Interviewees: Mr. Philippe Arseneau (President), Mr. Yuji Obata (Vice-President) & Ms. Genevieve Poirier (MEDIE) Quebec-Japan Business Forum @Montreal （Date: August 29, 2007; Place: Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation & Exports, 380 Saint-Antoine West, 5th floor; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao）
Quebec-Japan Business Forum President Philippe Arseneau (JAL), along with other members including Mr. Yuji Obata (Brother Int’l Corp.) and Ms. Genevieve Poirier (MEDIE), explained the historical background of the Forum and its current and future roles in revitalizing business relations between Quebec and Japan. Some new ideas were presented to attract more Japanese business to Montreal and the Province as a whole, as summarized below.
Summary of Mr. Arseneau’s Interview
Quebec-Japan Business Forum started about two decades ago, when Japanese financial institutions contributed a substantial amount of money to launch a forum for matching Japanese large companies with their counterparts in Quebec. Since then, many of the Japanese financial institutions and large companies have left Montreal and the Forum has undergone basic change in character from the big business orientation to a more diverse business activity with smaller companies in Quebec. Now the Forum membership encompasses almost all industries, and 30-40 company representatives regularly attend conferences and seminars organized by the Forum, where Japanese speakers explain their business to Quebec members or vice versa. In this atmosphere, a kind of synergy among small innovative companies seems to be emerging to develop newly expanding business opportunities for both Quebec and Japan. In a sense, this reflects the recent development of the Quebec economy, which is more oriented toward innovative high-tech industries than before. As for the future of Quebec-Japan business relations, there are many opportunities to explore and, among other things, tourism may seem quite promising. Currently a relatively small number of tourists are visiting Quebec, mainly for viewing autumn colors, but many more can travel all around Montreal, Quebec City and the rest of the Province throughout the year, if more active PR and marketing campaigns are conducted to attract Japanese tourists to Quebec. There should be direct flights connecting Montreal and Japanese cities, and that would benefit the both sides, as Japan would also like to attract more tourists from Quebec.
Summary of Other Members’ Comments
Mr. Yuji Obata: More interactions should be generated between Japanese research institutions and their counterparts in Quebec in order to encourage innovations in business and society both in Quebec and Japan, which could not survive in global competition without innovations. On the both sides there seem to be many excellent researchers and engineers, who are ready to interact with each other in such high-tech fields as optoelectronics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc.
Ms. Genevieve Poirier: Creative and Innovative ideas in Quebec are quite visible in design and fashion, and creatively designed products, e.g., furniture, in Quebec are very popular among young people in big cities all over the world, especially in Japanese cities. Quebec should make use of its creative and innovative ideas to develop a closer business relationship with Japan in the future.