TOPEKA (AP) — Japanese officials met with Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in the hopes of strengthening business relations and encouraging Kansas to rejoin an alliance between Japan and regional states. The Republican governor met last month with a delegation from the Chicago-based Japanese consulate, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Consul general Naoki Ito said some federal trade decisions could jeopardize exports of Kansas beef and pork to Japan. He said Kansas is missing an opportunity to grow and could lose consumption from Japan.
“Japan and Kansas could do more,” Ito said. “We are allies.”
He said Kansas could raise the profile of its image, showcase its business and attract investors by rejoining the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association. The association works to introduce U.S. companies to Japan’s senior investors.
“I’ve always thought it was a good chance for (Kansas) to get into those circles,” said Marie Gaudette, the association’s executive director.
Former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback left the association in 2012 as a cost-saving measure, citing a $2,000 annual membership.
“The state of Kansas felt they already had strong relationships with Japan, and they wanted the opportunity to pursue other markets,” Gaudette said.
Ito said Colyer’s position in office marks an opportunity to renew relations. Investors remain interested in Kansas because the state offers a diversity of sectors, including renewable wind energy, he said.
Colyer’s office declined to comment on the meeting. The office issued a news release Friday listing accomplishments through Colyer’s first 100 days in office. The list included conversations with consul generals of China, Mexico, Pakistan and Bangladesh but did not mention the visit from the Japanese delegation.