Naoki Ito, the consul general of Japan in Chicago, spent two days in Wisconsin highlighting the important contributions of Japanese-owned businesses to communities.

Consul General Ito traveled with the Grassroots Caravan, an initiative to connect with local communities where Japanese companies have invested. The Grassroots Caravan was created in September 2017 as a joint venture between the Consulate-General of Japan and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Chicago.

Ito visited Fujifilm Medical Systems, Komatsu Mining Corp., and Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee on August 15. He then traveled to Waupaca on August 16 to visit the Waupaca Foundry of Hitachi Metals.

“We are delighted to bring the Grassroots Caravan to Wisconsin for the first time, and to further deepen our two-way economic partnership,” said Consul General Ito. “So many Japanese companies are succeeding in Wisconsin, owing to their good investment climate and the strong work ethic of Wisconsinites. Currently 82 Japanese business facilities provide more than 7,100 jobs here. We wish to reach out to the communities where they work to promote our business relationship.”

The consul general’s visit comes just weeks before Governor Tony Evers is scheduled to visit Japan on his first international trade mission, from September 6 to 14. The governor plans to visit Tokyo, Yokohama, and Chiba City to meet with officials from Japanese companies doing business in Wisconsin, to attend the 2019 Japan–Midwest U.S. Association Conference, and to promote Wisconsin exports to Japan.

Wisconsin exported $734.3 million worth of goods to Japan in 2018. The state’s exports to Japan declined 6.9% from 2017 to 2018; however, they rose 11.0% in the first quarter of 2019 over the same period last year. Japan is the sixth-highest destination for Wisconsin exports, with top categories including industrial machinery, which grew 44% alone in the first quarter of this year; medical and scientific instruments; electrical machinery; and prepared meat and seafood products.

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Lee Matz