On February 11, 2020, Chiyo Kobayashi, Co-CEO of Washington CORE gave an engaging speech at a premier global event for the state of Maryland at an evening seminar organized by the Maryland World Trade Institute in Baltimore. The event, titled “Taste of Business – Japan” was a joint talk with Minister Iida of the Japanese Embassy, who gave the government perspective while Chiyo provided the private sector outlook.
The venue was a beautifully restored warehouse space now run by an accelerator called Spark. It is located at the heart of downtown Baltimore in the ‘Power Plant’ district, surrounded by restaurants, concert venues and the bustling Inner Harbor neighborhood. There were 75 people who came from the greater Baltimore area, including global players in who have been doing business with Japan for many years, as well as others who were eager to launch engagements with Japanese businesses.
In her presentation, she discussed who is doing business in Japan and why doing business in Japan matters to the US economy. She explained Japanese consumers’ traits including high levels of disposable income and sophisticated tastes. She told the audience that Japan boasts more than 300 centenarian companies, which is more than a double of the second highest country which is Germany. She attributed the longevity of Japanese corporations to the ‘everyone wins’ management philosophy – called Sompo-yoshi, where business is conducted with the goal of delivering benefits to the community, customers and employees. This well balanced management ethos, which can be traced back to the Edo Period almost 400 years ago, drives Japanese companies to think and act on a long term basis, allowing them to easily align with such current trends as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), ESG (Environment, Sustainability and Governance), as well as support efforts by Japan as a whole to work towards the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goal).
She also discussed the rise of M&As in both countries as well active investment into each other’s market, suggesting a promising opportunity in US-Japan business in coming years, which is exemplified by her own haiku:
US and Japan,
Old and New, Always Exciting.
Everyone enjoyed her story of her 2 hometowns and their relationship with crabs: her Japanese home town is well known for snow crab soup, while her Maryland hometown is famous for blue crabs right from the shell with the signature Old Bay spice.