Legislators see Japan trade trip as success

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MOSES LAKE — Local legislators are hailing a recent trade mission to Japan that should bring significant advantages to the Basin.

“Our legislative district is very attractive to companies in Japan,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “We offer inexpensive power, a strong skilled workforce and the willingness to be a strong international trade partner.”

Warnick was accompanied on the nine-day visit in early October, which included meetings with the heads of major Japanese companies and the Aichi Prefecture Gov. Hideaki Ohmura, by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and officials from the Port of Moses Lake, including Port Commissioner David “Kent” Jones.

“I gave (Gov. Ohmura) a pair of cowboy boots,” Warnick said.

Warnick said the delegation traveled to Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi Prefecture — including Nagoya, the prefecture’s capital.

“We visited Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and saw where the MRJ is built. We met with officials from Kawasaki and Panasonic and talked about batteries,” Warnick said. “We met with some of the bigger names in Japanese industry.”

Warnick said the group also got a tour of the giant Toyota facility in the city of Toyota where the company builds the Prius.

“I just had a fantastic time meeting folks, continuing relations with government and business people interested in trade,” she added.

Schoesler agreed.

“There is nothing like meeting face-to-face when it comes to doing business,” the state senate majority leader said. “Our Japanese hosts were very gracious and receptive to our delegation, and I believe they were truly impressed with the amount of time and energy we were willing to devote to the tour.”

The state legislature’s 13th district, which covers much of Central Washington, is home to a number of Japanese firms, the most visible of which is Mitsubishi Aircraft, currently flight testing its new regional jet at the Port of Moses Lake.

Part of the purpose of the trip, according to Warnick, was to solicit new business and investment opportunities in the region.

But the American visitors also toured Japanese factories and talked about cultural exchanges as well.

“The innovation and the factories were amazing,” Dent said. “As we toured these places and even the retail stores, you could sense the work ethic and the pride the young people took in their job.”

“It was impressive to see how proud they were of what they were doing and where they worked. It was great to see,” Dent added.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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