The recently-established Japan Caucus in the US House of Representatives sent its first congressional delegation to Japan late this summer. Though the group is relatively new, it has quickly grown in the 114th Congress, chaired by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D, TX-20) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R, LA-3). According to the Embassy of Japan in Washington, caucus membership now exceeds 70 members of congress from across the US. The recent trip to Japan was joined by Rep. Castro and Rep. Steve Cohen (D, TN-9), and included meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, and representatives of the Japanese government and members of the business community. The Japanese Embassy described the purpose of the trip as being to strengthen the US-Japan alliance and enhance cooperation at various levels.
The two congressmen also had the opportunity to experience some of Japan’s advanced transportation technology, including a ride on the experimental Super Conducting Magnetically Levitated train and a tour of the plant producing the Toyota Mirai, the company’s first hydrogen fuel cell car. Castro’s home state of Texas enjoys a strong relationship with the automaker, as Toyota announced the relocation of its North America headquarters to Plano last year. A Japanese trade delegation also visited San Antonio and other Texas cities earlier in the summer to explore investment opportunities.
After returning from Japan, Rep. Castro highlighted the positive impact that Japanese investment has had in his district and described the trip as “informative and productive.” Rep. Cohen noted that “Japan has been a great friend to America for many years,” and emphasized the security and economic interests shared by Japan and the US. Both of their home districts enjoy trade and cultural ties to Japan. The 20th District of Texas exported $81 million worth of goods and services to Japan in 2013 and has a sister city relationship with Kumamoto. Tennessee’s 9th District exported $587 million in goods and services to Japan that same year, and is also home to cherry blossom trees donated to the city of Memphis by Japan as a symbol of friendship.
More information on Japan’s impact in every state and congressional district can be found here.