Japan/America News

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News may be submitted through the JASK office: programs@jask.org. Comment on articles to share your opinions.
  • 19 Sep 2013 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    Kentucky Names New Economic Development Representative in Asia

    Japan-based office cultivates partnerships with Asian companies, works to locate or expand business within the Commonwealth

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2013) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced the Cabinet for Economic Development has named Hiraku Tamura as its next economic development representative in Japan.

    The Tokyo native last served as president of Metal One Office Corp., a Japanese logistics service company, and has nearly four decades of experience in the field of international business.

    “We welcome Hiraku Tamura and the wealth of knowledge he brings to the table,” said Gov. Beshear. “We have every confidence that he will excel in this position as Kentucky’s top recruiter of Asian business and investment, which is a vital role in continuing to strengthen our economy.”

    Kentucky has grown into an attractive business destination worldwide, with nearly 100 foreign companies locating facilities in the Commonwealth over the last decade.


    In 2012, nearly 35 percent of all capital investment and almost 20 percent of new jobs announced in the manufacturing, service and technology sector were a result of foreign-owned companies.


    In addition to an economic development office in Japan, Kentucky also maintains an office in Hamburg, Germany, which works to cultivate new and existing relationships with European-based companies.


    “I am extremely excited to embrace this new opportunity to help Kentucky continue on a successful path,” said Tamura. “There are strong relationships in place between Kentucky and Japanese businesses, and we hope to build even more partnerships with companies across Asia.”  


    Tamura replaces Jiro Hashimoto, who announced his retirement in June, ending 28 years as Kentucky’s representative in Japan. During his tenure, more than 150 Japanese companies located in Kentucky, resulting in the current employment of more than 38,000 Kentuckians.


    “Hiraku Tamura’s resume speaks for itself,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “We evaluated several candidates and worked very hard to find the right fit for Kentucky – someone who was familiar with international business and already had an established knowledge of business operations in Asia. We believe we found that exact person, and we’re fortunate to be able to have someone of his caliber on the ground in Asia, making the types of personal connections we need to succeed in attracting these companies to do business in Kentucky.”


    Tamura recently served three years as president of Metal One Office Corp., a subsidiary of Metal One Corp., in Tokyo, where he had been a general manager for nearly four years before becoming president.


    He helped lead the company into a top global trader of steel products. Tamura spent more than 30 years working in high-level positions for Mitsubishi Corp. and Metal One Corp., including marketing, sales, and new business creation for domestic and overseas markets. His international experience includes work in Singapore, Peru and the United States.


    Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

  • 19 Sep 2013 11:15 AM | Anonymous

    Eiji Toyoda, Toyota's longest serving president, died at the age of 100 on September 17 in Toyota City, Japan. Mr. Toyoda was instrumental in bringing Toyota to America and the world. Only the second Japanese to be named in the US Automotive Hall of Fame, Mr. Toyoda's legacy and vision lives on right here in Kentucky as we continue to produce Toyota car's at the Georgetown plant. For a full read-up on Eiji Toyoda, please click here.

  • 17 Sep 2013 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    Please see the message below from S&Y Associates concerning the publishing of these poems in English.


    "Don’t Lose Heart–Kujikenaide”, is a collection of warm-hearted poems written with Toyo’s prospective as a woman, mother and wife emphasizing her motto of “Morning will always come”.

    Toyo Shibata continuously sent courageous messages to people who experienced sufferings from their daily lives and especially to the 2011 Tsunami victims.  Toyo Shibata became a symbol of encouragement and faith to this tragic event.

     “Don’t Lose Heart-Kujikenaide” has been published in South Korea and Taiwan to rave reviews and demand.  The book has also been published in Germany, Italy, and Spain.   Toyo’s message: “Confront tomorrow with courage!” appears to be reaching readers throughout the world.

    “Don’t Lose Heart - Kujikenaide”, will now be available to the North American market at the end of this August. The book will have the original Japanese version and English translation side by side in the same book.

    Please visit our website if you are interested in our book.

    Thank you very much for your time.


     S&Y Associates will donate a portion of profits to the victims of the Great East Japan Disaster of 2011.


  • 16 Aug 2013 10:17 AM | Anonymous
    New Ambassador to the United States from Japan, His Excellency Kenichiro Sasae, threw the first pitch at a MLB game in Texas last night. JASK recently visited with the Ambassador in D.C. to discuss Kentucky/Japan relations and extend a welcome to Kentucky. 

    See the first pitch here!

  • 10 Jun 2013 3:48 PM | Anonymous

    Thanks to JASK members and companies,we were able to raise and donate over $75,000 to the Tsunami Relief in Japan. Part of this money was quickly put to use by "Hands-On-Tokyo" who used it to support the building of the Ogatsu Community Center, located in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. The house will act as a community and cultural center for the people of the devastated town. 

    Click below for a report by the center with pictures and more information.

  • 10 Jun 2013 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    Kentucky's Japan Office Representative Completes

    Nearly Three Decades of Service to Kentucky

    Kentucky’s economic development agent in Japan to end historic career as a top recruiter for Japanese business, investment


    Frankfort, KY. (June 3, 2013) - After 28 years on the job as Kentucky's economic development representative in Japan, Jiro Hashimoto is retiring from his vital role as Kentucky's only economic development representative in Japan. 

    The Tokyo native is leaving at the end of June, having worked with the administrations of seven Kentucky governors. During his tenure, more than 150 Japanese companies have located in Kentucky, which today employ more than 38,000 Kentuckians.

    "Jiro Hashimoto has been a tireless advocate for all Kentuckians, and we owe hime a debt of gratitude for his decades of service to the Commonwealth," said Gov. Steve Beshear. "His efforts have been crucial in securing thousands of jobs for Kentuckians and billions of dollars in investment from Japanese companies. His representation helped build the tremendous relationship that exists between Japan and Kentucky, and for that, we will always be grateful."

    In 1983, Hashimoto left a 19-year career with a large Japanese trading company to begin recruiting businesses to Kentucky. Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. first established an economic development office in Japan, with Hashimoto as the first employee.

    Kentucky maintains two international economic development offices – one in Tokyo and the other in Hamburg, Germany. There are 155 Japanese-owned facilities in the Commonwealth, making Japan a clear frontrunner in boosting Kentucky’s foreign direct investment success. Germany ranks second with approximately 60 German-owned facilities across the state.

    “Kentucky has a lot going for it, with our strategic location, low cost of business and tremendous workforce. But for Japan, a country that puts such a high value on relationships, it’s imperative to have a personal connection. Jiro has provided that critical relationship in an exemplary way throughout his career, spanning three decades,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “We will miss him greatly and are thankful he will be involved in the transition.”

    The Cabinet for Economic Development will begin the process of selecting a new office representative to oversee Kentucky’s ongoing economic development efforts in Asia. 

    “We have accomplished a great deal over these many years, and I am proud of the benefits that this partnership has brought to Kentucky and to Japan,” said Jiro Hashimoto.


    Some of the highlights in Kentucky’s relationship with Japan include:


    ·      1974 – Mazak starts its U.S. machine tool operation in Florence.

    ·      1983 (April 19) – Kentucky’s economic office in Japan opens.

    ·      1984 (December) – Topy Industries announces the establishment of its wheel plant in Frankfort.

    ·      1985 (January) – Hitachi announces the establishment of Hitachi Automotive Products in Harrodsburg.

    ·      1985 (December) – Toyota Motor announces the establishment of its first independent U.S. manufacturing plant in Georgetown.

    ·      1987 – Japan America Society of Kentucky formed.

    ·      1996 – Sumikin Bussan/Kentucky Steel Center in Berea becomes the 100th Japanese-owned company to locate in Kentucky.

    ·      2005 – Kentucky participates in the World Expo in Aichi, Japan and hosts “Kentucky Week” in May at the U.S. Pavilion.

    ·      2010 (November) – Jiro Hashimoto inducted into Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) Hall of Fame.

    ·      2013 (April 19) – Kentucky’s Japan office marks its 30th anniversary.

    # # #

    The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. Business investment in Kentucky in 2012 totaled nearly $2.7 billion with the creation of more than 14,000 new jobs. Information on available development sites, workforce training, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other resources is available atwww.ThinkKentucky.com.

  • 10 Jun 2013 3:16 PM | Anonymous
    JASK would like to welcome our two new Summer Interns, Mina Honda and Jack Goblirsch. Mina is from Fukuoka, Japan, and will be with JASK full time until the end of August. She is currently a Junior at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. Jack Goblirsch is currently a senior at Centre College in Danville, KY and will be interning part-time with JASK for the summer. See below for their respective introductions and feel free to contact them to welcome them to JASK at info@jask.org. 

    Mina Honda (本田美奈)

    Hello JASK Members. My name is Mina Honda and I am very excited to have such a great opportunity to work for JASK as an intern during this summer.

    I am originally from Fukuoka prefecture, which is located in southern part of Japan. I go to Keio University in Tokyo and study international relations and journalism.   

    I participate in the KIZUNA Project, which is funded by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and this is the reason why I could get the opportunity to work for JASK. There are 55 students who participate in this program and all of us are sent to different states to get work experience in the U.S. and bring back our experiences to Japan so that we can contribute to the recovery from the great earthquake in the Tohoku area. (For more information about Kizuna Project; http://goo.gl/ktjLn)

    I hope I can contribute to JASK as much as possible, and I am looking forward to working with JASK Members as well.


    Mina Honda








    Jack Goblirsch

    My name is Jack Goblirsch. I am originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky and I'm going to be a senior at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this upcoming fall. I am working towards a duel degree in Government and International Relations and am also a member of the men's soccer team at Centre. 

    I believe working with the Japan America Society of Kentucky this summer will provide me great experience within my field of study, especially regarding my local community. Through this experience, I hope to gain a better understanding of American and Japanese relations, cultures, societal interactions, and other elements of this relationship that affect Kentucky and Japanese communities. I look forward to meeting and working with the Japan/America Society members.


    Jack Goblirsch

  • 22 Apr 2013 9:19 AM | Anonymous
    JASK would like to offer their congratulations to all the members of the Georgetown Toyota Plant for being selected as the first North American plant to begin production of the Lexus! Another example of the ever forming strong ties between Kentucky and Japan!

    From ABC News:

    Toyota will start building the Lexus ES 350 at its Georgetown, Ky. plant in 2015, producing the luxury brand for the first time in the United States.

    The Japanese car company said Friday that the Georgetown plant will build about 50,000 of the vehicles each year, creating 750 new jobs.

    The Georgetown plant currently assembles the Camry, Avalon and Venza models as well as their hybrid counterparts. The plant employs about 6,600 people.

    Toyota said it will invest $360 million to build the Lexus assembly line, boosting Georgetown's annual vehicle production to 550,000 a year.

    The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved $146.5 million in state tax incentives on Wednesday to help with the cost of the expansion.

    Link - http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/toyota-build-lexus-kentucky-add-750-jobs-18996902#.UXU4hivF1ss

  • 10 Apr 2013 10:28 AM | Anonymous
    Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Japan's gift of the Cherry Blossom Trees to the United States in 1912, Toyota Motor Mfg. Kentucky recently planted a Cherry Blossom Tree (descended directly from the original trees in Washington D.C.) outside of their facilities. 

  • 08 Apr 2013 3:04 PM | Anonymous

    JASK Members,

    Starting in February, JASK welcomed to the family Josh Moore as it's new Project Manager. Below is a brief letter by Josh, please take time to read it and welcome him to JASK.

    Hello JASK Members. My name is Josh Moore and I am excited to be welcomed to the JASK family as the new Project Manager.

    I am originally from Louisville, KY and attended college at Centre College in Danville, KY. After graduating, I went to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme as an Assistant English Teacher for 2 years. I was placed on the small Island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture where I had an amazing experience and was able to connect with the people and culture there. Coming back to Kentucky and joining JASK, I hope to foster better cultural and business relations between Japan and America.

    Personally, I like to try new things and interact with new people. I enjoy hiking, biking, reading, Kendo, and studying Japanese.

    I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year. 

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me at programs@jask.org or 502-209-9630 with any questions, comments, or suggestions.


    Josh Moore









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