I have been in Asia this week, and as I wrap up our visit to Japan, I’d like to talk about the significance of our relationship with the country known as the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan has been an economic-development partner with Arkansas for decades. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission opened an office in Japan in 1985, from which the commission promotes direct foreign investment in Japan, South Korea, India, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Neal Jansen, who graduated from the Math and Science School in Hot Springs and the University of Arkansas, works out of Arkansas’s trade office in Osaka.
Twenty-two Japanese companies have 45 operations in Arkansas, and this makes Japan a success story for investment in our state. They employ nearly 6,000 people. Japan ranks No. 2 in the state for the number of parent companies and No. 1 with the number of foreign-owned operations. The Japanese companies come from points all over Japan and have opened in towns all over Arkansas. Daikin Industries from Osaka is in Fayetteville. DENSO Manufacturing from Kariya is in Osceola. Marubeni Corporation from Tokyo is in Newport. Hino Motors and Toyota Motor Corporation from Tokyo are in Marion. Nippon Sheet Glass is from Tokyo and is in Little Rock. Nidec Motor Corporation from Kyoto is in Mena. Nucor-Yamato Steel Company in Himeji City is in Blytheville.
In 2018, Arkansas imported $236 million worth of goods from Japan. Our top imports from Japan included machinery; electrical machinery; vehicles, parts and accessories; and iron and steel.
In 2018, Japan was our tenth largest customer. Our $167 million worth of exports included paper and paperboard; organic chemicals; electrical machinery; poultry; soybeans; cotton; and a variety of other agricultural products.
The products that Japanese companies manufacture in Arkansas include air filters for diesel locomotives; railroad tie plates; heating and air conditioning assemblies and a variety of plastic parts for automobiles; axles and suspension components for automobiles; electric motors for cars and appliances; steel tire cord for radial tires; and cold steel.
While in Tokyo, Mike Preston, my Secretary of Commerce, and I participated in a forum with a Japan Business Federation. I had the opportunity to speak about doing business in Arkansas. Before my remarks, I had a private conversation with the chairman, Mr. Yoshikawa. Mr. Yoshikawa quickly informed me that he had been to Arkansas. He mentioned Hot Springs, and then he said he had been to the King Biscuit Blue Festival in Helena. He plays the banjo and loves the blues.
It is indeed a small world in which there are so many connections to our great state.
Asa Hutchinson is the 46th Governor of Arkansas.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in op-eds are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Arkansas Money & Politics or About You Media Group.