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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Announces Trade Mission to Japan

Nebraska’s relationship with Japan is key to growing exports, overseas investment

Lincoln – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he and Lt. Governor Mike Foley will lead trade delegations to Japan in September in a continuing effort to grow Nebraska’s economy through foreign trade and investment.

Gov. Ricketts will lead a delegation of Nebraska business leaders to the 47th Annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference (MWJA), in Tokyo, September 12th-16th.

Lt. Gov. Foley will arrive in Japan the week prior, September 9th-11th, with a separate delegation that will focus on promoting Nebraska beef and pork to its largest export partner. Gov. Ricketts will address the conference on September 14th.

“Because Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s top export customers and business investors, this is the perfect opportunity to continue building on our current relationships and reaffirm our commitment as a key player in Japan and the world marketplace,” said Gov. Ricketts.

Company officials will have the opportunity to meet with approximately 300 top industry and government officials and listen to internationally-known speakers from the U.S. and Japan. Top level executives from leading firms across Japan, such as Ajinomoto Co. Inc., Itochu Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Sony, Sumitomo Chemical, Toshiba Corp., and Toyota participate in the conference each year. 

Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, CEcD, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), will join the Governor’s delegation of Nebraska business representatives and government officials at the conference. In addition to organizing the September 12th-16th portion of the trade mission, DED will work with its Nebraska delegation members to identify appropriate companies for them to meet, and make introductions on their behalf thereby providing networking opportunities throughout the conference.

“This annual conference provides an excellent framework for the Governor and our delegates to meet with key corporate global company leaders, continue to sell the benefits of doing business with Nebraska, and further sustain and forge a traditions-rich relationship,” said Hicks-Sorensen. “We are looking forward to many exciting opportunities that exist for expanding and growing our global business reach.”

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is organizing the September 9th-11th portion of the trade mission. Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, along with representatives of several commodity groups and farm organizations, will join Lt. Gov. Foley for the agricultural trade team activities. The group will be participating in several U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) promotional functions, and the delegation will visit Tokyo to meet with retailers, distributors, importers, and restauranteurs.

“Lt. Gov. Foley and the agriculture delegation will promote Nebraska as a primary source of high-quality, world-class beef and pork to the Japanese marketplace,” Gov. Ricketts said. “They also will meet with food bloggers and media members to tell the Nebraska story. These folks are highly influential in consumer purchasing decisions in Japan, so it is important to have a direct dialogue.”

Over 20 percent of Nebraska’s beef exports and over 50 percent of the state’s pork exports are destined for Japan. In 2014, Nebraska’s beef exports to Japan reached $276 million and pork exports were $235 million. Japan is Nebraska’s largest foreign direct investor, having invested more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Japan is the state's third largest export market, as Nebraska posted merchandise exports of more than $735 million to Japan in 2014, representing 9.3 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports.

“We don’t want to take this market for granted,” Director Ibach said. “There is room to grow our market share, but we must keep in mind that our competitors are trying to do the same thing. These promotional activities keep Nebraska top-of-mind for existing customers and open doors with new ones.”

This is the second overseas trade mission of the Governor’s administration. Governor Ricketts has said that trade missions are an important part of his strategy to Grow Nebraska, and has said he hopes to conduct two trade missions a year.

For information on the September 12th-16th itinerary and activities, contact Kent Campbell at 800-426-6505, 402-309-3359, or

About the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association

MWJA membership consists of the ten member states of Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. The association was implemented to strengthen the important business and economic ties that link the Midwest region and Japan. Governors and business leaders from across the Midwest and Japan attend the association’s annual conference.