The new Consul-General of Japan in Chicago says Indiana’s strong incentive offerings and cooperation from economic leaders are keys to continued strong relations with the Asian nation. Naoki Ito, who represents Indiana and nine other Midwestern states, says there are currently about 280 Japanese companies operating in Indiana, supporting around 58,000 jobs. During a Studio(i) interview, Ito said, while the manufacturing and auto industries will lead that growth, he would like to see the relationship grow into other industries, including life sciences and aerospace.

Ito began in the position in February. The main purposes of the office are to serve Japanese nationals, represent the Japanese government and to provide travel services and information about Japan to non-Japanese residents. On the economic front, Ito says he communicates with businesses in his 10-state jurisdiction and helps provide connections for companies looking to do business in Japan.

On Thursday, Ito will visit Honda Manufacturing of Indiana LLC in Greensburg and take part in a gala in downtown Indianapolis also being attended by Governor Eric Holcomb and Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch.

One of the biggest Japanese companies in Indiana is Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette. The plant, which employs more than 5,000 workers, late last year celebrated the production of its five millionth vehicle. It also recently completed a $140 million expansion that involved about 1,200 new jobs.

Another one of Japan’s largest Indiana operations is Toyota Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Princeton. Early this year, the company’s parent announced a $600 million investment and plans for 400 new jobs by 2019. At the time, TMMI said the expansion and modernization would help meet growing demand for its mid-size Highlander SUV model.

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