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U.S. Japan Council 8th Annual Conference

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
U.S. Japan Council 8th Annual Conference
Washington, D.C.
Monday, November 13, 2017

Thank you for that kind introduction, Jill [Nishi, Chief of Staff for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation]

Good afternoon!  Let me acknowledge Minister Yoshino, the Japanese Minister of Disaster Reconstruction for the Tohoku region; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; Ambassador Sasae; President Irene Hirano Inouye of the U.S. Japan Council; Ambassador Roos; Ambassador Schieffer, and Japan’s Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Masaharu Kohno.   I am so pleased to join you today for the U.S.-Japan Council 8th Annual Conference.

Today’s event is a tribute to the strong, enduring ties between Japan and the United States.  It honors the vision of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye—one of the organization’s co-founders—whom my husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and I knew well.

The Council’s mission—to foster engagement and understanding between America and the Asia-Pacific region—is more important than ever.   Let me congratulate Prime Minister Abe for inviting First Daughter Ivanka Trump to address the subject of women’s entrepreneurship at the World Assembly for Women that just concluded in Tokyo.  As a successful entrepreneur in her own right, the First Daughter is passionate about helping women access opportunity and achieve their dreams.  In support of the U.S. Japan Economic Dialogue, I signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on October 16th between the U.S. Department of Transportation and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to enhance cooperation between our two countries in the transportation sector.

This afternoon, permit me to share a few thoughts on the innovation economy, and what the Department of Transportation is doing to prepare our country’s transportation infrastructure for the future.

My three priorities as Secretary of Transportation are: safety, infrastructure, and preparing for the future by preserving innovation.

That last point is especially important because transportation is on the verge of one of the most transformational eras in history.  I’m referring to new, disruptive technologies that have the potential to change the way we travel and connect with one another. These disruptors include: automated-- or self-driving—vehicles; drones; new systems to guide and provide surface transportation; hyperloop; commercial space ventures, and many more.   In the not-too-distant future, vehicles will talk to one another, and communicate with the infrastructure around them.  So one of the biggest challenges facing our transportation infrastructure is to integrate these technologies, while ensuring, safety, security and privacy.   

The U.S. Department of Transportation has a role to play in building and shaping this future by developing a regulatory framework that encourages innovation, and the safe testing and deployment of new technologies.

That’s why on September 12th, I announced A Vision for Safety 2.0.  It is a framework to promote improvements in transportation safety, mobility, and access through automated driving systems (ADS).  Change is so rapid, however, that the Department is already at work on the next version of this automated vehicle guidance!

And on November 2nd, I announced The Drone Integration Pilot Program. It will accelerate the safe integration of drones into our airspace by creating new partnerships between local governments, the FAA, and private drone operators. These partnerships will allow local communities to experiment with new drone applications including package delivery, emergency inspections, and more, on terms that work for them and in ways that support a unified and safe airspace.

These are just two of examples of disruptive technologies that the Department is addressing.  There are more to come.  Creativity and innovation are one of the hallmarks of America. Our job at the Department is to prepare the way for the integration of new technologies, so they can be safely deployed and usher in a new era of service, access and mobility.

Thank you for inviting me to share thoughts about my priorities as Secretary of Transportation. And thank you for everything you are doing to build bridges of understanding and cooperation between East and West.