In March 2016, Hitachi Ltd., a Japanese multinational conglomerate, opened a train manufacturing plant in Miami, Florida. This is the first Hitachi railway manufacturing facility in the United States, and its first project will be to build 136 new Metrorail vehicles for Miami’s transit network. Hitachi stated that the first new Metrorail vehicles will go into service in late 2017 and the whole order will be completed by the first half of 2019. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that Hitachi’s investment has created 100 jobs in the county and will also improve mobility options for its 2.6 million residents.
Hitachi Ltd established its first US subsidiary in 1959, and today its presence in the US has grown to 94 group companies, 14 major Research & Development facilities, 19 main manufacturing sites, and over 20,000 employees. Ranking 89th on the Fortune Global 500, Hitachi is highly diversified with eleven business segments in the US, including financial services, telecommunication & information systems, railway & urban transit systems, and others. These investments are spread across the country. As just a few examples in addition to the new railway manufacturing facility in Miami, the company’s automotive arm has plants and offices in Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, and California, while it expanded a construction machinery plant in North Carolina that in 2012 with a new investment of $97 million, creating an additional 340 full-time jobs there.
Japan has long been a major source of foreign investment and an important trade partner of the United States and for the Miami area in particular. Miami-Dade County imported goods from Japan valued at $558 million in 2014 and the exports from the several congressional districts that encompass the southern tip of Florida also total in the hundreds of millions. Nearly 100 Japanese-owned firms have invested in Florida, employing well over 20,000 people in the state. The close relationship between Florida and Japan also goes beyond economic interests, with many Japanese visiting the state each year and nine sister city relationships, as well as one sister state relationship, shared between Florida and Japan.
Zhengqi Wang is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and is a student at American University.