About The Midwest U.S.-Japan Association
For over four decades, business leaders from the Midwest region of the United States and Japan have met on an annual basis to discuss the growth and progress of economic relations of the American Midwest and Japan. The first meeting took place in 1967 when a delegation from the Japan Committee for Economic Development was welcomed in Chicago, Illinois by representatives of the Chicago Association of Commerce & Industry. This initial meeting was designed simply to open a dialogue between executives from diverse business environments. While no great conclusions were drawn from the meeting, those attending decided that annual meetings to discuss economic relations between the Midwest and Japan should be held. The meetings were to serve as a principal forum on the growth of bilateral trade and investment between the Midwest and Japan.
What started in 1967 as simply a meeting of farsighted businessmen from both sides of the Pacific Ocean has grown into the Annual Joint Meetings of the Midwest U.S.-Japan and Japan-Midwest U.S. Associations. The 43rd Joint Meeting, hosted in Tokyo in September of 2011, attracted governors and lieutenant governors of six Midwestern states and the Presidents/CEOs from such companies as Caterpillar Japan Ltd., ADM Far East, Dow Chemical, Toyota Motor Corporation, Teijin Ltd. and Toshiba Corporation.
The Midwest U.S.-Japan Association is comprised of ten member States including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. Membership in the Association is supported by State governments, usually represented by their Departments of Commerce or Economic Development. The governments of these States cooperate within the Association to increase understanding throughout the Midwest business community of Japan’s markets and resources, to showcase the Midwest as America’s most dynamic business environment, and to develop knowledge in Japan of direct foreign investment opportunities in Midwest communities and the export potential of Midwest companies.
Membership in the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association is comprised of corporations that have direct economic ties to Japan or are interested in developing them. The Association has some 100 corporate members including Toyota Motors, Mitsui & Co., Saison Group, Sumitomo Chemical, Kajima Corporation, and Sony. Together the Associations, through their annual Joint Meetings, reinforce the economic, political, and cultural ties that link the national economy of Japan with the regional economy of the Midwest. Recognition was given to the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association in the Global Partnership agreement signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Miyazawa in January, 1992.
James R. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Illinois and now Chairman of the international law firm of Winston & Strawn, chairs the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association. The Directors of the Association are drawn from the public and private sector of member States and are nominated by their respective Governors. In Tokyo, the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association is chaired by Yuzaburo Mogi, Honorary CEO and Chairman of the Board – Kikkoman Corporation, one of Japan’s oldest corporations and best-known brand names.