Because of inclement weather last week, Shujiro Urata, the dean of the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, at Japan’s Waseda University in Tokyo, had to cancel visits to Charlotte, N.C., and East Lansing, Mich., but he told Global Atlanta that he still felt the timing of his current visit to the United States was appropriate in terms of the unveiling of the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan.
Before joining Global Atlanta at its offices in the Old Fourth Ward on Monday, Dr. Urata had spoken to two classes at Kennesaw State University, one at the Coles College of Business and another to the Asian Studies department, to the weekly Rotary Club luncheon downtown and to students, faculty and members of the Japan-America Society of Georgia at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Japan would like to play a role in both helping to finance and implement projects to improve U.S. infrastructure, he said. Japanese companies also has technologies for the development of “green coal” that could be of interest to U.S. firms as well as their well-established expertise in railways and high-speed trains, he added.
Although the Japanese government laments that the U.S. has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was finalized in Atlanta in October 2015, he said that its importance in establishing common practices in the areas of information technology rights, e-commerce, the digital economy and data transfers might be substantial enough for the U.S. to reconsider in the future.
The 11 remaining countries that agreed to join the TPP are to finalize the agreement in Chile next month.
The risk of the U.S.’s rejection of the agreement, he added, is that China’s influence in dominating trade relations around the world may expand exponentially. He discounted the possibility of China ever joining the TPP, however, because of its opposition to the regulations in a variety of areas including labor and environmental standards as well as the restrictions placed on the activities of state-owned enterprises and the transmission of data.
He mentioned favorably the trade facilitation agreement signed at the World Trade Organization meeting held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month. But he remained skeptical about the possibility that the WTO and its more than 160 members would be cohesive enough to implement many of the reforms outlined in TPP.
Dr. Urata shared positive news about the Japanese economy and its success of its monetary and fiscal policies. Regulatory reforms, however, he said, remained mired in unyielding labor negotiations. He cited Japan’s ongoing negotiations to join mega-regional trade agreements as evidence of its desire to increase business opportunities for Japanese companies in foreign markets and promote agricultural reform at home.
Before returning to Japan on Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet with the Georgia General Assembly’s economic development committees and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Dr. Urata was last in Atlanta three years ago. He was complimentary about the efficiency of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and particularly admired the “plane trains” there.
He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org