Japan has the second-most foreign investment in Forsyth County, trailing only Germany, and this week some business and community leaders had a chance to hear about those partnerships.
On Wednesday, Consul-General of Japan Takashi Shinozuka spoke at a meeting of the Rotary Club of South Forsyth at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College, telling members about the culture and history of Japan and its business partnerships in Georgia.
“We have in the four states [in my district] more than 1,300 Japanese-affiliated companies,” Shinozuka said. “We are creating more than 100,000 jobs. In the whole nation, we have 840,000 people working in Japanese-affiliated companies.”
Shinozuka was first named consul general in January 2016 and oversees economic and cultural relations between Japan and Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. Previously, Shinozuka served as vice grand master of ceremonies in the Imperial Household Agency and in the Cabinet Office, the National Institute for Research Advancement and the Economic Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said Georgia and Japan have had an economic partnership dating back to the term of then-Gov. Jimmy Carter.
Shinozuka said Japan has invested around $12 billion into companies in Georgia.
“Between Japan and Georgia, we have some 640 Japanese-affiliated companies in the state,” Shinozuka said. “We have more than 35,000 Georgians working with us.”
The company that has been in the state the longest in YKK, a Japanese group of manufacturing companies known for producing zippers and other products. The company has been in Georgia since 1973, and the U.S. headquarters is in Marietta.
Shinozuka said Georgia-based companies Aflac and Coca-Cola are particularly popular in Japan and praised events in the state celebrating Japanese culture, such as the Cherry Blossom Festival each March in Macon.
He said he was also named an honorary citizen of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal.
“I am proud to be one of you all,” he said. “Wherever I go, I will have Georgia on my mind.”
He said each year Japanese and southeastern business leaders hold a meeting and the next will be in Savannah in 2019.
Shinozuka was last in the county in August, when he addressed a chamber manufacturing group.
“We’re delighted to have the consul-general of Japan,” said Robert Long, vice president of economic development for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “I have got to know him very well over the last couple of years. In fact, myself and [Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd] Levent have actually been guests at his residence several times.”