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October 24, 2017

This week, more than 450 delegates from Japan and seven southeastern U.S. states visited Greenville for the Southeast-U.S.-Japan Association (SEUS-Japan) 40th Annual Joint Meeting
 
Created in 1976 to promote trade, investment, understanding and friendship between Japan and U.S. member states, this year’s event focused on “Success through Tradition, Innovation & Partnerships.” Hosting the event is an honor for the Upstate, and local civic leader Minor Shaw serves as the first female chairman of the event, uniting an effort led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce in partnership with more than 50 public and private event sponsors. 
 
This year’s dialogue focused on both Japanese investment in the United States, and on the Japanese policy imperatives – continued trade, alignment of response to North Korean military threats – that are key to maintaining a collaborative relationship. 
 
The Greenville News summarizes the event’s Opening Ceremony in an Oct. 23 article, “Southern governors tout growing business ties with Japan”
 
“Maintaining a close relationship with the United States, economically and politically, is a cornerstone of their security strategy, the Japanese delegates said. South Carolina has been one of the winners in that strategy, with Japanese companies investing nearly $3.4 billion here since 2011 and South Carolina companies exporting nearly $1.1 billion in goods to Japan last year alone, according to Upstate Alliance.
 
About 190 Japanese companies have a presence in South Carolina, and about 55 of those are in the Upstate, according to the Upstate Alliance. These range from Fujifilm in Greenwood to Jtekt Automotive in Greenville. Since 2007, Japanese companies have invested more than $2.2 billion in the Upstate, third behind Germany and France, and created about 2,500 jobs, according to Upstate Alliance.” 
 
While it’s true that the Palmetto State and our region share deep economic connectivity with Japan, perhaps more telling is the depth of connections shared throughout the country, and especially within the participating SEUS states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee). 
 
In his opening address, Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae said that Japanese companies have invested $424 billion in America and created 859,000 direct American jobs across an array of industries. He then read figures for recent Japanese announcements made across the seven SEUS states. 
2017-10-SEUS-GVL-117.JPG
 
In their remarks, governors and state representatives also cited the impact of Japanese investment: 
 
“Bryant of Mississippi pointed to a Nissan factory that has churned out 350,000 cars and a Toyota Corolla factory that produces a car every 17 seconds. North Carolina's Cooper said Japanese companies there employ more than 22,000 North Carolinians. Alabama's secretary of commerce, Greg Canfield, said the Honda plant there has an annual economic impact of $7 billion. Tennessee economic development commissioner Bobby Rolfe said his state exports $1.7 billion in goods annually to Japan. And the head of Georgia's technical college system, Gretchen Corbin, said about 500 Japanese companies operate in her state” 
 
TOPICS: International, SEUS-Japan
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