Doing Business in Japan – June 14, 2019

OWIT-Toronto’s June event, hosted by Bennett Jones, focused on Doing Business in Japan and featured

three dynamic women speakers - Consul-General of Japan in Toronto Takako Ito, Christine Nakamura,

VP of the Asia Pacific Foundation in Toronto, and BE (Barbara) Alink, Founder and CEO of The Alink

Inventions. They shared opportunities for Canadian companies in Japan and highlights of a recent trade

mission to Japan for Canadian businesswomen.

Consul-General of Japan in Toronto Takako Ito gave an overview of the Japanese economy and opportunities for

Canadian businesses:

  • Japan has the third largest economy in the world despite its small geographical size
  • It is business friendly, safe and peaceful.
  • The elimination of tariffs under CPTPP gives Canada first mover advantage over the US in exporting to Japan.
  • Japan’s export promotion agency, JETRO, offers free space to Canadian businesses that want to open an office in Japan until they secure their own.
  • A common challenge that both Japan and Canada have is an aging society.

Christine Nakamura, VP of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, shared highlights of a spring trade mission to Japan for Canadian businesswomen organized by the Foundation:

  • The trade mission focused on eldercare since Japan has the most aged population in the world.
  • It included tours to elder care facilities, B2B meetings and seminars.
  • 17 export-ready women and 12 business and thought leaders from Canada participated.
  • Six deals for Canadian women entrepreneurs have been sealed since.
  • Areas of potential opportunity in Japan for Canadian businesses include technology, insurance,senior leisure and tourism, and private care.
  • The next trade mission will focus on women in STEM.

BE (Barbara) Alink, inventor of the Alinker – a three-wheeled walking bike and vehicle for social change - and a participant in the April trade mission to Japan, shared the story of her innovative business and her experience on the trade mission:

  • She is likely the only woman in the world who developed and brought a bike to market.
  • After getting an Alinker, actress Selma Blair - who suffers from MS - posted it on Instagram, which boosted Alinker’s social media activity exponentially.
  • BE found both a distributor and manufacturer in Japan where she’ll be manufacturing a smaller model.
  • She did not experience any cultural barriers while there, and feels innovation is very important in that market.
  • “Things happen between women on the mission and a lot happens beyond the mission.”

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