The government shutdown and budget impasse that forced the cancellation of President Clinton’s visit to Japan won’t hurt relations between Japan and the U.S., because “the U.S. is further along in trying to meet suggestions for reform than Japan is,” Edmund Fitzgerald, trustee and former chairman of the U.S. Committee for Economic Development (CED) told GlobalFax in an interview on Nov. 13.  However, he cautioned that the U.S.’s problems could take the pressure off of Japan to complete its own reforms.

Mr. Fitzgerald, managing director of Woodmont Associates in Nashville, Tenn., and former chairman and CEO of Northern Telecom, was instrumental in helping Northern Telecom become the first non-Japanese company to successfully deliver telecommunications equipment for use in the Japanese network.  Northern Telecom Japan Inc. (NTJI) is now the largest volume supplier of non-Japanese telecommunications equipment to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), one of the world’s largest telephone companies.

Mr. Fitzgerald visited Atlanta on Nov. 3 to speak to the members of the Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG) about a joint statement issued by the CED, an independent research and policy organization of U.S. businessmen and educators, and the Keizai Doykai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), outlining changes the U.S. and Japan should make to improve bilateral relations.

He said that the U.S. has more leverage now in dealing with Japan because it is becoming more competitive globally due to government efforts to cut the deficit and lower health care costs and improve education and work force training.

For more information, or a copy of the joint statement, call JASG at (404) 524-7399.

by Briana Pehlman