A high-ranking Japanese cabinet member says while he believes economic relations between the U.S. and Japan have improved since President Trump took office, ongoing tariff policies could put a halt to that progress. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko met with Governor Eric Holcomb and executives from Japanese businesses this week during a visit to Indiana. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Seko said while the relationship is currently in a "favorable cycle," thanks in part to tax reform, additional tariffs could reverse decisions to invest.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Seko is the highest-ranking Japanese official to visit Indiana in recent years. He is also visiting Ohio and Michigan during his Midwest trip.
Japan is Indiana’s largest foreign investor, to the tune of 290 businesses supporting more than 65,000 Hoosier jobs. The vast majority of that investment is in the auto industry, with Toyota, Subaru and Honda all having significant Indiana operations. Seko believes the biggest reasons for Japan’s heavy Hoosier investment are a quality workforce and state and local business attraction efforts.
Multiple Indiana economists and business leaders have spoken out against President Trump’s tariff policies, including Ball State University’s Michael Hicks, who has estimated they could result in the loss of more than 30,000 Hoosier jobs over the next seven years. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar has also weighed in, saying the fallout could have "chilling economic impacts" in Indiana.