“New Developments for Japanese and Chinese Firms” Conference in Tokyo Yields Rich Information

At the “New Developments for Japanese and Chinese Firms” conference recently held in Tokyo academic presenters from China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the United States, and Sweden gathered to discuss their research on a diverse set of topics relevant for Japanese and Chinese firms. They spoke about Japanese investment in China from a historical and contemporary vantage point, growing Chinese and Japanese interest in and investment in the Arctic, the shifting situation vis-à-vis Chinese investment in Japan, and Chinese and Japanese investment in infrastructure with a focus on rail infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia. Presenters also discussed patterns of coverage of China in the Japanese mass media, China and Japan’s practices in regards to bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and the implications of this for their outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) patterns, the operational strategies of Japanese firms in China, and the impact of different export markets as well as different institutional environments on the innovation level in China. Of note, there were some disagreements among those discussing Japanese OFDI (JOFDI) in China as to whether or not JOFDI in China actually was rising or falling as well as, where it was believed it was falling, the extent to which this could be attributed to political versus economic factors. Other conference findings were that coverage of China in Japan in the mass media seems to be shifting in a negative direction, that some Japanese institutions in China supporting business activities there may be downplaying adverse events so as not to discourage Japanese investment in China, and that Chinese and Japanese infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia and the aid provided to support it have many historical and contemporary similarities. Lastly, stringent BITs seems to fuel greater amounts of Chinese OFDI while they do not seem to be that significant in shaping JOFDI flows.