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NC Governor to Welcome Japan PM Kishida04/12 06:12


   RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- After spending a few days in Washington emphasizing 
global security concerns, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to tour 
around North Carolina on Friday to spotlight a different interest: his nation's 
title as the state's biggest foreign investor.

   Kishida, who has been Japan's prime minister since 2021, is scheduled to 
visit two Japanese companies and North Carolina State University after arriving 
Thursday night, according to Gov. Roy Cooper's office. In between, Kishida 
plans to have lunch at the governor's mansion in a historic first for the Tar 
Heel State.

   "Well, this puts North Carolina in a global showcase," Cooper told reporters 
Thursday. "Having the prime minister come and to acknowledge North Carolina 
when he could have gone to any one of the 50 states -- it is a big deal."

   Kishida said in a news conference before his visit that he chose to stop in 
North Carolina to show that the Japan-U.S. partnership extends beyond 
Washington, according to a provisional translation posted on the prime 
minister's website.

   To kick off the tour, Kishida and his delegation plan to visit an 
up-and-coming Toyota Motor Corp. electric and hybrid battery plant in Liberty 
and the Honda Aircraft Co. headquarters in Greensboro.

   Chiaki Takagi, a Japanese studies lecturer at the University of North 
Carolina Greensboro, said the prime minister's visit surprised her but it could 
signal a "positive future partnership" between Japan and the U.S. and more 
Japanese workers coming to the state.

   "This whole thing will provide the area with opportunities to be engaged in 
very active cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S.," Takagi said. "And 
it's nice to know Greensboro will be the place."

   Japan is North Carolina's largest source of foreign direct investment, 
according to the governor's office. About 30,000 state residents work for 
Japanese companies, Cooper said.

   One of those companies, Fujifilm, announced a $1.2 billion investment in its 
biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the state hours before Kishida landed.

   The luncheon will mark the first time a foreign head of state has visited 
the governor's mansion since records began being kept in 1891, state Department 
of Natural and Cultural Resources spokesperson Michele Walker said.

   Kishida met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss security 
concerns about China's military and reaffirm the U.S.-Japan alliance publicly. 
In a joint address to Congress on Thursday, Kishida made his case for the U.S. 
to remain an involved player in global security. He called China's actions the 
"greatest strategic challenge" to the international community. Beijing has 
pushed back strongly on Kishida's actions during his visit.

   Later Thursday, the first trilateral summit between the U.S., Japan and the 
Philippines met at the White House to respond to Chinese "intimidation" in the 

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