Dentsu PR aligns with think tank for insight into Japan-US relations

The arrangement is the first of its kind for the Japanese agency.

Amid uncertainty about trade and diplomacy between Japan and the U.S., Dentsu Public Relations has formed a partnership with an American think tank, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), in a move it hopes will upgrade its public affairs capabilities.

The NBR examines economic, political and security issues concerning the U.S. and Asian countries. Within those, its areas of focus span trade, energy, medicine, health and welfare. As part of the NBR’s chairman’s council, Dentsu PR will be involved in research on policy issues affecting the U.S. and Japan.

Dentsu PR said the insights it hoped to generate would prove "critical to the advancement of clients' global strategies, while also offering enhanced intelligence-based consulting support." Kazunori Azeyanagi, president and chief executive of Dentsu PR, said in an interview with Campaign that public affairs was a weak point for the company and he believed the partnership would change that.

"Of course we need to be able to handle public affairs in Japan but we also need to look at how international public affairs affects Japanese clients," he said. "In terms of trade and security the U.S. and its policies have a big effect on Japan. So we want to pick up the issues that concern the U.S.-Japan relationship at the earliest stage possible.

"By combining that information with our own analysis and research, we’ll provide value to our clients," he added.

Azeyanagi said Dentsu PR had not worked with a think tank before. He said he thought working with a neutral body would be a better way to understand international issues than partnering with an American PR agency. But he said Dentsu PR still saw merit in such partnerships in other contexts.

Japan's domestic PR industry would benefit from more awareness of international standards, he added.

"As it stands, the PR industry in Japan in not very global," he said. "It's unique and very Japanese. I think the big change is going to come when the current media takes on a different form and in preparation for that we need to understand the landcape and what's going on globally, how things operate overseas. If we try to adapt once it changes, it will be too late."

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