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Messages from Keidanren Executives and Contributed articles to Keidanren Journals November, 2015 Contribution to Monthly Keidanren

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan

Prime Minister Abe's spring state visit to Washington showcased the many ways in which the U.S.-Japan partnership has never been stronger. From clean energy cooperation to fighting the spread of infectious diseases to supporting girls education in developing countries, our two nations are leading the way in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. Japan is at the center of our efforts to strengthen our economic relationships in Asia, alongside the crucial contribution the U.S.-Japan security alliance provides to ensure peace, stability, and growth in the region.

The U.S.-Japan relationship is more than just the interaction between our two governments, though. The private sector plays an essential role in deepening our economic cooperation and people-to-people ties. And the Keidanren is at the heart of the Japanese private sector's engagement with the United States. Keidanren member companies employ hundreds of thousands of American workers across the United States, and produce goods and services used daily by Americans and American businesses. Keidanren's reopening of its Washington office this year signaled your commitment to deepening bilateral business and investment ties. And the high-level Keidanren delegation of 100 business leaders to eleven American states and our nation's capital this past summer further renewed and cultivated relationships at the national, state, and local levels.

Keidanren's vigorous engagement comes at a very appropriate time. With the advent of the Trans Pacific Partnership, our economies will be connected as never before. Through our active roles in the TPP, Japan and the United States are helping establish a set of high-standards rules for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region for generations to come. Lower trade barriers and greater economic harmonization under the TPP also have great potential to and contribute to our countries' economic and employment growth and will present new business opportunities for Keidanren firms and their American counterparts.

As the two largest developed nation economies in the world, the United States and Japan have a responsibility not just to raise growth and consumption, but to improve the quality of life in our own countries and those we do business in. Together, the Japanese and American governments, working with leading private sector firms, like those in the Keidanren, can accomplish a great deal toward the areas highlighted by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe, including our stewardship of the environment, improving global health, promoting the empowerment of women, and facilitating innovation.

Environmental cooperation between the United States and Japan is stronger than ever before. During her visit to Japan this past summer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy met with representatives from Keidanren's Committee on Environment and Safety to discuss our shared concerns on climate change. The governments of the United States and Japan are working toward a successful outcome at the 21st Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) later this year. And as leading donors to the Green Climate Fund, the United States and Japan are also global partners in assisting the countries most vulnerable to climate change. At the same time, Keidanren members play a vital environmental role. Keidanren includes Japan's foremost energy producers and consumers, and many are leading the way in developing new and innovative environmentally-friendly technologies. I encourage all Keidanren members to redouble their efforts to diminish their environmental impact and maximize the efficiency of their use of natural resources.

The United States and Japan cooperate on global health by combatting infectious diseases, including through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We are also expanding our cooperation on medical research through the emerging partnership between the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Japan's new Agency for Medical Research and Development. Industry also plays a vital role in the field of public health. Japanese firms are leveraging their innovation to address emerging threats to global health like Ebola and can make important contributions to promoting maternal and child health in the developing countries in which they do business.

Another area in which Keidanren members play a critical role is promoting women's empowerment. The Japanese government has set concrete goals to ensure everyone has the opportunity to lead, regardless of gender, and we enthusiastically support Japan in this important endeavor. Gender equality is important not just for women in Japan, but for everyone's shared interest in our economic future, and I encourage Keidanren members to take full advantage of all the human capital at their disposal. It is crucial that we improve the ability of women, and other traditionally underemployed groups like the elderly and handicapped, to fully participate in the economic, political, and social life of Japan, the United States, and the other countries in which we do business. The good news is that in just a year and a half since I arrived in Japan, I've already seen genuine changes take root. People who have spent years advocating for women's advancement tell me that we have an opportunity to make real and sustainable progress, and every day I see a growing number of talented and qualified women advancing in all professions.

I welcome the Abe administration's commitment to revitalizing Japan's economy through regulatory reform, investments in research and development, and strengthening a business environment that stimulates entrepreneurship. Keidanren's policy recommendations for creating a more affluent and vibrant Japan through innovation and globalization are a particularly important contribution to achieving these goals. Prime Minister Abe's visit to Silicon Valley this past spring highlighted the opportunities we have to expand U.S.-Japan linkages in emerging business sectors. With Japan's rich technological base and entrepreneurial interest and vigor, I can foresee much success stemming from U.S.-Japan public and private sector collaboration on innovation and entrepreneurship across a broad spectrum of industries. The extent to which we achieve this success will in large measure depend on the Japanese private sector's openness to new ideas, new technologies, and new ways of doing business.

There is of course so much more we can do together. But none of it would be possible without the leadership and trust of our friends at Keidanren. And for that, I thank all of you. The indispensable U.S.-Japan relationship is a beacon for prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with Keidanren as an essential contribution to deepening the many facets of that relationship, for our own benefit and for the benefit of the world.