A delegation of Tennessee World Affairs Council board members recently paid a call on Consul-General of Japan Motohiko Kato to update him on the group’s work in global awareness education. TNWAC President Patrick Ryan and fellow board members Ambassador Dick Bowers and Susan Turner met Mr. Kato and Consulate Political Analyst Sarah Hinde Case at the West End Avenue, Nashville office.
They discussed the importance and strength of the American-Japanese relationship in many spheres including national security, trade and investment, and academic and cultural exchanges. Ryan told the Japanese CG that Americans shared in the shock of the catastrophic Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami when they struck in 2011 and how they admired the Japanese people were for their resilience and tenacity. Kato commented on the humanitarian support that the United States provided to aid the survivors. He also talked about the importance and readiness of Americans and Japanese to work together citing the cooperation displayed during his experiences at his country’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan as the international community worked to stabilize that nation.
Ambassador Bowers and Ms. Turner talked about the programs the Council organizes in Tennessee to encourage a greater knowledge of international developments and the global community. Mr. Kato provided updated information about the economic commitment made by Japanese businesses in the United States generally, and specifically in the case of Tennessee. As of 2012 over 34,000 Tennesseans were employed in many of the 177 Japanese firms in the state, representing an investment of over $14 billion. The importance of Japanese investment to Tennessee’s economy was highlighted by this week’s announcement of a $109 million expansion of Calsonic Kansei North America, a key supplier for Nissan automotive in the state. The move which will add 1,200 jobs follows Nissan’s plans to add 900 workers to its Smyrna operation to support production of a vehicle being moved from Japan to the U.S. this fall.
Mr. Kato told the Council board members that the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville has jurisdiction over five states in the South: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Currently, approximately ten thousand Japanese are living and as many as 370 Japanese companies are operating in this area. He said his office provides consular services and support to Japanese citizens and companies and hosts business seminars.
The TN WAC board members told Mr. Kato they looked forward to hosting global awareness programs in the future featuring Japan-US relations and culture, and issues related to East Asian security and trade.
The importance of the Japan-Tennessee trade relationship was described by Governor Bill Haslam following last year’s Southeast US-Japan conference. [Video Below]