Governor's Trade Mission News
October 11, 2003
Alaska Kai is an organization formed in 1963 to promote Japan-Alaska interests. The organization was founded in Tokyo, and has continued to promote friendship and economic cooperation between Alaska and Japan. Their operating budget is from membership fees from the member organizations.
In the mid-60s, a second organization was formed, called Alaska Nippon Kai. This group continues today in Alaska under the name Alaska Kai.
During his remarks, Murkowski noted that Alaska has a long history of relations with Japan through the Alaska Kai organization, and mentioned that the first post-World War II Japanese investment overseas was Alaska Pulp Company in Sitka and Wrangell.
Every member of the lunch was invited to give short remarks, which focused on interests such as timber, seafood, energy, tourism, and other business relationships. Several of the speakers centered on the governor's desire to pursue direct passenger air service between Alaska and Japan.
"I am pleased to visit Japan for the first time as Governor," said Murkowski. "Although I have been here numerous times as U.S. Senator, I feel honored to be in the company of friends. Alaska and Japan have enjoyed business ties for many years, and we want to make sure that this mutually-beneficial relationship furthers the interests of business people in Japan and Alaska."
The lunch ended with pledges all-around to work on the direct airline connection.
Companies present at the lunch included Ishiyama Co., Alaska Pulp Co., Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Kokudo Co., and Mitsubishi Co. The Alaska Kai board consists of the Chairman, Mr. Hiroshi Shimizu, former president of Kyokuyo Company, and 45 executives --all representing leading corporations in the fields of wood products, lumber, fisheries, oil and gas, chemical fertilizer, construction, trading, energy, and tourism.
Joining Murkowski on his trade mission to foster business ties are Bob Thorstenson, Chris von Imhof, Alan Austerman, Mike Menge and Margy Johnson. The group will attend meetings with Japanese businesses involved in seafood, tourism, energy, and mining.
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