Gov. Bruce Rauner stressed the need to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship at today’s launch of the 49th Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference. The conference, which continues through Tuesday, unites business, education and government leaders in an effort to further trade and investment opportunities between the Midwest states and Japan.
“Japanese companies have been instrumental in creating jobs and driving economic development through the entire state of Illinois,” the governor said. “From Chicago to Shelbyville and Lawrenceville, from Marion to Mattoon, Japanese companies have made a tremendous impact on the economic growth of these towns. I am deeply grateful for the jobs and opportunities provided to the people of Illinois.”
The day began with a private breakfast with U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty. Shortly following, the governor met Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe before the MWJA Conference opening ceremony. This is the second time the governor has attended the conference.
Japan continues to be a high priority for federal direct investment. The governor and members of Illinois’ delegation spent part of the afternoon meeting with the clothing, manufacturer and retail company, Uniqlo. Uniqlo’s Chicago store is one of 630 Japanese businesses throughout Illinois.
“It is not that often that we gather together, but when we do, like for this conference, we unite with an unprecedented strength on economic growth,” Gov. Rauner said while addressing governors in attendance. “We need to send the message that our growth is interdependent.”
The governor said that while Midwest cooperation is necessary for expansion, Illinois is working to maintain its lead by continually working in close contact with Japan regarding foreign investment opportunities. The Illinois foreign trade office in Japan is a testament to Illinois’ commitment to the marketplace, as it’s one of the oldest state trade and investment offices in Japan, dating back 32 years.