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Messages from Keidanren Executives November, 2015 Contribution to Monthly Keidanren

Mary Taylor Lieutenant Governor of Ohio

Ohio has had a long and productive relationship with Japan starting in 1912 when Ohio-born President William Howard Taft ordered two Yoshina Japanese cherry trees to be planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Having lived in Japan, he appreciated both the beauty of cherry blossoms and the importance of a strong relationship between the United States and Japan.

Forward ahead sixty-five years later to 1977 and an important Ohio-Japanese relationship was forged that continues to pay enormous dividends to both parties. Soichiro Honda and Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes created a partnership that has yielded thousands of jobs and millions in investment in our state, transforming our economic landscape for generations.

Today, Honda directly employs approximately 13,500 Ohioans, and another 13,000 have jobs in its supply chain. Meanwhile, Hitachi, Nifco, Bridgestone, Mitsubishi Chemical, TS Tech, Kao Corporation, Makino and scores of other Japanese companies have also established themselves as major employers in Ohio.

In fact, Japan is the top investor country in Ohio. Over the past dozen years, Japanese companies have created more than 9,000 jobs and made capital investments of more than $3.6 billion in Ohio. Japan has brought innovation in machinery, aircraft, vehicles, oil seed, medical equipment and many other products to the United States through the years. We also benefit from the billions of dollars in Japanese products we import each year.

In addition to good jobs and great products, the Japanese presence in the state of Ohio has added to our diverse culture and made us stronger.

Ohio currently enjoys a strong sister-state relationship with Saitama. We have 12,320 Japanese nationals in Ohio. Almost 2,500 students study the Japanese language at 25 of our college and universities and more than 1,000 students study the Japanese language at 15 high schools and two elementary and middle schools.

Today, we continue to look for ways to strengthen our state to make us an even better partner to Japan for continued generations.

We are providing easy access to materials, markets and supply chain, and offering advanced information technology and digital infrastructure to companies.

In fact, Ohio is ranked the best international trade zone in the Midwest. We offer the lowest tax rate in the Midwest on new capital investments and impose no tax on corporate profits, tangible personal property, machinery, equipment, research and development investments, and products sold to customers outside of Ohio. We also offer a great place to call home with an abundance of Japanese markets and restaurants.

Meanwhile, we know that we must take every opportunity to reduce economic barriers between the United States and Japan. In September, a delegation of Ohio’s top economic development executives traveled to Tokyo for the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association to discuss ways to expand economic growth and improve economic relations.

We know that to reach our full potential we must look not only beyond our own borders, but also beyond our hemisphere. It is clear that the people of Japan know this, too.

Together, we will nurture the relationship that began at the Potomac River nearly one hundred years ago into one that creates even more opportunities and improves the quality of life for all of our citizens.