On the morning of September 14, more than 400 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, and U.K. Ambassador David Warren, turned out to listen to the Governor of California answer questions moderated by Barry Bergmann, Chair of the ACCJ Special Events Committee, at a breakfast meeting hosted at the Keio Plaza Hotel, Shinjuku.
It is a fair question as to whether many of the attendees came not to see Governor Schwarzenegger, but rather to see the star of the “Terminator” movies in the flesh, a fact recognized by the Governor himself when he told the audience that every time he left Japan (his last visit was in 2005), he said to himself “I’ll be back…!” This broke the ice, and set the stage for an entertaining, but nevertheless informative, session which started with Schwarzenegger’s explanation of how Japanese audiences had helped him become one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars. This led him to deliver an exposition of his philosophy on the global outlook, whether as an action movie star promoting his movies, or as the Governor of California. As Governor, he sees his role as being a helper to neighbors, both geographic (Mexico, Canada) and economic (Korea, China, and of course, Japan), and to lead trade missions, “to let the world know that California is the number one place in the world, with a diversified economy and the most innovative people.”
Answering a question on tourism (630,000 Japanese visit California each year as tourists, 80 percent of all Japanese visitors to the U.S., which he cites as evidence of the Japanese people’s good taste), Schwarzenegger described a (presumably) fictional day in which Californians surf in the morning, ski in the late morning, go golfing in the desert in the afternoon, and spend the evening sipping locally produced red wine. This unique diversity, he claimed, was the key to California’s success as a tourist destination. To make it a dream destination for many people around the world, part of his job is to publicize and market this diversity on a global scale. “Even if you have the best product in the world,” he pointed out, “if no one knows about it, you cannot sell it and it has no value, so the important thing is to market and publicize the product. It means going overseas and shaking hands, and having discussions like the one here and letting the world know what we have to offer.” As an example, he quoted the Mammoth ski resort in northern California (whose representative was part of the trade delegation) to promote what Schwarzenegger called the “most incredible ski mountain in the world.”
Aside from tourism, Californian industries such as produce (fruit and nuts) and beverages (wine) have benefited from the energy and enthusiasm that Schwarzenegger brings to his marketing activities, including local Japanese supermarket appearances to promote these goods.
Seeking to build a high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Schwarzenegger is naturally inviting Japanese companies to bid on this project, along with rail companies from other countries, citing the fact that Japanese rail companies were the first to operate high-speed rail services with no casualties over the years in which they have been operating. To that end, he scheduled to see for himself what a high-speed rail service was like, taking a short trip on a shinkansen immediately after his appearance at the event. Other Japanese technologies in which California has an interest include medical and transportation equipment.