As fans filled Tokyo Dome to watch two American teams face off, Washington state business leaders collaborated with their Japanese counterparts for their ‘Business and Baseball’ tour.
(AWB) met with Japanese firm leaders and members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan for a four-day discussion on strengthening the economic and cultural ties between Washington State and Japan on March 19th. The group met with the leaders of the US embassy, Japanese firms, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan; they also attended the opening games for the new Major League Baseball season, where the Seattle Mariners played the Oakland A’s at the Tokyo Dome. The trip included several trade panels, and a tour of the Costco Japan headquarters in Kawasaki.
It is no coincidence that many Washingtonians saw the recent season opener as an opportunity to further deepen the economic and cultural ties between Japan and Washington State. Japan is Washington State’s third largest trading partner, with exports to Japan totaling $6 billion in 2017. Japanese businesses account for almost sixteen thousand jobs in just Washington State alone. Beyond the economic ties, Japan and Washington share 38 sister partnerships, over 1600 international students from Japan in Washington state schools, and in 2017 Japanese visitor spending totaled half a billion dollars.
The AWB is the oldest business association in the state of Washington and serves in the state’s chamber of commerce, but they were not the only attendees. Members of the Washington State Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, the Japan Business Association of Seattle, the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, and the Greater Seattle Partners joined the AWB for this multi-day trip. Many of these individuals took to twitter to chronicle the whirlwind trip under the hashtag ‘AWBinJapan’ or through their personal twitter accounts, such as that of AWB’s CEO Kris Johnson, or Washington State Department of Commerce head Lisa Brown. Their messages suggest progress and fun for all parties involved.
Madeline Wiltse is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a first-year graduate student studying American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University, and has a Bachelor's in International Studies with a region focus on Japan from the University of Washington.