economic Collaboration Roundtable participants include:

• Glen S. Fukushima, president & CEO, GSF Associates Inc. (moderator)

• Hideo Hato, president, New Energy & Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)

• Richard Lim, director, Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)

• Dan Sullivan, commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources (invited)

• Yasuo Tanabe, vice president, executive officer and general manager of Hitachi Ltd.’s Government & External Relations Division

• Tay Yoshitani, director and CEO of the Port of Seattle

The top three finalists of the TOMODACHI Tohoku Challenge (TTC) will compete in front of a panel of esteemed judges before the winner is announced during a special luncheon session focused on entrepreneurship. TTC is an innovative business plan competition focused on entrepreneurial solutions to economic challenges in the post-quake Tohoku region of Japan. The three finalists’ projects each support one of the three hardest-hit prefectures.

The TTC winner is provided recognition, funding opportunities and exclusive advisory services by the U.S.-Japan Council Entrepreneur Leadership Advisory Board (UE-LAB), composed of leading entrepreneurs, business leaders and venture capitalists in Japan and the U.S.

This year’s specific purpose is to identify a venture business that will bring innovation and employment to the Tohoku region and accelerate the rebuilding of the area.

The conference can be viewed online via live webstreaming. Go to

Pictured at last year’s conference are (from left) Hiroshi Mikitani, Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Minister Motohisa Furukawa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and Yasuchika Hasegawa.


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