In Japan, Schwarzenegger hawks California wine and technology, test rides bullet train

By Jay Alabaster, AP
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Schwarzenegger hawks California goods in Japan

TOKYO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took his sales pitch to Tokyo, hawking his state’s technology, tourism and wines on the second stop of his Asian tour.

“You will see me selling here in Japan for these next 24 hours,” he told about 500 people at a breakfast arranged by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Schwarzenegger, whose popularity at home is at an all-time low as the California economy falters and state politicians wrangle over a $19 billion deficit, has said he would serve as “salesman-in-chief” during the trip.

He wasted no time Tuesday morning, talking up California’s surfing, skiing and golf offerings, as well as its technology centers and wineries.

The governor is on a weeklong trade mission with about 100 business leaders from his state. He visited China over the weekend and was due to depart Tuesday evening for South Korea.

While he made clear the focus of his trip was to promote California goods, he is also taking test rides on high-speed trains throughout the region. California has approved $10 billion in funding for a high-speed line that is expected to cost more than $40 billion, and manufacturers from around the world are pitching their technologies.

On Tuesday he boarded an experimental Japanese “bullet train” in Tokyo and took a 25-minute ride to a station in Saitama, just north of the city, along with U.S. Ambassador John Roos. Japanese trains are known for their advanced technology and high safety, but are expensive and designed mainly for domestic use.

“I’m very impressed with the technology and also with the infrastructure,” he told reporters on the train platform, but stopped short of saying Japan was ahead of rivals.

“You have to look at which system is the most alike to the California challenge,” he said.

He rode the train after a brief meeting with Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, and was to visit a Japanese supermarket and give a plug for Californian wine before leaving for South Korea. On Monday evening he met Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who spoke to him about the strengths of Japan’s train technology.

Schwarzenegger has visited Japan many times and is well known in the country, both for his success as an actor and his roll as a pitchman for prominent products, including instant noodles and vitamin drinks.

“Every time I come to Japan I say ‘I’ll be back,’” he said.

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