Posted on: Monday - Apr 4, 2016

On March 30, Speaker Beth Harwell and House leaders honored the Consul-General of Japan Masami Kinefuchi. Kinefuchi was appointed on April 1, 2015 and serves in Nashville. He has jurisdiction over five states where more than 400 Japanese companies are located. He spoke during the ceremony about the relationship between Japan and Tennessee: 

“I am honored to stand on the chamber floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives. I wish to first thank Speaker Beth Harwell for her kind hospitality today. I also wish to sincerely thank each Tennessee State representative here today, for your dedicated efforts to create a welcoming atmosphere not just for me, but for every Japanese citizen who has the fortune to reside in this wonderful State of Tennessee.

Since I arrived to assume my post as Consul General of Japan in Nashville, I have experienced true Southern hospitality. I have come to experience firsthand the gracious climate that so many Japanese business owners, tourists and students before me have found so appealing. My office has built great relationships with Gov. Bill Haslam and his Cabinet and I am especially pleased to become even closer with Tennessee’s legislative branch today.

Japan and the U.S. are committed partners in providing economic, trade and investment opportunities in our two nations. When I arrived here, the relationship between Japan and Tennessee was already very good. It is a pleasant challenge for me to find ways to make it even better. But with the kind assistance of Gov. Haslam’s Cabinet and government officials, I am able to enhance our friendly ties in many aspects. Activities include grassroots exchanges, cultural events, networking with veterans, support for Japanese businesses, promoting sister city relationships and direct communication with various communities. In fact, the friendships and business partnerships between the people of Japan and the people of Tennessee are a shining model for the rest of the nation – and, indeed, for the whole world. For example, more than 180 Japanese-owned companies employ 49,000 Tennesseans across the Volunteer State.

Beyond business, the people of Tennessee and Japan also participate in meaningful cultural and human exchange programs. As we move forward in an increasingly complex, interdependent world, our world needs true leadership – in bilateral cooperation, Japan and the U.S. are poised to provide global leadership in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. In the last place, let me express my heartfelt gratitude again for the recognition of my efforts today. This is a great honor not only for me and my office, but also for Japan. Thank you for helping make Tennessee a true friend of Japan.”

Prior to taking the office of Consul-General, Masami Kinefuchi served as Assistant Vice Minister at the Ministry of Justice in charge of immigration policy. He graduated from the National Defense Academy of Japan in 1981 and received a Master’s Degree of Strategic Studies and International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies and International Economics at Johns Hopkins University.

Only one state in the country—California—has more Japanese companies domiciled there than Tennessee. In 2015, Tennessee imported $7.2 billion worth of goods from Japan. The largest Japanese employers in Tennessee are Denso, Bridgestone, Caslonic and Yorozu. Since 2011, Japanese-owned firms in Tennessee have committed to 12, 416 jobs and a capital investment over $3.4 billion.