Walker celebrates Wisconsin-Japan trade relationship at Omaha conference

Wisconsin State Farmer
In this file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the annual meeting of the Midwest U.S-Japan Association, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The group, founded in 1967, meets yearly to discuss the growth and progress of economic relations of the American Midwest and Japan.

OMAHA – Governor Scott Walker and leaders from Japan and 10 Midwestern states met at the 50th anniversary of the Midwest U.S.- Japan Association Conference to discuss the importance of maintaining and growing trade relations.

“Wisconsin’s trade relationship with Japan is critically important as the country is our sixth largest trade partner and is our fifth largest export destination,” said Walker in a news release. “Today’s conference is more than an opportunity to celebrate 50 years of the Midwest-U.S. Japan Association, it is also an opportunity to grow our economic relationship. Through expanded trade, and the continued development of companies that are in both Japan and Wisconsin, like Kikkoman, Harley-Davidson, and Johnson Controls, we will see both our countries benefit. This relationship is win-win.”

Held every year, the Midwest Japan Association Conference brings together Japan and 10 Midwestern states: Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois to discuss ways to enhance the economic relationship between Midwestern states and Japan, according to the release.

In 2017, Wisconsin exported more than $789 million in products, ranging from scientific and medical instruments to dairy products, to Japan.

Another major component of the Wisconsin-Japan economic relationship is foreign direct investment. There are 33 Japanese businesses with operations in Wisconsin, and 27 Wisconsin businesses with operations in Japan.

One of those companies with operations in Wisconsin is Kikkoman Corporation, which has been operating in the state for 45 years with their first production plant opening in Walworth in 1973.

Since its first brewery opened, the company has continued to invest in Wisconsin, including in 2007 when a research and development laboratory was established at the University of Wisconsin Research Park in Madison. The company invested again in Wisconsin in 2013, when it announced a $1 million grant to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science.