FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 3, 2013) – After 28 years on the job as Kentucky’s economic development representative in Japan, Jiro Hashimoto is retiring.
The Tokyo native is leaving at the end of June, having worked with the administrations of seven Kentucky governors. During his tenure, more than 150 Japanese companies have located in Kentucky, which today employ more than 38,000 Kentuckians.
“Jiro Hashimoto has been a tireless advocate for all Kentuckians, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his decades of service to the commonwealth,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “His efforts have been crucial in securing thousands of jobs for Kentuckians and billions of dollars in investment from Japanese companies. His representation helped build the tremendous relationship that exists between Japan and Kentucky, and for that, we will always be grateful.”
In 1983, Hashimoto left a 19-year career with a large Japanese trading company to begin recruiting businesses to Kentucky. Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. first established an economic development office in Japan, with Hashimoto as the first employee.
Kentucky maintains two international economic development offices – one in Tokyo and the other in Hamburg, Germany. There are 155 Japanese-owned facilities in the Commonwealth, making Japan a clear frontrunner in boosting Kentucky’s foreign direct investment success. Germany ranks second with approximately 60 German-owned facilities across the state.
“Kentucky has a lot going for it, with our strategic location, low cost of business and tremendous workforce. But for Japan, a country that puts such a high value on relationships, it’s imperative to have a personal connection. Jiro has provided that critical relationship in an exemplary way throughout his career, spanning three decades,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “We will miss him greatly and are thankful he will be involved in the transition.”
The Cabinet for Economic Development will begin the process of selecting a new office representative to oversee Kentucky’s ongoing economic development efforts in Asia.
“We have accomplished a great deal over these many years, and I am proud of the benefits that this partnership has brought to Kentucky and to Japan,” said Jiro Hashimoto.
Some of the highlights in Kentucky’s relationship with Japan include:
• 1974 – Mazak starts its U.S. machine tool operation in Florence.
• 1983 (April 19) – Kentucky’s economic office in Japan opens.
• 1984 (December) – Topy Industries announces the establishment of its wheel plant in Frankfort.
• 1985 (January) – Hitachi announces the establishment of Hitachi Automotive Products in Harrodsburg.
• 1985 (December) – Toyota Motor announces the establishment of its first independent U.S. manufacturing plant in Georgetown.
• 1987 – Japan America Society of Kentucky formed.
• 1996 – Sumikin Bussan/Kentucky Steel Center in Berea becomes the 100th Japanese-owned company to locate in Kentucky.
• 2005 – Kentucky participates in the World Expo in Aichi, Japan and hosts “Kentucky Week” in May at the U.S. Pavilion.
• 2010 (November) – Jiro Hashimoto inducted into Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) Hall of Fame.
· 2013 (April 19) – Kentucky’s Japan office marks its 30th anniversary.