Interview to Governor of Yamagata Prefecture, Ms. Mieko Yoshimura
by Barbara Ganetti
Today Japan represents, in term of GDP, the third Country at world after USA and China. Its economic system remains among more stable and innovative, with consumer base composed by 127 million of individuals. The Abe Government is also promoting a growth policy to get out the Country of a long period of economic stagnation. In the last twenty years for Japanese people, it has developed an interest toward Italy and its products; this attraction supports the high level Italian production in traditional sectors of our exports that are in a highly sophisticated market like the Japanese one a favorable development basin. This is proposed as an incentive for market access even by SMEs specialized in the production of high quality goods much appreciated by the local consumers. Despite the geographical distance and cultural differences, Italy and Japan have similar features and they have to face difficult common problems, such an energy supply, natural disaster, environment conservation and the aging of the population. It opens interesting opportunities cooperation in innovative sectors like renewable energy, Nano and biotechnology, ITC (e-Health), architecture, robotics, home automation, chemical and pharmaceutical products. Japanese culture has ancient roots and it is very active in relations and cultural exchanges with Italy. For this reason, we ask some questions to Ms. Mieko Yoshimura, Governor of Yamagata Prefecture and Mr. Paolo del Bianco, President of Romualdo del Bianco Foundation, located in beautiful Florence, connoisseur both Japanese culture but also as promoter of culture as powerful instrument of aggregation among people, in its noblest forms, creating opportunities of discussion especially among young people, that represent our future.
Your Excellency Governor, how long have you cover his government charge for Yamagata Prefecture?
A: 6 years and 11 months as of Jan. 2016 (inaugurated Feb. 2009).
Can you learn something else about the new cooperation pact signed between Romualdo del Bianco Foundation and Yamagata Prefecture?
A: We plan to use the opportunities presented by this contract to expand cultural exchange, cultural heritage preservation, and tourism exchange efforts by conveying information about Yamagata Prefecture’s rich traditional culture, beautiful natural environment, and diverse food culture—among other things—throughout the world via the Foundation’s portal site.
Do you find Italy and, in particular the region of Tuscany , is a good partner for the cultural and commercial promotion of Japan?
How does Yamagata city with the current global economy?
A: The global economy is engaged in movement toward new frameworks for open trade, such as the TPP and FTAs between countries. In this turbulent time, our aim is to support the long-term development of Yamagata Prefecture’s industries through holistic and comprehensive expansion of international, tourism, and economic exchange, while earnestly getting involved with fast-developing regions through organizations such as ASEAN and working to construct stable partnerships.
In particular, about what productive sectors is to promote export?
A: Agricultural products, processed foods, traditional handcrafted items, manufactured goods, and similar high value added Yamagata products.
Which foreign investors can attract the city of Yamagata and in which sectors?
A: We are interested in attracting domestic businesses and investments from the following sectors:
Businesses involved in organic electronics, biotechnology, ultra-precision machining and other cutting-edge technology. Also, car companies and similar that put to use a collection of partner businesses representing Yamagata’s various technological strengths. Those related to health/welfare/treatment or foodstuffs/agricultural products with projected future growth.
How is Italy perceived by the Japanese investment in medium and long term? And what are the sectors that are of greatest interest?
A: As far as exports go, we in Yamagata are very interested in continuing to promote our products (sake, Tsuyahime rice, edamame, etc.) to cultivate an export market in the EU, with Italy as a foothold. We hope our attendance at the recent Expo Milano, where we were able to deepen others’ understanding of our prefecture, will serve as a foundation for that.
In conclusion, thanking you for your kind availability, I ask you the last question, can you give us your impressions about the position of Italy in this time of economic crisis in Europe?
A: With regard to the economic sector, both historically and today, Italy is regarded as one of Europe’s core nations. However, I get the impression that Italy has many facets that allow it to stand independently as well, such as music, art, design, and other cultural assets; sports and food culture. This extends to the industrial sector as well, with the automobile and textile industries. I also feel that Italy’s natural environment, food culture, and many other features make it similar to Yamagata.