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Relationship with Japan

There are over 120 Nebraska companies actively involved in trade with Japan. The product areas are very diverse and they include:

automotive parts and supplies, medical/surgical related equipment and supplies, educational materials, water purification systems, lawn maintenance equipment, sporting goods, electronic equipment & components, and grain handling and storage equipment.

Japan is Nebraska’s largest foreign direct investor, having invested more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Because of this, the state has a trade office, The Nebraska Center Japan in Tokyo. The Japan office has been instrumental in identifying business partners and opportunities for Nebraska and Japanese companies alike.

The eldest Japanese investment is Kawasaki Motor Manufacturing, which is celebrating over 45 years of manufacturing in the state. Kawasaki’s rail car division in Lincoln is currently building rail cars for both New York City and Washington, D.C. that are valued at over $4 billion. The company chose their Nebraska plant to build the rail cars based on the productivity of their more than 2,000 employees in Lincoln.

Other recent investments from Japan include:

  • Morio Denki, a Japanese company making electronic components for rail transportation, who opened its first U.S. operation in Lincoln in 2013;
  • Marubeni, one of the largest and oldest Japanese trading houses, acquired Gavilon, an Omaha company specializing in food commodities; constructing a new headquarters and expanded its employment in Omaha;
  • The NTT Group (Nippon Telephone and Telegraph) acquired Solutionary, a computer network security provider with 175 employees;
  • Itochu Corporation, along with Flint Hills Resources and Benefuel Inc., have invested in a next generation biodiesel fuel project located in Beatrice and are retro-fitting an existing facility to provide 40 million gallons per year;
  • And Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has completed a capital invested in Monolith Materials in 2020 for its technology to produce hydrogen and carbon black from methane by the process of methane pyrolysis.

Just the same, Nebraska has a strong, cultural long-term relationship with Japan. There are two Sister City relationships the state has with Japan. Shizuoka is Omaha’s first sister city, and in 2025 is the 55th anniversary of this relationship. Hastings has had a Sister City Relationship with Ozu for almost 30 years.

Stemming from the Omaha/Shizuoka Sister City partnership in 1965, which concentrated their efforts on cultural and educational exchanges, we have grown into this current relationship between the State of Nebraska and Shizuoka Prefecture. While there are still efforts to strengthening the cultural and educational ties, there is always a large emphasis on economic development efforts and medical technology exchanges.

Since 1991, Nebraska has had a number of Governor’s Office-led trade missions to Japan. Nebraska has also been a member of the Midwest U.S. – Japan Association since 1987, and hosted the annual conference in 2018, which marked the 50th anniversary.