Student Perspective | The Japan Update: Alliance in Disarray?

Written by: Katya Romo Gonzalez, ’19 

The SMU Tower Center and the Japan American Society held the annual Japan Update Symposium on February 15th to discuss and promote US-Japan relations in the DFW area on topics such as economics, trade, and business. The panelists included executives from an array of industries from auto manufacturing to financial services and political scientists from SMU, Loyola Marymount University and Waseda University.

In today’s world, the international arena faces difficult times; the growing animosity towards foreigners and an increase in protectionist feelings lead us to question some strategic alliances with other nations. It is fundamental that we discuss the relations between nations and the benefits involved in these alliances.

Why are Japanese companies coming to Dallas?

The Japanese economy has finally reached growth after years of stagnation, and the use of bold monetary policy has finally ended a 15-year period of deflation. However, a huge problem faced by Japan is that they have an aging and shrinking population. Japanese companies are in the quest for foreign high growth markets and new regions with a high potential customer base. These enterprises are searching for new talent, safe communities, suppliers, partners, financial stability, growth, reasonable costs of living, etc. Given the needs, there is only one place who could satisfy so many of these: Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Dallas Regional Chamber’s Sarah Carabias leads the efforts of recruiting headquarters to DFW, and she explains that the DRC estimates that by 2040, the population of the DFW area will grow to 10 million people. Dallas is expected to be the third largest metropolitan area by 2040, trumping Chicago. Last year, DFW was the first metropolitan area in the country in terms of job growth, in second place came New York. Forty-five thousand students graduate every year from colleges and universities in the area, thus talent is readily available for these incoming companies. Every year, an organization ranks the best places to put new facilities in and this region ranked top 5 in 10 out of 12 categories portraying how Dallas is extremely diversified across different industries. Plano is one of the safest cities in the United States with a very high graduation rate and is now home to 45 Japanese companies while DFW as a whole is home to 250 Japanese parent companies and 350 subsidiaries.

Toyota’s VP of financial services, Julia Wada, explained how Toyota employs 137,000 people in the United States, and Toyota directly invests $25 Billion USD in the USA. Toyota amounts for $982 Million dollars in total U.S. charitable donations. Josh Mayfield, the Managing Director of the Orix Corporation USA mentioned how after a long period of Japanese stagnation and deflation the company decided that the best choice would be to deploy capital to the U.S.; the number of wealthy families in Dallas made the region very compelling for their financial services. Orix is now based in Dallas and is ranked No. 254 on 2018 Forbes Global 2000: World’s Biggest Public Companies, and their assets exceed $107 billion.

These Japanese giants are crucial in the economic development of our beloved Dallas; it is fundamental that the ties with different nations remain open to business and trade to create the greatest opportunities and benefits for our communities. Promoting cooperation and being welcoming of investment will further increase the potential that the DFW area holds.

Katya Romo Gonzalez is a senior at SMU majoring in political science and finance.