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2020 vision: Tokyo open for business

On the 29th of March the Governor of Tokyo, Mr. Yoichi Masuzoe, met with the European Chambers of Commerce in Japan to introduce the initiatives that will make Tokyo a leading financial centre as well as a more attractive place for tourism.

This ambitious project is part of the strategies aiming to improve services, infrastructures and the quality of life in Tokyo, in preparation for the Olympic Games that the city will host in 2020 and which will attract about 15 billion foreign visitors. For these purposes, the city has just approved a 13.7 trillion yen (121 billion USD) budget for the year starting April 1.
The joint chamber luncheon was held by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, with the cooperation of the European Business Council (EBC) and Philips Electronics Japan.

After a welcoming speech given by EBC Chairman Mr. Danny Risberg, governor Masuzoe described the 10 year project to transform Tokyo into a city even more open for business as well as an easier place for international enterprises to thrive. For this reason a new International Finance Forum will be set for later this year. Attention is also focused on improving international tourism in Japan, carrying on the successful record of last year (19.7 million international visitors). Along with traditional tourism, Tokyo’s goal is to get ready for hosting international MICE events.

Significant initiatives will also be handled in order to support foreign start up companies entering the domestic market. For example procedures that foreign companies and start-ups need to take to establish a business have been unified in the One-Stop Business Establishment Centre by putting together the relevant service counters of various Ministries, Agencies and the Tokyo Government. 

Governor Masuzoe launched three new business opportunities for the foreign companies interested in getting private partners in Tokyo: healthcare, environment and IT - electronics. Concerning the environment, for example, Tokyo aims to be a 'Smart Energy City' by utilising the Tokyo Cap-and-Trade program which helps “large corporations reduce green-house gas emissions to raise the percentage of energy generated from renewable sources to 30% by 2030”, as he explained. 

These targets represent an ambitious challenge for the city: the intention is to promote public-private investment funds that “show that Tokyo is trying new ways to encourage private capital investment from home and abroad”, as stated by the Governor. “Although Tokyo has only invested 4.2 billion yen (36.9 million USD), this set the stage for the growth of six energy funds worth over 40 billion yen (351 million USD)". 

Another commitment is about initiatives concerning education - strengthening academic curricula thanks to foreign languages teaching and financial studies - and equal job opportunities - meaning flexibility and incentives for helping women progress in their careers.  All these initiatives will make it easier for foreign companies to hire the best professional talents and to grow businesses in Japan.

A final topic is about making Tokyo a more liveable city, thanks to initiatives like the enlarging of cycle lanes network, the upgrading of 3 ring expressways, the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles as well as the improvement of river ferry facilities. 
One of key goals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games is to host a truly “barrier-free” Games: not only architectural barriers but also linguistic ones will be removed so that foreign visitors and residents will fully enjoy what Tokyo has to offer. 

According to the Games, one of the goals is also to plan now the future utilities of  Olympic and Paralympic structures: “we plan to repurpose venues to create more recreational spaces in the city for cultural events and youth education, so that people of all ages can enjoy them for decades to come” affirmed Mr. Masuzoe.

The Governor ended his speech with a short but meaningful reminder of the tragic attacks of terrorism in Brussels. He also reminded that Tokyo was recently ranked as the ‘safest city’ in a survey handed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which measures cities according to digital and health security as well as infrastructure and personal safety. The survey specifically pointed out Tokyo’s strong policy for disaster preparedness. 


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