Japanese Recovery Could Spark Silicon Valley Growth - NBC Bay Area

Japanese Recovery Could Spark Silicon Valley Growth

A switch to greener, cleaner technologies could spurn business for the Bay Area.



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    Japanese police officers carry a body during search and recovery operation for missing victims in the area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Friday, April 15, 2011. In the background is part of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

    On March 11, the world will mark the one year anniversary of the devastating tsunami and earthquake in northeastern Japan.

    And as the country still tries to recover a year later, some of the economic opportunities of rebuilding will come home to the Bay Area, according to one expert.

    Masahiko Aoki, a senior fellow at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, says demand for green technology and new information technology will be in high demand in Japan and that is good news for the Bay Area, which is ground zero for the two worlds.

    "Energy efficiency is starting to take precedence when people talk about rebuilding," he said. "And Japan will look, and is already looking, to Silicon Valley for solutions."

    The emeritus professor of economics and Japanese studies at Stanford said the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant shook Japanese society's confidence in nucleur energy.

    Instead he said the country wants to invest in alternative energies, which could open the door to investment in Silicon Valley companies.

    Fellow Stanford alum, Kenji Kushida, researcher at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, told the Stanford News Service that disaster can often spark innovation and investment.

    He equated the current interest in alternative energy to a time when Japanese car-makers began making more fuel efficient cars to deal with rising gas prices.

    "In the devastated areas there will be massive budgets to rebuild cities and to reinvest in local industries, and some of those delegations are looking into what technologies from Silicon Valley they can use to be more efficient and less dependent on nuclear power," Kushida said.

    The two Stanford alums expect the full transition to alternative energy to be a long one in Japan, with some recent political conversation centering around finding a mix of energy sources.

    But both agree that the impacts in the transition to go green could have a major impact on the Silicon Valley.