The Future of U.S.- Japan Relations Amid COVID-19

On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the Meridian Corporate Council hosted a Global Business Briefing with H.E. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Ambassador of Japan to the U.S, and Mr. Kabir Nath, CEO and President of Otsuka North America for a discussion on what COVID-19 means for U.S.-Japan relations and public-private health care initiatives. Ambassador Sugiyama presented his credentials as Ambassador to the United States in March 2018, culminating his diplomatic career of over 40 years. Mr. Kabir Nath has nearly thirty years of broad international biopharmaceutical and medical device experience.   

Meridian and its Corporate Council had the opportunity to learn about the public health precautions being deployed by Japanese leadership in the public and private sectors. Ambassador Sugiyama credited the national network of local health centers implementing early diagnosis and tracing for containing the virus. Japan's unemployment rate has remained low, at 2.6%, and the nation recently appropriated USD 2.3 trillion to combat the COVID-19 crisis. Mr. Nath highlighted the biopharma industry's response to the pandemic, noting Otsuka's move to donate to frontline organizations and provide PPE and medical products to groups in need.   

Beyond health strategies, Ambassador Sugiyama underscored a sustained commitment to national security and multilateral diplomacy to ensure continued regional stability. He further noted that Japan, together with the United States, will continue to engage with China on matters related to global health security, military activity, and commercial affairs.   

In Japan, government leaders intend to pursue a new economic growth model through digital transformation, expanding distance learning, strengthening IT infrastructure for small businesses, and providing more extensive e-government services. Ambassador Sugiyama remarked that the virus accelerated the transformations already underway in Japan.   

The United States and Japan have a long history of medical cooperation. The unprecedented challenges brought by the current health crisis have only strengthened this resolve to cooperate on global matters pertaining to health care and beyond.   

Project summary

The Future of U.S.- Japan Relations Amid COVID-19 | June 2020
Number of Attendees: 78
Regions: East Asia and Pacific
Countries: Japan
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Global Health
Program Areas: Convening