Press Release: Gov. Evers, First Lady Evers to Attend White House State Dinner, Highlight Wisconsin’s Strong Economic Partnerships with Japan

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers, First Lady Evers to Attend White House State Dinner, Highlight Wisconsin’s Strong Economic Partnerships with Japan 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with First Lady Kathy Evers, will today attend the distinguished White House State Dinner in Washington, D.C., in honor of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Mrs. Kishida Yuko of Japan. This is the first official visit by a Japanese leader since 2015, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited. This momentous occasion highlights the deep-rooted economic ties and alliance between the United States and Japan. Gov. Evers’ participation in the State Dinner is a testament to Wisconsins key role in fostering international economic relationships and the mutual benefits derived from such partnerships.

“This State Dinner is an important opportunity to represent Wisconsin on the global stage and celebrate the enduring partnership and friendship Wisconsin has long maintained and cherished with Japan,” said Gov. Evers. “Our shared achievements highlight the power of collaboration between our state and nations, and I am eager to continue building upon this foundation to bring even greater prosperity to Wisconsin and the many Japanese businesses that call our state home.”

Gov. Evers in 2019 led his first international trade mission as governor to Japan, where he met with corporate and government leaders to highlight Japanese investments in Wisconsin businesses and promote the state’s exports. During his visit, the governor participated in the Midwest U.S.–Japan Association (MWJA) Conference in Tokyo. The MWJA is comprised of ten member states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Wisconsin representatives travel to Japan to attend the MWJA Conference every other year.

During his trade mission, the governor also met with executives from several major Japanese corporations with business operations in Wisconsin and traveled to Chiba City, located in Chiba Prefecture, which is Wisconsin’s sister state in Japan. While in Chiba City, the governor met with his counterpart at the time, Gov. Kensaku Morita, and the Chiba Board of Education to learn more about Japan’s educational system. The governor also toured the original Kikkoman soy sauce facility.

Japan’s economy is now the fourth largest in the world, and the nation is a significant partner of the United States in a number of foreign policy areas. The partnership between Wisconsin and Japanese businesses has been instrumental in driving Wisconsin’s economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating valuable employment opportunities for families and communities across the state. According to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Japan is Wisconsin’s 11th largest trade partner, ranking 10th among the state’s export destinations and 11th among the state’s import sources.

In Wisconsin, investments from Japanese companies have been an advantage for the state and local economies, leading to the establishment of manufacturing facilities, research and development centers, and corporate offices. There are 81 Japanese companies with over 224 operations throughout Wisconsin, and this robust collaboration has created approximately 8,900 jobs, invigorating the state’s economy and elevating Wisconsin’s position in the global market. Since 2013, Japan has invested over $2.6 billion in Wisconsin, making it the second largest investor in the state after Canada.

Newest among Japanese company expansions in Wisconsin is Yaskawa America Inc.’s recent decision to grow its operations in Wisconsin. Yaskawa is investing approximately $200 million in new manufacturing facilities for robotics and semiconductor motion solutions in the states of Wisconsin and Ohio, which will employ about 1,750 workers and increase the Yaskawa footprint in the United States by about 25 percent. This investment showcases Wisconsin’s appeal as a prime location for international business.

Other notable investments include Asahi Breweries’ acquisition of Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, which brings together traditional brewing techniques and local innovation, and Komatsu’s commitment of $285 million for new corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Milwaukee’s Harbor District. Gov. Evers participated in the grand opening of this facility in June 2022 and celebrated that this project has the potential to bring more than 1,000 jobs to a long-dormant area of the city. Furthermore, Fujifilm’s $152 million expansion in Madison and Iris Ohyama Inc.’s growth in Pleasant Prairie exemplifies the depth of the strong partnership between Wisconsin and the nation of Japan.

Additionally, June 9, 2023, marked the 50th anniversary of the grand opening of Kikkoman Foods Inc. in Walworth. Since 1973, Kikkoman’s Wisconsin plant has grown to become the highest-producing brewed soy sauce production facility in the world. Kikkoman was one of the first Japanese companies to establish a manufacturing plant in the United States, and today, the company has two U.S.-based production plants, including the Walworth plant and a second facility in Folsom, California. Earlier this year, Kikkoman announced its plans to build a second Wisconsin plant, representing a $560 million investment over 10 years. Gov. Evers attended Kikkoman’s 50th anniversary celebration in Wisconsin last year and declared June 9, 2023, “Kikkoman Day” in Wisconsin in honor of the occasion. A copy of Gov. Evers’ Kikkoman Day proclamation is available here

Wisconsin’s continuing relationship with Japan exemplifies the positive impact of international cooperation on local economies. The Evers Administration remains dedicated to nurturing these partnerships, promoting economic development, and securing a prosperous future for Wisconsin.
An online version of this release is available here.