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Consul general speaks to chamber members
Consul General Takuji Hanatani speaks to chamber members on Friday. - photo by Jennifer Sami
A Japanese trade official addressed the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce on Friday, just weeks after a local official visited his country.

Consul General Takuji Hanatani from the Consulate General of Japan spoke at the chamber’s quarterly Economic Development Committee meeting.

The consul general discussed the recent Southeast United States-Japan Trade Conference, which was attended by Brian Dill, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.

Dill has said the trip produced about four solid leads on industries interested in possibly pursuing the county for an American branch.

Despite what he called one of the most challenging economic times since World War II, Hanatani said, “We do see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

He pointed to a strong growth in China, which can “be viewed in a positive light, because their strength means increased demand.”

He also pointed to a recent election in Japan, noting Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama “pledged to bring about economic growth.”

Hanatani said the prime minister can achieve this, in part, by creating “new industries and employment opportunities in the fields of medicine, nursing, culture, environment, tourism and sport.”

Among the questions Hanatani fielded was about Japan’s unemployment rate.

In the U.S. a 10 percent rate has become the norm and Hanatani said Japan’s unemployment levels only look low in comparison. The country’s 5.7 percent unemployment rate, he said, is actually the highest since World War II.

When asked why Georgia has become a hot spot for Japanese business, Hanatani mentioned the climate, connectivity, labor pool and low infrastructure costs.

“The Japan-United States partnership is perhaps more important than ever in these uncertain economic times,” he said. “I hope and trust that the status of Japan and Forsyth’s relationship will continue to be nurtured and flourish in the future.”