The steady economy in the U.S. has once again made it an attractive production and development base for Japanese manufacturers. In the Midwest states where many manufacturing facilities already exist, new employers are moving in and creating jobs.
Toyota is producing Lexus vehicles in the U.S. for the first time. The company invested about 40 billion yen in a factory that produces 50,000 cars per year. When hiring, Toyota wanted to select workers who would learn the Toyota spirit of craftsmanship. In job interviews, they were asked, “Why do you want to make Lexus cars?”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin reflects, “In the 80s, we thought Japan would dominate the world. Now we enjoy strong ties.”
The manufacturing sector creates jobs and contributes greatly to the regional economy. Recently, many states have reduced their property tax rates and started to offer low interest loans to attract Japanese firms to their states. Backed by stable prices for crude oil, Japanese companies have increased their investment in manufacturing industries such as food and chemicals as well as automobiles, especially in 12 Midwest states such as Ohio.
According to the Chicago office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO,) there were 2,108 Japanese companies operating in the 12 states in 2010. In 2015, the number increased to 2,222. Employment figure also rose from 186,000 to 243,000. Office chief Ichiro Sone, says: “American workers trust Japanese companies because we don’t pull out right away when the economy becomes weak. We’ve come a long way since the era of trade friction.”