The Mayor’s Trip to Japan

Some meetings have too much at stake to leave to Skype, which is why Mayor Chuck Reed and a small convoy of local officials took a four-day jaunt to Japan last week.

Hoping to resuscitate flights between Mineta San Jose International Airport and Tokyo—which haven’t happened in more than a decade—Reed, along with Kim Walesh, acting director of economic development, and Ed Nelson, director of air service development at Mineta, pressed the flesh Friday morning with All Nippon Airlines CEO Shinichiro Ito.

Nippon, the second-largest carrier in Japan, has a fleet of new Boeing 787 aircrafts. The San Jose delegation pointed out that those aircraft are ideal for Silicon Valley companies which export directly to Tokyo but don’t want to send their goods up 101 and out of SFO.

The get-together was followed by a short trip to see U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief Jim Zumwalt, a California kid from El Cajon, before San Jose’s contingent was shuttled away to meet with executives from Hitachi. The meeting with the electronics giant was described as an effort on local officials’ part to reaffirm Silicon Valley’s long-standing relationship with the company.

Obviously, phone calls, gift baskets and/or pokes on Facebook simply don’t do the trick anymore. Later in the evening, Reed and company got back with Nippon’s bigwigs for dinner. There’s no word on how fast the sake flowed, but the back-slapping probably ended long before the time of the Rising Sun—Reed’s flight left at 8:30am Saturday.

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Read the comments posted by FPMAN on prior blog.  “Mall Security coming to San Jose”  One of the last postings. 
        In todays times San Jose Airport needs to operate longer hours.  This will equal the term “San Jose International Airport”  This action will bring more jobs, save the Police an Fire along with more taxes to San Jose.
        Maybe a little more selection process on how money is spent might help.  Got to love those ping pong ball art on the new garage.  Have to love the granite walls of terminal A.  That requires constant up keep.

    • Yes, the airport curfew should be relaxed. Aircraft engines are getting much quieter. It’s silly for an inbound flight that’s delayed by weather back east to have to divert to SFO or OAK because they don’t want to run afoul of an arbitrary curfew. Speaking as someone who lives just a couple of miles from SJC, if you don’t like the noise, move.

  2. Good work Mayor Reed.

    Also, my thanks to San Francisco Mayor Jean Quan for selecting Chris Moore over Meg Whitman to be the first Chinese-American Police Chief of Egypt.  Although, if Steve Jobs comes back from his medical leave he can resume being Police Chief.

    Then, Chris Moore can move back to the helm of the Milpitas Redevelopment Agency.

  3. What do other tax revenue and job rich Silicon Valley cities have that San Jose does not:

    – years of public and planning policy disasters,  mistakes and insider politics that required business and retailers to locate where they did not want to locate and prohibited locations where they want to be so they located 1/2 or so across city border taking jobs and tax revenues to neighboring city and San Jose residents drove to new jobs, retail stores, auto malls, hotels and downtown’s  

    – business friendly Council that do not let labor’s political boycotts, anti business policies and higher costs encourage new businesses and retailers to locate in other cities

    – lower taxes, business licenses, utilities costs

    – shortage of desirable business locations rather than acres of empty undesirable buildings with no homes, shopping, nice resturants or parks within miles

    – easy fast 60-90 days city approval process

    – city administration that both understands and encourages business creation, new jobs and new retail sales because business pay more in taxes than they cost paying their salaries and benefits

    – create downtown that has little most want but draws criminals, thugs, drunks, drugs, homeless, violence and property damage while discouraging families and couples

    – get it that excessive police in downtown do not make up for widely held opinion that downtown is unsafe with poor shopping, mediocre expensive restaurants and has little most people want so don’t go

    – those who can easily go to other cites for safer entertainment, better shopping, great destination restaurants and free parking  

    – more jobs than employed residents because Council policies and planning decisions made it so

    San Jose created it’s budget, city services and jobs deficits and it will continue until Council and city administration changes to encourage business, jobs and restricts low and moderate housing until city achieves jobs / housing balance numbers like other Silicon Valley cities and large successful California cities

  4. > Hoping to resuscitate flights between Mineta San Jose International Airport and Tokyo— . . .

    Isn’t it enough for Nippon Airways that they get to fly into an airport named for a Japanese-American ethnic victim?

    Sheesh!  What more could they ask for?

  5. My neighbor told me this morning that during the Nippon airline negotiations the San Jose delegation promised to build Godzilla statues around the city to lure Japanese tourists to SJ. 

    Has anyone else heard this?  Seems crazy to me – but I wanted to check here just to be sure.

    • Novice,

      I heard the same rumor just yesterday.  Not only will SJ Airport build giant statues of Godzilla, but the cost will be borne by our own Redevelopment Agency.  Even better news, the statues will contain affordable housing, ten condos in each Godzilla.  Talk about a win-win situation!!!

  6. Breaking News

    Mayor Chuck Reed has announced that he and a small contingent of city officials will be in Oakland next week in an attempt to convince some of that city’s street-level hookers of the marketing opportunities available in the wide-open streets of downtown San Jose. Mr. Reed, a proponent of green industry, is described as excited by the prospect of attracting to the downtown visitors who will spend their money while enjoying themselves off the grid. According to sources familiar with the project, the cost of the junket, rumored to include a security force of 30 police officers, is considered a necessity now that changes to Craigslist has made it difficult to recruit talent via the web.

    “This could be a bonanza for our downtown merchants and our tax coffers,” said Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, adding that, “the sales tax generated from sale of condoms, lubricants, and menthol cigarettes will more than make up for the cost of increased police patrols, which we don’t expect to provide anyway.” The councilman added that, given the prospect of a new agreement with Nippon Airlines, the timing just might be perfect: “You know how those Japanese businessmen love whores!”

    But all may not be rosy. When asked by our correspondent in Oakland for her take on the scheme, veteran prostitute Sofonda Peters said, “The mayor best not be arrivin’ empty-handed, thinkin’ we desperate. Myself, I’ll be expecting some, how you say, incentive—some of that free RDA money I keep hearin’ about.”

    “It’s like they say,” she added with a playful wink, “you got to pay to play, baby.”

  7. Mayor Reed is trying to reverse 20 years of Council bad policies, wasteful spending, too few jobs. too much housing, too high employee pay and pensions and many business killing Council votes

    It happened over many years so will take years to fix and he needs your support

  8. Their is year after year talk that San Jose lacks businesses and jobs so

    Why doesn’t San Jose what other cites do a follow up audit of non renewing businesses licenses with 25 or employees to see if they

    a) went out of business
    b) if they moved out of San Jose
    3) where they moved and why ?

    Don’t hold your breath for San Jose to do what will be an politically embarrassing audit that will probably show San Jose for what it is – a business unfriendly city

    We get continuous BS or factual information from City Hall about how San Jose moves at the speed of business, spends millions to market San Jose to businesses and examples of companies locating or remaining in San Jose with jobs and taxes after RDA pays millions

    What are the facts is RDA millions well spent or does what business community believes that San Jose is business unfriendly and more costly causing growing business to move to other cities true or not ?

    Non Renewal Business License Audit of 25 + employee companies would tell Council and public

    • That’s actually a really great idea.  I suspect that the way the tax system works these days, mega stores, car dealerships and hotels/motels are gold mines for city revenue, but the small business that really are the bell-weather of the communities economic health and contribute to the quality of life are where the battle is being fought and lost as many throw in the towel when fenced in by greedy landlords and obfuscating city bureaucrats (from code enforcement on up).  Seems like more small businesses fail than succeed and unless your the outlet of a chain, San Jose can be especially hard to handle.

      Even the supposedly pro-biz Chamber of Commerce is so busy chasing the prestige of big business members it drops the ball and fighting for the little guys.  Seems like someone should be looking at the big picture, long view, fine detail and do so objectively with an “exit interview” for biz leaving to see what could have made a difference for either staying in business or not moving out of town.  Is incubating small business as important as affordable housing?  I’d say so…  housing, housing, housing and a few corporate campuses don’t a high quality community make.

      Its ironic that the richest companies who need money and considerations the least get the most attention, and those who need it the most are left to wither on the vine.  Not sour grapes…raisins in the valley of hearts delight. How about a small biz ombudsman to help those who really need an advocate at city hall but can’t afford suits who do the finessing for the entitled.

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