Q: Tell us about the attractiveness of Okayama.
Governor Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama: A relatively unknown fact is that Okayama has been aggressively developing infrastructure, such as hospitals, universities, and transportation, for a long time. One of the first modern medical schools in Japan was opened in Okayama in 1870.
Okayama is close to Tokyo from a global standpoint. You can fly to Okayama in 70 minutes. Compared to 10 years ago, local businesses are remarkably open to non-Japanese companies. As Governor of Hiroshima Yuzaki-san said, I believe non-Japanese business people will see more attractive opportunities in Japan’s local regions, such as Okayama, than in Tokyo. I would like many people to come and knock on our doors. There remains ample land and space to be utilized in our region.
Q: Please elaborate more on the openness of the local people.
Governor Ibaragi: Panel members gathered here today have a variety of experiences outside of government administration and outside of Japan. Hiroshima Governor Yuzaki-san was my classmate at Stanford University, and the two city mayors here with us have lived abroad as well. There are many more local leaders who can interact with you in the audience, and with your clients from all over the world. These new types of leaders started breakthrough efforts in Japan's local regions.
If a non-Japanese business person comes up to me and says that they would like to open a business in Okayama, I can say, for example, if they need international education for their kids, I could make it happen relatively soon. We are determined to accommodate any international business and their living needs. I think strong local leadership with a global mindset can make a big difference.
Zen Temple: Sogen-Ji
Q: Give us some examples of non-Japanese living in Okayama.
Governor Ibaragi: There is a Zen Buddhist Temple named Sogenji in Okayama City. Currently, fifteen non-Japanese monks live and train there. Some of them have stayed there for about 30 years. Countries they came from differ --- the United States, Poland, France, India, and so on.
Naoshima, which is situated 20 minutes by ferryboat from the Uno Port in Okayama Prefecture, is a top Michelin destination for its contemporary arts. Not only do we have a large number of global tourists, but also many non-Japanese artists have moved there for their creative activities. In regional Japan, the non-Japanese presence in culture has become significant. I hope that a non-Japanese business presence will soon follow. Rather than shutting the door to what comes from overseas, Okayama always remains open to the outside world. By letting in international capital, technologies, and tourists, as well as stimulating exchange of human resources, I would like to develop Okayama into a wealthy region by making maximum use of its potential.
Naoshima Contemporary Art
Governor Ryuta Ibaragi
Governor of Okayama Prefecture. Born in 1966. Graduated from the University of Tokyo and earned an MBA from Stanford University. After worked as a management consultant at Monitor Company, served as president of the Okayama-based department store chain, Tenmaya Co.,Ltd. Elected as Governor in 2012.
Okayama Prefecture has developed as a transport hub for western Japan and has fostered the growth of a range of industries and economic and cultural activities. The prefecture is famous for good medical schools and outstanding medical institutions such as Teijin Nakashima Medical Co., Ltd. While Okayama puts emphasis on the fields of ultra-precision equipment, biotechnology, medicine, welfare, health, and the environment, the prefecture is also focusing on production and research in the growth fields of new energy, next-generation vehicles, and aerospace. In the last two decades, Okayama has also become popular around the world as the main source of Japan’s high-quality, vintage-inspired jeans. The area attracts many tourists to the small seaside city of Kojima, along which a variety of manufacturers and retailers of denim jeans products operate their stores. The government offers foreign companies support to set up new companies in Okayama, and provides consultation on matters related to the transfer of head office functions to the prefecture and on establishing a Japanese base, and provides various facilities including an incubation office.
Population : 1.92 million (as of 2015)
Area : 7,114.5 km²
Capital : Okayama City
Local GDP : USD 61 billion
Infrastructure : See the map
Access by air : Tokyo (70 minutes), Seoul (95 minutes), Shanghai (120 minutes), Hong kong (4 hours)
Access by train : Tokyo (3 hours), Osaka (45 minutes), Fukuoka (100 minutes)
Major industries : Petrochemicals, coal chemicals, transport equipment, chemicals, steel and general machinery and tools
Contact : Enterprise and Investment Promotion Division
2-4-6 Uchisange, Kita-ku, Okayama-City, Okayama 700-8570
The prefectures and cities that were highlighted here are just a few examples of Japan’s attractive and diverse regions. Readers will find a wide range of business opportunities in rural areas, if they visit and explore various regions on their own.
- Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
- Cabinet Office
- Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Names and positions contained in this report are as of May 22, 2017.