Japan Matters for America hit the road in early September as East-West Center in Washington Director Dr. Satu Limaye joined the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (SPFUSA) in Atlanta, Georgia for a three-day long program highlighting Georgia’s ties to Japan. The program, part of SPFUSA’s The Alliance Working in America (TAWA) series featured a delegation including Dr. Limaye, SPFUSA Chairman Admiral Dennis Blair, SPFUSA CEO Ambassador James Zumwalt, and President and CEO of the World Affairs Councils (WAC) of America Bill Clifford.
During the “Japan & Georgia, Growing Together” lunch discussion co-hosted by the WAC of Atlanta, the delegation was joined by local speakers such as WAC Atlanta President Ambassador Charles Shapiro, and President of YKK Corporation of America Jim Reed, discussed the role of the US-Japan alliance and its impact on Japanese investment in the state. Georgia has a long and rich history with Japan, with Macon, GA becoming the first US city to host a Japanese company in the 1970s. A short documentary produced by the Georgia Department of Economic Development highlighted how the state is now home to more than 500 Japanese-affiliated companies that employ over 30,000 Georgians.
Japanese companies based in Georgia — such as Rinnai, Hitachi, and YKK — also extend their work outside business to promote US-Japanese cultural exchange, participating in events like Japan Fest, the largest Japanese festival in the Southeast, which has been held for 32 years. Additionally, US-Japan community organizations strengthen cultural connections, with Atlanta being home to a Japan-America Society, Japanese language schools, tea ceremony groups, and even a bonsai organization. Georgia House Resolution 1162 celebrates the lasting impact of Japan in the state by commemorating the 40th anniversary of the consulate in Atlanta.
In another event, Ambassador Zumwalt spoke at Spelman College and Morehouse College to discuss the advantages of foreign studies and study abroad, as well as the impact of the US-Japan relationship. The number of American students studying abroad in Japan has steadily increased since 2011. Over 7,000 Americans studied in Japanese universities during the 2015/16 school year, making Japan the 10th most popular destination for American students globally.
To learn more about the US-Japan relationship check out our print publication Japan Matters for America/America Matters for Japan and interactive data visualizations.
Caitlin Brophy is a Programs Coordinator and Karen Mascarinas is a Projects Coordinator, both at the East-West Center in Washington.
Image credit: Forten Media