WMU News

Japanese consul general speaks at Haworth College

April 1, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Business relations between the world's two largest economic powers will be the focus of discussion when Japanese Consul General Makato Ito visits Western Michigan University next month.

Consul General Ito, who serves at the Japanese consulate's Detroit office, will discuss
"U.S.-Japan Economic Relations" at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in room 2000 of Schneider Hall. An informal reception will follow his presentation, which is part of WMU's Japanese Business Speaker Series.

Consul General Ito began his diplomatic career when he joined Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs after graduation from Nagoya University. His service to his country has taken him from Tokyo to Thailand, Brazil and Canada. The diplomat's first tour of duty in the United States was as the deputy consul general at the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles. After returning to Tokyo for several years, he arrived in Michigan in late 2000 to take his current post.

The Consulate General of Japan in Detroit was permanently established in 1993 in recognition of the growing number of Japanese businesses and residents in Michigan and Ohio. Japan, which began investing in the Great Lakes region some 25 years ago, is Michigan's top foreign investor--twice that of its nearest competitor. According to the consulate, more than 7,200 Japanese nationals and more than 350 Japanese-affiliated facilities are located in Michigan. Two-thirds of those facilities are manufacturing related, and almost all are tied in a direct or indirect way to the automotive industry. Seventy of the facilities are large in scale, each employing more than 100 people. The consulate serves as a resource center for those interested in learning about Japan and offers a unique service: Its staff includes an automotive engineering specialist who performs on-site testing of U.S. vehicles, thus expediting export to Japan.

The Japanese Business Speaker Series is one of seven key elements of Focus Japan, a WMU project funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Chaired by Dr. F. William McCarty, professor of finance and commercial law in the Haworth College of Business, and Dr. Hideko Abe, assistant professor of Asian and Middle Eastern languages, Focus Japan aims to strengthen the University's study of Japan's language, culture and business environment.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400