The 40th annual Joint Meeting of the Japan/U.S. Southeast Association and the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association took place this October in Greenville, South Carolina and focused on the theme of “Success through Tradition, Innovation and Partnerships.” Georgia was well represented with a delegation of more than sixty people, second in size only to the host state delegation from South Carolina. Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, served as Georgia’s Head of Delegation. Ms. Corbin was joined by government leaders and economic developers from across the state as well as representatives from Japanese companies in Georgia including YKK Corporation of America, Miura America Company, Kajima Building and Design and Shimizu North America. Both the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, H.E. Bill Hagerty, and the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Kenichiro Sasae, attended the Conference as distinguished guests and speakers. Consul General Takashi Shinozuka, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, was also in attendance and addressed the full joint delegation on Monday morning.
The state of Georgia has a long and important history with Japan, with the state’s first international economic development office opening in Tokyo in 1973. Managing Director for Georgia’s Japan office, Yumiko Nakazono, joined GDEcD’s Atlanta-based trade and investment representatives at this year’s SEUS-Japan meeting in Greenville. Ms. Nakazono works with GDEcD team members to assist Japanese companies interested in investing in Georgia as well as Georgia companies seeking export opportunities in Japan. Japan remains a leading investor nation in Georgia ranking first based on total dollar value of investment and third based on total number of facilities. Georgia is home to nearly 500 Japanese facilities that provide more than 24,000 jobs for Georgians.
Over the course of the meeting, participants celebrated the strong economic and diplomatic partnership between Japan and the Southeast states. They discussed issues of common interest and affirmed their commitment to continue building this mutually beneficial relationship through collaboration and innovation. Expert guest speakers shared their views during panel sessions focused on U.S.-Japan bilateral relations and labor force trends and challenges facing Japan and the Southeast states. Additional speakers covered a range of topics including globalization, trade and new geopolitical challenges. Delegates also had the opportunity to explore Greenville through a variety of tours that included visits to Jocassee Lake, Clemson University, the South Carolina Botanical Gardens, Fluor Field and downtown Greenville.
The 40th Annual Joint Meeting concluded with remarks from Ambassador Jim Zumwalt, CEO of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Mr. Zumwalt’s address emphasized the value of maintaining a strong trade and investment relationship between Japan and the Southeast U.S. Next year’s SEUS-Japan event will take place October 18-20, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Georgia will host the 42nd Annual Joint Meeting in 2019.