For the first time in nearly two decades Iowa will host the Midwest U.S./Japan Association conference. Over 300 people have registered to attend next week’s the event, including five other Midwest governors and over 100 government and business leaders from Japan.
“The conference has a long history and well-known international reputation,” Governor Terry Branstad says.
Every other year the annual conference is held in Japan. Branstad went last year, when it was in Tokyo. The last time Iowa hosted — in 1995 — the event was held in Cedar Rapids. Nearly a billion dollars of Iowa commodities and products were sold to Japan last year.
“Japan continues to be one of Iowa’s top export markets and several Japanese companies have also invested and created jobs here in Iowa,” Branstad says.
For example, Valent Biosciences just opened a new facility in Osage. Japan’s ambassador to the United States will speak at next week’s event, which will be held in Des Moines. Executives from Toshiba and Toyota will attend as well. Branstad says relationship building is important in Pacific Rim countries like Japan.
“This is really an opportunity to kind of make sure we maintain these good relationships and encourage additional investment and growth,” Branstad says.
The 46th annual Midwest U.S./Japan Association meeting will begin Sunday the 7th of September and conclude next Tuesday. Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — two potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates — will be there and Pence is scheduled to headline a private fundraiser for Branstad’s reelection campaign during the event.