LINCOLN – This week, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development have been hosting members of a visiting Japanese business delegation. The delegation’s visit coincides with the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting in Omaha.
“The relationship between Japan and Nebraska is very strong,” said Governor Ricketts. “Japan is actually the third largest importer of our products here in the State of Nebraska—almost $800 million. Japan is also the largest direct foreign investor in our state. I am very pleased to have all of our Japanese visitors, including the very prestigious Keidanren organization, here in Nebraska.”
The delegates — members of Keidanren, a prestigious Japanese economic organization comprised of upper-level, c-suite business leaders — have been touring Nebraska firms and meeting with state officials and business leaders to discuss the important trade, business, and investment relationships that exist today between Nebraska and Japan.
Japan is one of the top five importers of Nebraska products such as beef, pork, and soybeans. Nebraska has also benefitted from over $4.4 billion in foreign direct investment from Japanese companies since 2010, supporting thousands of jobs.
Top executives from Canon, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nomura Securities,Tokio Marine Insurance, and Toyota comprised the visiting delegation. Also visiting were Naoki Ito, the Consul General of Japan in Chicago, and Ralph Inforzato, the Director of JETRO Chicago, among other officials.
The leaders of the delegation, Mr. Hayakawa of Toyota and Mr. Murase of Canon Marketing Japan, echoed Governor Ricketts’ comments and emphasized how greatly Japanese companies appreciate the business-friendly environment the State of Nebraska has offered for many years.
“We appreciate the deep understanding and acknowledgement of the benefits brought by free trade and investments by Japanese companies. We sincerely hope that Japan and America further their cooperation by leading the way in the promotion of a rules-based framework for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region. This will raise the standards for the protection of intellectual property as well as create a level playing field for labor market regulations,” the delegation leaders remarked.
Arriving Wednesday, Keidanren spent the evening in Omaha, touring local Japanese artist Mr. Jun Kaneko’s private studio and enjoying Nebraska beef at 801 Chophouse. On Thursday, the delegates headed to Lincoln, where they toured the Kawasaki plant and met with executives, before meeting with Governor Ricketts at a media event held at the State Capitol Building. Today, the delegates attended a roundtable discussion on international trade and investment at Creighton University before meeting with officials from Gavilon and Union Pacific.
On Saturday, the delegation will make its way to Omaha’s CenturyLink Center for the Berkshire Hathaway conference.
Nebraska will host the 50th annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association this September.