Japan Currents Symposium Highlights Vital Role of Logistics and Supply Chains

PLANO, March 31, 2022 – The first in-person Japan Currents Symposium since 2020 highlighted the movement of goods as a driver for growth in U.S.-Japan business and trade. Experts in the logistics and supply chains industry gathered for the return of the symposium on March 9, 2022, at the Irving Convention Center. The annual Japan Currents program brings together leading thinkers from both Japan and the United States to explore current and looming issues that impact the incredibly important bilateral relationship between the two countries. Topics in the past have ranged from international politics, security, and the globalization of Japan’s Economy.

The program featured a Luncheon Keynote Presentation with two speakers – Catherine Mellor, Vice President of UPS International and Kantaro Takenaka, General Manager of Logistics Strategy Department (Corporate Planning Division) at Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc. Both gave insightful presentations, which were followed by an audience Q&A.

Catherine Mellor described UPS as a “global integrator – integrating ground, rail, and sea.” Therefore, as a company they have been able to gain insight into the factors that have greatly affected the world order of supply chain – factors including unprecedented consumer demand, the vulnerability of labor markets, and the shipping industries constrained capacity at a time of record demand. Mellor went on to state that Japan has taught the world how to move from a “‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ mentality,” adopting new supply chain management strategies to not just effectively meet expectations, but buy and hold more to hedge against unpredictable, disruptive events.

Takenaka provided an in-depth examination for freight container logistics throughout the pandemic, highlighting that the challenges faced in the last couple years are likely to persist for the near future. However, he emphasized that it is possible to overcome these challenges by valuing our partnerships and relationships, He asserted that it is “essential for us to keep good communication with suppliers and customers as well as with [our] logistics partners, so that we can bring together our information, knowledge, experience and wisdom to come up with ideas and solutions to solve problems.”

Afterward, attendees had the chance to break from the program to join in the foyer for coffee and networking, all while taking in beautiful views of Irving’s Lake Carolyn and the Las Colinas Business and Entertainment District.

The event reconvened for a Panel Discussion with speakers Tim Feemster, CEO and Managing Principal of Foremost Quality Logistics, Mollie Haney Bailey, Vice President of International Logistics at Transplace (an Uber Freights Company), Masaru Uchida, Director of Cargo Planning and Sales for the Americas at Japan Airlines, and moderator Dr. Hiroki Takeuchi, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia in the Tower Center at SMU.

Uchida noted that, although we have found ways to do business through Zoom and other online platforms, face-to-face interaction is of vital importance for international business. He looks

forward to meeting Japan Airlines’ customers and suppliers again soon through an in-person format. Feemster commented on the large size of the Dallas/Fort Worth market and its capacity for the logistics industry. He also contended that an important determinant for logistics and supply chain is the size of GDP, and therefore the U.S. and Japan, as two of the world’s three largest economies, will play an essential role in the global movement of goods. Mollie Haney Bailey added that the population of Texas and its important economic hubs means that companies will look to locate distribution facilities in the state. She also shared that we need to have better predictive analytics to prepare for future eventualities in the logistics and supply chains industry.

To view full event gallery, please click here.
Copyright © Robin Mallon

Special guests included Peter Kelley, President of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, The Honorable Hirofumi Murabayashi, Consul General of Japan in Houston, The Honorable Hisashi “Sam” Shichijo, Honorary Consul of Japan in Dallas, Masahiro “Mark” Ikeno, JASDFW advisory council member and President and CEO of NEC Corporation of America, Hideto Nishitani, JASDFW advisory council member and recipient of the 2022 Bridges-to-Friendship Award, and John Stich, JASDFW advisory council member and former Honorary Consul-General of Japan in Dallas.

The 2022 Japan Currents Symposium was presented by the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth in collaboration with the Southern Methodist University’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs. Lead sponsors were the Embassy of Japan (Washington, DC) and the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS). Additional support was graciously provided by the Irving Economic Development Partnership, and American Airlines served as the airline sponsor.


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