In an effort to further improve its bilateral trade relationship with Japan, the US Trade Representative recently released its negotiation objectives for a possible US-Japan trade agreement. However, while the media attention understandably tends to focus on such relationship-altering bilateral agreements, behind diplomatic headlines are the everyday local business and personal connections Americans and Japanese nationals have fostered for years. Throughout this week, the East-West Center in Washington will be actively participating in a number of programs that will discuss the role Japanese investment plays in the local US economies, and more broadly, why Japan matters for America.
Satu Limaye — Director of the East-West Center in Washington, and creator of the Asia Matters for America project — will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky where he will participate in an event, The U.S.-Japan Alliance Working in Kentucky — Panel and Sake Tasting, on March 6, 2019. This is one of two events sponsored by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation discussing the nature and breadth of Japan-Kentucky people-to-people ties and business relations. Kentucky has a significant relationship with Japan. In terms of economic ties, the state exports a total of $1.5 billion goods and services to Japan, particularly in the form of transportation equipment and other manufacturing industries. These exports support over 9,000 jobs for the state. In fact, according to the Kentucky government website, Japan is Kentucky’s ninth largest export destination, and is Kentucky’s largest foreign investor, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Toyota Motor Company’s 8.1 million square-foot manufacturing plant in Kentucky can produce 550,000 vehicles and over 600,000 engines and employs more than 8,000 people, making it the largest Toyota plant in the world.
In addition to participating in the Sasakawa event in Kentucky, Dr. Limaye will also be traveling to Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles, California to participate in further discussions held by the Japan-America Societies in Washington and Southern California regarding the future of US-Japan business ties.
Matthew Sullivan is a Projects Coordinator at the East-West Center in Washington.