On February 16, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, along with the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago and several partner organizations, hosted the Japan-Northeast Indiana Summit. The event exemplifies the ever-developing economic ties between the business communities of Japan and Indiana. With both government and private sector representatives present, attendees were able to exchange ideas, learn from industry experts, and build on the long-standing relationship that has brought positive economic impact. Over 280 Japanese-owned companies exist in the Hoosier state, making this Summit a prime event for those operating in the northeast region.
During the Summit, Consul-General Naoki Ito shared his remarks as a representative of the Japanese government to Indiana, assuring the Japanese business community’s commitment to the state. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger also shared his thoughts on the existing cooperation, emphasizing both the importance of current Japanese operations in the state and the hope for future partnerships.
The northeast is not the only region of Indiana that has prioritized economic relations with Japan. Members of the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership have also visited the country to affirm the state’s relationship with existing Japanese industry partners. Furthermore, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb traveled to Japan in September 2017, along with 4 other Midwestern governors, to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the annual Midwest-US Japan Association Meeting, which has been held every year since 1967.
As of 2017, Indiana has the highest Japanese investment per capita of any US state. Moreover, several Indiana-based companies have also established operations in Japan. Going beyond investment, 19 universities in Indiana offer Japan Studies programs and 16 sister city ties exist, displaying how Japan and Indiana are connected on multiple fronts.
Karunia "Karin" Silitonga is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a recent graduate of Baylor University.