Gov. Matt Bevin and Gov. Hideaki Ohmura, of the Aichi Prefecture Government in Japan, together signed a memorandum of understanding Monday evening emphasizing each region’s commitment to continue their partnership.
Aichi Prefecture is home to numerous manufacturing corporations, including 59 companies that operate a total of 94 facilities in Kentucky. About 40 executives from those companies, as well as representatives from the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, the Japan External Trade Organization and the Japan/America Society of Kentucky attended the signing ceremony and a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
“The base of our economy is very similar to the base of Aichi’s, predominantly engineering and manufacturing,” Gov. Bevin said, having welcomed the Gov. Ohmura and the numerous business, government and cultural leaders. “We are already partners in many ways and, as we sign this memorandum of understanding, we formalize this partnership. Already today, we’ve begun discussions about ways to broaden our relationship.”
The agreement establishes intentions to increase prosperity in both regions and to further develop the relationship between the United States and Japan with three basic principles:
(I) The parties shall strive to establish a close friendship based on respect and trust for each other.
(II) The parties shall cooperate in all fields as are recognized by both parties to be mutually beneficial, such as economy, culture and human resource development.
(III) In the interest of development of both regions, the parties shall work to promote private-sector exchange in a wide range of areas, including economic exchange.
“I am honored to be here today and I am sure that everyone will agree the relationship between Aichi and Kentucky is an extremely important one,” Gov. Ohmura. “I think it is fair to say – with nearly 100 companies doing business here from Aichi – that Kentucky is the most popular destination for Aichi companies. I look forward to growing the relationship with Gov. Bevin and Kentucky through education, economic development and cultural exchange.”
Aichi, located in the Chubu region of Japan, is the fourth most populated prefecture in Japan with more than 7.5 million people. Companies headquartered in the region include Toyota Motor Corp., Sumitomo Riko, Denso Corp. and Aisin Seiki, among others. The Aichi Prefecture region has led Japan in exports every year since 1977.
The commonwealth’s first Japanese-owned facility, machine tool, engineering and industrial tech provider Mazak Corp., was established in Florence in 1974. Through more than a dozen expansions, it has grown to employ about 600 people full-time. Its corporate parent, Yamazaki Mazak Corp, is based in Aichi.
Toyota Motor Corp., also based in Aichi, announced its Georgetown plant in 1986 and opened it two years later. Across numerous expansions Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc. has grown into Toyota’s largest plant globally, employing about 8,000 people. The plant has helped attract scores of automotive parts manufacturers and related tech and factory-systems suppliers to the Bluegrass State.
In total, Kentucky is home to 182 Japanese-owned facilities, which employ more than 40,000 people. Since the beginning of 2016, those companies have announced 43 new location or expansion projects throughout the state resulting in more than $2.1 billion and more than 3,300 new full-time jobs.