Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti completed the first and second legs of his trade mission to Asia with visits to Tokyo and Seoul that brought government and business leaders together to build closer ties, discuss shared opportunities and challenges, and create new business relationships.
“Growing L.A.’s economy, creating jobs at home, and building better relationships means working closely with partners all over the world,” Garcetti said on July 27. “The people of Japan and South Korea are good friends to Los Angeles, and our delegation did outstanding work in Tokyo and Seoul. I am grateful for our hosts’ extraordinary hospitality and enthusiasm for strengthening the economic, cultural, and personal ties that bind our nations and cities together.”
While in Tokyo, Garcetti worked to boost Japanese investment in L.A., meeting with the Business Council for International Understanding and executives from several Japanese corporations, including: Masami Iijima, chairman of the board, Mitsui & Co.; Yoshihiko Kawamura, senior vice president, Hitachi; Masakazu Yamashina, executive vice president, NEC; William Ireton, CEO, Ireton Entertainment; Tadashi Fujita, executive vice president, Japan Airlines; Michisuke Nayama, senior vice president, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; Takeshi Tachimori, special advisor, Subaru; and Yoshitake Yamaguchi, general manager, Toshiba.
The mayor also spoke to the Japan Business Federation, Keidanren, and the business membership of Mt. Fuji Dialogue, where L.A. business delegates held talks on potential partnerships with Japanese businesses.
In a meeting with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, Garcetti announced that L.A. is joining Tokyo’s Network for Crisis Management, a group of global cities working to enhance their crisis management capabilities. The two leaders also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate and engage in exchanges regarding the Olympic and Paralympic Games, sustainability, resilience, and ports.
Garcetti also met with Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who committed to hosting 25 community college students from L.A. as part of the Mayor’s Young Ambassadors (MaYA) summer travel program. American Airlines has agreed to fly the students to Japan.
The mayor discussed the pending 60th anniversary of the Nagoya-Los Angeles sister-city relationship with national government officials, including: Yasutoshi Nishimura, deputy chief Cabinet secretary; Eiichi Hasegawa, special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Liberal Democratic Party Diet leaders Takayuki Kobayashi, Kiyoto Tsuji and Shozo Kudo of the House of Representatives and Takashi Koyari, Syuuji Yamada and Rui Matsukawa of the House of Councilors.
Garcetti witnessed the signing of an agreement between Arensis and Green Mark Energy Co., Ltd (GME). Arensis is a portfolio company of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and a biomass-to-energy system provider and license holder of Entrade Energiesysteme AG technology. Through the joint project development, Arensis plans to deliver 40 Entrade E5 biomass to energy units for a 2MW energy project in Kumamoto, equaling $15,000,000 worth of equipment and generating 16,000,000 kWh of electricity annually.
The agreement marks Arensis’ largest global project to date. Once finalized, GME will be the supplier of wood pellets and wood chips to be used as feedstock for the energy systems, and the electricity will feed into the Japanese grid system.
On the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, Garcetti met with Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon and discussed the strength of the U.S.-Korean relationship and the extraordinary achievements of the large Korean community in Los Angeles.
Garcetti and Seoul Mayor Won-soon Park observed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Tourism Business Department of Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and the Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism Development, together with Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (LATCB), to strengthen cooperation in tourism marketing. LATCB operates an office in Seoul and SMG has an office in Los Angeles.
Garcetti thanked Hanwha Q CELLS, one of the world’s largest photovoltaic manufacturers of solar cells and modules, for its $1.4 million investment in Pick My Solar, a LACI portfolio company that provides an online marketplace for customers to compare bids from top solar companies.
The mayor also spoke to members of KOTRA, the Korean Trade and Investment Agency, where Los Angeles business delegates networked with more than 20 Korean businesses.
Garcetti joined Jung Seo, CEO of CJ CGV, the world’s fifth-largest cinema exhibitor, in announcing CGV’s strategic investment in experiential entertainment company Two Bit Circus, which also announced the location of its first Micro-Amusement Park on Mateo Street in the Arts District in Downtown L.A., which will open to the public this fall. The 50,000-square-foot space will feature interactive entertainment including multi-person virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality games alongside multiple food and beverage options.
Garcetti’s Asia trip also included stops in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hong Kong. China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam are L.A.’s four leading trading partners, and tourism is among the largest contributors to the Los Angeles economy, supporting an average of more than 517,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector in 2017.
Garcetti’s delegation included members of his staff and representatives of the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports, and the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board. In addition, the World Trade Center Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Business Council convened members of L.A.’s business community to participate in the mission. The delegation members included companies in the entertainment, finance, real estate, engineering, architecture, education, shipping, and cleantech sectors.
Trade last year between Los Angeles and Japan was valued at $40 billion; South Korea at $25 billion; and Vietnam at $19.5 billion. In 2017, Los Angeles accounted for 27 percent of all U.S.-Hong Kong trade. Japan is the number one source of foreign-owned enterprises in the Southern California region with 2,541 firms, accounting for almost 86,000 employees and over $5.3 billion in wages.
Los Angeles also shares strong people-to-people ties with the Pacific Rim. L.A. County has the largest Asian American population of any county in the U.S., numbering 1.5 million, and making up 15 percent of the county’s total population. Last year, L.A. County welcomed 1.1 million visitors from China, 342,000 from Japan, and 315,000 from South Korea.