Big Earthquake in American Trade Circles: Glen Fukushima Goes to Airbus


Glen Fukushima has just been announced President of Airbus Japan. This is huge, earth-shaking news for US-Japan trade types.
Glen Fukushima, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the Japan Policy Research Institute which I co-founded with Chalmers Johnson, has been an American trade policy official and businessman committed to prying open Japan’s markets to American products and services. He would have been a great U.S. Trade Representative himself or even a brilliant U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
Though, I’m pretty sure Glen started off as a Republican — working under Carla Hills years ago at USTR, he gravitated left politically, at least until he got to the sensible center, and like many of us pined for a president who took economic issues seriously. Bill Clinton flirted with economic strategy — and Bob Rubin actually chose a course of manic neoliberalism, which undermined much of what people like Glen and I had been arguing for at the micro-economic level, but still. . .it was strategy.
Glen has headed up AT&T’s operations in Japan, as well as Cadence Electronics. He recently was chief at NCR’s operation — before this Airbus opportunity opened up.
My sense is that Airbus must have offered Glen a pretty lucrative set of incentives to join them. (Glen — next time, the coffee in the Orchid Room is on you; actually, it always has been. He’s a great host). Fukushima has been a tireless warrior for American political and economic interests — but now he’s gone to work for the Europeans.
Of course, the line we all parroted was if we opened up markets for American goods and services, it was good for the world. Now, Glen will be able to say that his success for Europe will also mean success for competition writ large — and for American interests.
A few years ago, I visited the Airbus operation in Toulouse, France and walked through their mock new superjet. The first one off the line sold to Singapore Airlines.
Airbus told me that they knew that Boeing had a nearly impenetrable fortress around Japan, Korea, and Taiwan when it came to airplane sales because of the complicity between American defense policy interests and Boeing sales — but they planned to go right into the shogun’s den, so to speak, and set up an office in Tokyo — and try and seduce some of those Japanese airlines away from their lock-step obligations to the U.S. and Boeing.
They have selected an extremely capable and well-connected guy to do that. What’s more is that the President of Boeing Japan is also on the Board of Directors of the Japan Policy Research Institute and an old friend — and one of Fukushima’s oldest and best friends, Skipp Orr. Dinners with Skipp and Glen are going to be the hot ticket in Tokyo.
I imagine that part of Fukushima’s calculus is that there is no international economic strategy out of the White House any longer — except the absence of strategy. And thus, his self-adopted ethic of fighting for American political and economic leverage in Japan makes no sense when the President and his cabinet hardly give a damn about Japanese markets or market-opening abroad generally any longer.
Very interesting news…..and just to give him appropriate credit, Chris Nelson’s Nelson Report had this in its gossip sheet a month ago — but then retracted it. Fukushima, I think, is a subscriber.
Good job Chris.
— Steve Clemons