As Governor of Nebraska for the last 10 years, we have put a significant focus on making Nebraska the best place to do business in the United States and on our very important relationship with Japan. I am pleased that our relationship and hard work will continue under Governor-elect Pete Ricketts.
I have many people and organizations to thank for their incredible support and partnership throughout the years.
At the top of this list is my deep thanks to the nation of Japan for being a solid trade and investment partner. Japan has been a key collaborator in sharing valuable educational and research opportunities as well as exchanging students, top university professors and education leaders.
Our long-standing relationship with Japan took a giant step forward when we established the Nebraska Center-Japan in 2006 where Nebraska and Japanese business leaders could comfortably meet to pursue increasing trade and investment opportunities. Japan was the state’s fourth largest export market in 2013 with Nebraska companies posting merchandise exports of more than $566 million, representing 7.7 percent of our total merchandise exports.
During the first half of 2014, Nebraska’s total exports to Japan were nearly $300 million, eclipsing exported goods and services during the same period in 2013.
It is an honor to have more than 30 Japanese-owned businesses calling Nebraska home. Our oldest and most recognizable investment is with Kawasaki Motor Manufacturing. For 40 years, we’ve had the good fortune to partner with Kawasaki in Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln.
Kawasaki’s continued contributions to the city of Lincoln and the State of Nebraska are outstanding and truly immeasurable.
Looking back through my ten-year administration, I have been blessed to grow in partnership and friendship with remarkable individuals and organizations, including Nebraska-Japan Center Executive Director Koji Nagasaka and Office Manager Hisami Imagawa; Bumpei Kawanaka, the honorary attaché for the Kansai area of Japan for more than 20 years. We enjoy two strong twin city relationships between Hastings and Ozu, and Omaha with Shizuoka; as well as Nebraska’s economic partnership with Shizuoka Prefecture since 2005; the Japan External Trade Organization, more widely known as JETRO; and the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conferences.
In fact, Nebraska is excited to be hosting the 50th anniversary of the prestigious Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference in 2018 and we extend an invitation to all company leaders to join us for a very memorable and productive event.
I am confident that Nebraska and Japan will continue to enjoy a strong and enduring relationship under the leadership of my friend, Nebraska Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts. Thank you.