Economic Development Team Attends Conference in Japan


Four local officials left for Tokyo, Japan, one week ago, with three purposes in mind. They attended the 53rd Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest US/Japan Association Conference, had numerous meetings with Japanese-owned parent companies from our region, and made a brief visit to Bellefontaine’s sister city of Suzuka.

The Logan County team consisted of Ben Vollrath of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, Bellefontaine City Councilman Kyle Springs, Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler, and Logan County Commissioner Joe Antram.

Other people from the Midwest States spanning from Ohio to Nebraska, including nine states in between are in attendance. Ohio has the strongest delegation, with 60 representatives attending.

This conference is located in Tokyo every other year, alternating with various host states from the Midwest. Representatives from Logan County have attended this conference since 2013. Columbus, Ohio will host this same conference in September of 2024.

The conference began by inviting attendees to be guests at the home of the US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. There were a total of eight governors in attendance; five from the USA and three from various Japanese prefectures. The keynote speakers and topics, over the three days, included strategies for innovation, green and digital transitioning, and partnerships for our global economy.

For many, this marks the end of the journey. However, the Logan County team arranged visits to eight key industries from our area. Those visits took the team to the global headquarters of Honda, AGC, and Belletech, Nikkon holding company (NKP parts), Nippon ( NX automotive logistics), and Honda Logistics Co. (Midwest Express).

The team also traveled, by train, to Nagoya, to meet with leaders from Daido Metals & ISS America. In most cases, the presidents or senior administrators take part in these meetings. The Logan County team sent a strong message of gratitude and willingness to continue with an atmosphere of cooperation toward the success of their businesses. “There seems to be a common thread, throughout the various meetings, of a vision for growth and continued prosperity” stated Mayor Stahler.

From a global perspective, it should be noted that the United States is the number one foreign investor in Japan and likewise, Japan is the United State’s largest foreign investor. Ohio is ranked second, only to California, with the number of associates employed by Japanese-owned companies. Ohio has over 800 Japanese-owned companies and, closer to home, Logan County’s Japanese-owned companies employ over 7,000 associates.

Lastly, the Logan County team traveled by train to Suzuka; Bellefontaine‘s sister city for over 32 years. The group met with Honda executives there and toured their automotive plant. This was followed by a formal reception with the Suzuka Mayor Suematsu and a dinner that included area community leaders. The group stayed one night in Suzuka and returned to Tokyo the next day.

  1. OTIS
    September 12, 2023 at 6:30 am

    Rinos with Rahm………SMH

    • Rhambo
      September 12, 2023 at 8:04 am

      Say what you will about him, he never let a crisis go to waste.

  2. Ballerina Boy
    Ballerina Boy
    September 12, 2023 at 8:15 am

    Rahm Emanuel, the man who was widely reported to have rammed a dagger into a conference room table to emphasize what would happen to people who disagreed with him. That Rahm Emanuel? Awesome! Emanuel’s hubris is a guarantee that no progress will take place to anyone’s advantage. He did such a great job as Mayor of Chicago. Rahm must like free Sushi.

    • sparklefarts
      September 12, 2023 at 10:13 am

      did he tell Stahler to become a computer coder?

  3. Anthony Hunter
    Anthony Hunter
    September 12, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    I am as critical as anyone on the practice of political operatives and donors being given ambassador positions. Those jobs should be given to the people who do the actual work of diplomacy in our foreign services. At the same time, fostering investment and jobs is what local officials should be doing. When we have major investments in our community from Japan, it is appropriate to strengthen relationships.

    • watch that slicer
      watch that slicer
      September 12, 2023 at 12:32 pm

      emanuel cut his m************ off when he worked at arby’s. I bet a lot of people would like to give him their m************.

      • pat sajak
        pat sajak
        September 12, 2023 at 12:36 pm

        what is this, wheel of fortune? m-ddl- fin-er
        wanna try to solve the puzzle?

  4. Cat fish
    Cat fish
    September 12, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    Couldn’t the $ for sending these people on a freakn vacation to Japan b used on better things? Lunch programs for hungry kids at parks. Sidewalks need fixed. Homeless shelters. I just don’t get it.

    • Ed
      September 13, 2023 at 1:17 pm

      All that you mention is a worthwhile use of funds. As is this trip, which is clearly far from a vacation.

      • 有給休暇 (ゆうきゅうきゅうか)
        有給休暇 (ゆうきゅうきゅうか)
        September 14, 2023 at 6:21 pm

        The activities all appear to be related to their official duties. However, it is important to know more about the specific nature of the meetings and the amount of time spent on each activity.

        If the officials spent a significant amount of time on personal activities, such as sightseeing or shopping, then it could be argued that they were using city funds for a vacation. However, if the majority of their time was spent on official business, then it is more likely that the trip was justified.

        Ultimately, it is up to the public to decide whether or not they believe the trip was appropriate. If the officials were able to demonstrate that the trip was necessary for their official duties and that they were mindful of the use of city funds, then the public may be more likely to support the trip.

        Here are some additional factors to consider:

        Were the officials transparent about the purpose of the trip and the cost?
        Did the officials follow all applicable city policies and procedures?
        Did the officials provide a clear and concise account of their activities and expenses?
        If the officials can demonstrate that they were transparent, followed all applicable policies and procedures, and provided a clear and concise account of their activities and expenses, then the public may be more likely to believe that the trip was appropriate.

  5. Cat fish
    Cat fish
    September 14, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    Ed. No fun involved then right? Hard to believe

    • Ed
      September 18, 2023 at 2:34 pm

      Sorry to see that you misread my comment. I said that the purpose of the trip was a worthwhile use of funds and far from a vacation. That certainly doesn’t mean that the trip was not also enjoyable. Since no one works round the clock when at home, I would not expect them to do so while on a business trip either.


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