Osamu Watanabe, Chairman and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organization, is now leading pitchman for investment in Japan. Currently, such investment stands at only 1.1 percent of gross domestic product, compared with more than 5 percent in the United States, Britain and Germany. The sluggish pace of economic deregulation coupled with the Asian outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome has made Watanabe's job that much more challenging. Nonetheless, he says he's confident he can double FDI in Japan in five years-a goal set by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in January.
Watanabe says he expects further relaxation of Japanese trade policies, including revisions in the commercial law that will permit stock swaps as an avenue for FDI. There will also be significant tax cuts for such investment.