Dowdell going to Japan

Published 11:09 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

From Staff Reports ATLANTA — Americus has been selected by the Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG) as one of four cities in the state to participate in the society’s inaugural GEN-J Community & Business Trip to Japan. The other cities are Athens, Dublin, and Savannah. City leaders were selected for the all-expenses paid trip with a focus of expanding Japan-America relations across Georgia beyond metropolitan Atlanta. According to Americus City Manager Charles Coney, a JASG board member, “The GEN-J Invitation Program provides an opportunity to visit Japan for community and business leaders in the Middle West and South region of the United States. Through the program, the Japan Foundation hopes that the participants will develop a network with the Japanese business leaders and gain a deeper understanding about Japan and Japanese companies.”
Americus boasts a strong International Sister City relationship with Miyoshi City (formerly Konu), Japan, affirmed by an annual exchange program that began more than 20 years ago. Konu and Americus, separated by two continents, formed a strong tie that grew out of an act of kindness extended by former President Jimmy Carter.In his promotion of peace, Carter was instrumental in saving the temple bell of Shoganji Temple in Hichi of Konu town, Japan. The bell survived World War II without being melted for weapons. Today “The Bell of Hiroshima” is now displayed at the Carter Center in Atlanta, as a symbol of peace and a gift of appreciation from Konu town. The replica, given by Carter, hangs at the original temple for visitors to ring for peace.
The exchange has extended beyond the students and has included mayors and other community leaders. Representing Americus in the GEN-J Georgia Delegation will be Council member Daryl Dowdell. Dowdell has been on the City Council since January 2016. A DeSoto native, Dowdell’s father was stationed in Germany and has traveled internationally thus making him a prime candidate for this cultural and business exchange. Dowdell will be joining other government leaders including Savannah Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Bell, Dublin Mayor Phil Best (also Georgia Municipal Association first vice president), Savannah Council member Julian Miller, and Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams. JASG Vice President Al Hodge will also be accompanying the delegation.
“The itinerary is a robust one affording meetings in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto prefectures, Aichi and Mie prefectures, and Fukuoka and Yamaguchi prefectures with Japanese companies, Daikin Industries, Denso Corporation, Nippon Steel, and Sumitomo Metal Corporation,” said JASG Executive Director Yoshi Domoto. “We [JASG] have a unique and important part to play as the state’s foremost bridge between Japan and Georgia, between Japanese visitors and Georgia’s citizens, between Georgia’s corporations and Japanese markets, and between Japanese and American families in Georgia.”
The Georgia Delegation’s trip to Japan is timely as the 45th anniversary of the opening of the Japan‘s Consulate General in Atlanta was celebrated just last month hosted by Consul General Takashi Shinozuka at his residence. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, senior executives from nine of Japan’s largest companies operating in the state, local city, county, and state officials, representatives of Georgia’s U.S. senators, and long-term Japan supporters participated in the event, which ended with the governor and consul general planting a cherry tree as a symbol of the friendship (which originated in February 1974) binding Japan to the state. In a Global Atlanta article, Consul General stated, “It was the time of Governor Jimmy Carter. Since then, the state of Georgia, the Georgia General Assembly, and the local communities across Georgia have always helped the Japanese community and Japanese companies along this journey.” While Japan now has 1,200-1,300 Japanese affiliated companies in the consulate’s Southeast district including North and South Carolina, Alabama. and Georgia, he added that “half of them are in Georgia.” He also recognized Georgia for having nearly half of the 21-22,000 Japanese citizens living the Southeast. Underscoring the cultural intimacy of Georgia-Japan relations, last year boasted more than 20,000 attendees at the annual JapanFest, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the Southeast. Additionally, more than 32,000 tourists from Japan visited Georgia last year.
With 41 years of cooperation between seven Southeastern states and Japan alternatively hosting the Southeast U.S./Japan Association (SEUS)-Japan meetings, Georgia is readying for the 42nd such meeting to be held in Savannah this coming October. This prestigious gathering of global business leaders celebrates longstanding economic and cultural ties and offers delegates from Japan unparalleled opportunities to meet key contacts and leverage international opportunities. Georgia is regarded as the center of Japanese industry in the Southeastern United States. Japanese-affiliated companies have invested over $10.4 billion in Georgia, where 547 Japanese-affiliated companies currently operate. Together, these companies employ nearly 37,000 workers state-wide.