Gov. Pillen Concludes Successful Trade Mission to South Korea and Japan


Laura Strimple, (402) 580-9495

Jacy Schafer, (531) 510-8529  

Gov. Pillen Concludes Successful Trade Mission to South Korea and Japan


LINCOLN, NE – Governor Jim Pillen and delegation members concluded their successful trade mission to East Asia. During the 10-day journey to South Korea and Japan, the Nebraska delegation engaged in high-level meetings with government officials, key customers of Nebraska agriculture products, leaders of manufacturing companies and investors into Nebraska’s clean energy sector.


“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers feed the world. Japan and South Korea are two of our largest, most dependable customers,” said Gov. Pillen. “During our trip, we were able to reinforce the unmatched sustainability and quality of Nebraska’s ag products. We built relationships that will open doors to new opportunities for Nebraska agriculture. We also strengthened ties with key international investors into our state’s growing clean energy industry.”


The delegation, led by Gov. Pillen, included Sherry Vinton, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), state commodity organizations, ag businesses, and energy companies.


On Tuesday, group members met with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Tokyo. They thanked Mitsubishi for investing in Monolith Materials (based in Hallam, Nebraska) to support the development of technologies to produce clean hydrogen. Leaders from the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) provided an update on the work of the Mid-Continent Hydrogen Hub (MCH2). Nebraska established the MCH2 with Iowa and Missouri to encourage the production of renewable hydrogen and other clean biofuels in the Heartland.


“Just as Nebraska is a leader in ethanol production, we have an opportunity to develop and utilize clean hydrogen, hydrogen-enhanced fuels and ammonia to further diversify our ag sector and provide additional food security. Getting the chance to highlight this at the international level can help spur more growth and support in that sector,” noted NPPD Vice President of Customer Services and External Affairs Courtney Dentlinger. “Working collaboratively with our wholesale power partners and customers is a strength of public power, and we were able to showcase the successes of those collaborative efforts during this visit.”


Prior to their departure, Nebraska’s delegates attended the closing ceremonies of the 2023 Midwest U.S.-Japan Association (MWJA) conference. The MWJA gathering is held annually, rotating between Japan and the United States. The event includes governors from Japan as well as those from the Midwest. Gov. Pillen delivered a keynote address, noting mutual trade and educational ties with Japan. He also mentioned how Nebraska remains a leader in utilizing sustainable ag practices, to provide high-quality food products.


“They have more people than land mass, so they rely on our imports to help feed their families and provide feed for the livestock they raise,” added Gov. Pillen. “Nebraska ag has an incredible impact here. We are helping to provide food and goods they rely on day to day in a secure and sustainable way.”


“In Nebraska, we know that we are an ag state, but it is important to continue to promote our brand,” said Sherry Vinton, NDA director. “We need to reinforce to outside markets that our products are safer and higher quality.”


John Krohn, a board member with the Nebraska Corn Board said he quickly came to recognize how important it was for trade partners to meet with members of the Nebraska team.


“It is an essential part of their culture – to put a name to a face. Relationship-building has been a valuable aspect of this trip,” said Krohn. “Our trade partners in Japan view our products as having superior quality, and so hopefully, this will deepen their desire to seek out even more products in the future.”


During the trip, group members met with top leaders from Kawasaki, which next year, will be celebrating 50 years of manufacturing in Lincoln. The company employs around 2,400 people in and around the Capitol City.


“The business community of Lincoln is so excited to celebrate half a century of partnership and shared success with Kawasaki in Lincoln,” said Jason Ball, president and CEO of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber and the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development join the Governor in thanking Kawasaki for their continued investments in Lincoln, and we look forward to the next 50 years of collaboration.”


The trade mission to East Asia is Governor Pillen’s second overseas trip to promote Nebraska. He led a team to Vietnam in July to market Nebraska’s food products to potential customers in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.


Gov. Pillen and delegation members meet with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Gov. Pillen and delegation members meet with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries


Meeting participants at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Photo of meeting participants at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries


Gov. Pillen addresses participants at the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association Conference

Gov. Pillen addresses participants at the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association Conference