Thoughts from Japan: Day four
I sit writing this column headed to Nagoya on one of the fastest trains in the world, known as the Shinkasen bullet train. The Shinkasen connects Tokyo to various major cities across the main island of Japan, traveling at speeds of up to 200 mph. On the ride, we’ve witnessed everything from sprawling manufacturing centers to fields of green and gold ready for harvest, to the iconic mount Fuji towering far above the cloud line. The ride aboard the Shinkasen provides us with our only opportunity to witness the countryside of Japan mid-way through our packed schedules.
So far the experience has been exceptional. I feel as though if the journey was to be completed now, it already would be heralded as a huge success. The Midwest Japan Conference (MWJA) was a wonderful learning experience. The presentations made by Governors from several Midwest states along with those in Japan provided a unique insight into the similarities and differences between our Midwest brothers and Japanese counterparts.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine provided one of the best speeches of the day. Sharing his vision for Ohio and our open arms to attracting new Japanese business into the state was very well received by all. I spoke with delegates from other states and many felt as though the Ohio presentation was the crème de le crème.
Following the speeches from the governors, we were able to attend many additional seminars to learn about businesses looking to expand their market share. I came away from the conference with a fistful of business cards of Japanese and American men and women. The cards represent businesses from nearly every industry and all of them have one thing in common: they are looking for their next opportunity to grow in the United States.
Many years ago, a great number of people thought Mayor Bernard Hohman was wasting time when he visited Japan with SIEDC President Rich Focht. Luckily for all of us, they embarked on Tiffin’s first and only overseas trade mission up until this point. From their trip, both Taiho and American Fine Sinter followed to the Tiffin community, and now employ more than 500 Tiffinites. Those two plants did not come overnight, but arrived years after Hohman and Focht’s trip due to the constant contact and long-term relationships.
It is my hope that this trade mission bears similar fruit as to that successful trip made by Hohman and Focht more than 15 years ago. The Japanese culture is all about establishing long-term relationships when it comes to business deals. The four of us have planted a great many seeds in Japan, and now, we must water, fertilize and cultivate those seeds so that one day some sprout into new manufacturing and data centers in Tiffin, Ohio.
On a more somber note, I’ve been thinking a lot today about my friend and colleague, Mark Hayes. To say that Mark will be missed by myself and on city council is an understatement. My deepest sympathies to his family at this time.