SECRETARY BLINKEN: Joe, thank you very, very much, and Melinda, thanks to you as well for bringing all this together. It’s wonderful to be with all of you. And I’m especially glad to make this one of my first conversations here in Japan, because entrepreneurs like you have a critical role to play in building dynamic, innovative economies that create opportunities for people – which is, after all, what this is all about.
The economic relationship between the United States and Japan is powerful and vital, I think, for both of our countries. We’re top trading partners, as you know. We’re top investors in each other’s economies. And of course, we now have over 900,000 Americans whose jobs are tied to Japanese investment.
So we really do have a shared interest in making sure that our governments and our private sectors are working together to make economic ties between us even stronger – for the good of our workers, for the good of our businesses, for the good of our families.
Entrepreneurs like you, I think, are central to that effort. We’ve got to make sure that our policies, that our investments support and develop entrepreneurs, who are often a powerful engine for economic growth and job creation, but specifically women entrepreneurs. You have the drive, the talent, the commitment to start and grow businesses, but often you don’t get the same opportunities or the same support that men receive. When we tear down barriers that are holding women back, we make economies stronger for everyone.
And that’s the spirit that I hope we can have a good conversation today. I’m really here to listen, to learn from your own experiences, your own ideas, and I’m eager to hear you. Thank you.