RECAP: Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and GO-Biz Director Dee Dee Myers Lead California Trade Delegation to Japan

Mar 22, 2023 | Press Release

Sacramento, CA – Last week, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and GO-Biz Director Dee Dee Myers led a delegation of more than 100 California business executives and senior California government officials to Japan for World Smart Energy Week and to further bolster the strong economic ties and promote a shared commitment to climate action between the world’s 3rd and soon-to-be 4th largest economies.

“In California, we are extremely proud of our close relations with Japan,” said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “Japan is the number one source of foreign direct investment in the State of California but even more important are the historic, cultural, and people-to-people links that bind us together. Our trip could not have been more productive in strengthening the deep economic ties between our economies and taking meaningful action on climate change.”

Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis and Director Myers were joined by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Secretary Toks Omishakin, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Liane Randolph, California Energy Commission (CEC) Chair David Hochschild, and CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan as well as a delegation of travel and tourism executives led by Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California.

The trade delegation coincided with the one-year anniversary of signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between California and Japan, signed by Governor Newsom and Ambassador Tomita, strengthening economic cooperation, trade, and the shared commitment to tackling climate change.

“California’s cutting-edge policies — and the innovative businesses and new technologies that are the hallmark of our state — are key to our climate cooperation with Japan,” said GO-Biz Director Dee Dee Myers. “This trade mission strengthened our essential private sector and government ties, furthered our shared energy and security goals, and reinforced California’s role as a global leader in business, research, and commercial innovation to advance climate mitigation strategies.”


Historic Partnerships on Clean Ports and Advancing Green Shipping Corridors

  • A new Letter of Intent (LOI) signed by the governments of California and Japan to work together to clean up a critical link in the global supply chain by collaborating on strategies to cut planet-warming pollution at seaports and establish green shipping corridors.
  • The signing of Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Tokyo, and the Port of Yokohama formalizing collaboration on sustainability and environmental issues.

Boosting Economic Partnerships in the Clean Energy Sector

  • The announcement of a $1.4B contract between California company Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) and Japanese company Fuji Electric for the delivery of geothermal power facilities in Imperial County, California. CTR expects to produce 150,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium to support global demand for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, which could save almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce vehicle tailpipe emissions by 11.5 million metric tons annually all while decarbonizing lithium production by another 2 million metric tons.
  • Agreement between California-headquartered Principle Power and Tokyo Gas to supply technology and engineering to the Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Project, which will feature two modern 15 MW wind turbines on Principle Power’s WindFloat® foundations.
  • A new collaboration between California’s Universal Hydrogen, Sojitz Corporation, and Mitsubishi HC Capital Inc. to enable the use of hydrogen-powered aircraft by Japanese airlines.
  • Hosted a California Pavilion at World Smart Energy Week, Japan’s largest renewable energy trade show, where six California small businesses exhibited their products and services, and California officials delivered a keynote session to an audience of more than 500 on the state’s strategies for decarbonization and climate resilience.
  • Hosted the California Trade and Investment Forum, which highlighted business opportunities in California for Japanese investors and included participation from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and the Japan External Trade Organization and was attended by more than 175 business executives.
  • Hosted the California-Japan Climate Summit, attended by more than 250 business executives, which included panel discussions on the transition to carbon neutrality, promotion of renewable energy and clean hydrogen, decarbonization of critical infrastructure, and opportunities for climate solutions on agricultural lands.

New Partnerships and Initiatives to Promote Tourism 

  • The signing of an MOU between Visit California and the Japan Association of Travel Agents, Japan’s largest tourism industry association, to work together to recover tourism visitation and spending to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • The signing of an MOU with H.I.S. Co. Ltd., Japan’s second-largest tour operator, to develop tourism promotions and products to appeal to HIS clientele, including training, familiarization tours, and consumer education.
  • Visit California’s launch of new consumer initiatives to inspire California travel from Japan, including a new ad campaign and airline partnerships.

Strengthening Bilateral Relationships

  • The signing of an MOU creating a California Trade and Investment Desk in Tokyo, which will serve as a hub for promoting business engagement between Californian and Japanese companies.
  • Meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Japan, the Honorable Rahm Emanuel, to learn more about the critically important relationship between our two countries, the priorities of the Biden-Harris administration in Japan, and how California as a subnational leader can support advancing our diplomatic and commercial ties.
  • Meetings with Governor Yuriko Koike of Tokyo, the first woman to be elected Governor of Tokyo, and Vice Governor Nobuhiko Yamaguchi of Osaka Prefecture, one of California’s sister states to discuss how our sub-national governments can support the efforts of our national leadership to further advance the historic relations between Japan and the United States.
  • Meetings with the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister for the Economy, Trade, and Industry; Minister of Digital Transformation/ Minister of Consumer Affairs and Food Safety; as well as officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Trade, and Tourism to discuss how we can combine our strengths to benefit both of our economies and for the world.


“The California trade delegation to Japan was highly successful in strengthening ties between the world’s third and fourth largest economies,” said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. As a state legislator, I represent the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, home to the largest number of Japanese businesses in the United States. Japanese business investment in California creates jobs for Californians and promotes innovation in clean energy and other important industries.  I thank Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development for leading this successful trade mission.”

“The successful trade mission further strengthened our state’s and country’s tight-knit relationship with Japan and will lead to more meaningful collaboration as we work together to enhance trade and rapidly cut planet-warming pollution from our transportation sectors, including seaports on both sides of the Pacific,” said CalSTA Secretary Omishakin. “The trip may be over, but the information gained, and the partnerships forged will pay dividends for the people of California for years to come.”

“During our time in Japan, we celebrated the strong ties that we have within the market, visiting some of our key agricultural importers and highlighting California products to the trade,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Our goals were to expand trade and climate collaboration to enhance opportunities for California’s farmers and ranchers in our fourth largest agricultural export market. It was a pleasure to participate in the trip and expand our strong friendship with Japan.”

“The pioneering climate policy that we create at the California Air Resources Board is, in many ways, a call to zero-emissions technology investors and manufacturers that we are open for business,” said CARB Chair Randolph. “The California-Japan Trade Mission allowed us to share our climate story, exchange lessons learned with government leaders in Japan, and foster the clean technology partnership and investment we need both in California and around the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

“For the CEC, the ‘mission’ in the trade mission to Japan was climate solutions. And this trip was a tremendous success in strengthening the collaboration between California and Japan on clean energy,” said CEC Chair David Hochschild. “It included the signing of a billion-dollar deal on California lithium, as well as productive meetings on offshore wind, transportation electrification, energy storage, hydrogen, and electric heat pumps. I would like to thank Lt. Governor Kounalakis and GO-Biz Director DeeDee Myers for their leadership in making it happen.”

“California is open for business, and we’re eager to welcome Japanese travelers back to rediscover all our state has to offer,” said Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California. “We have a longstanding relationship with Japanese travelers that goes back decades, and there are so many new experiences to explore. The new initiatives we launched in Japan this week will reignite partnerships and showcase the best of California to travel agents, meeting planners and visitors.”

“The California Chamber of Commerce was delighted to work alongside the Lt. Governor’s Office and GO-Biz on this important and successful mission to Japan,” said Susanne Stirling, Vice President of International Affairs at the California Chamber of Commerce. “The business leaders in our delegation greatly appreciated the unique opportunities to visit with Japanese businesses, tour factories, and learn more about Japan’s centers of innovation. The meetings we took part in brought us a renewed sense of optimism for successful partnerships with Japanese companies and supported CalChamber’s long-held goal of expanding international trade and investment to bolster California’s economy and prosperity.”

About GO-Biz
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) serves as the State of California’s leader for job growth and economic development efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more. For more information visit the GO-Biz website.

Heather Purcell
Deputy Director of Communications
Email Heather, HERE

Explore more articles by category:  GO-Biz News  |  CalOSBA News  |  Press Releases  |  Opinion Editorials  |  Statements