Japanese diplomat visits Grand Rapids


Mitsuhiro Wada. Courtesy Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit

A symbolic gesture of respect is bringing one of Japan’s most important Michigan figures to Grand Rapids tomorrow.

Mitsuhiro Wada, the consul general of Japan in Detroit, will make a couple stops during his time in town.

Wada, whose jurisdiction covers Michigan and Ohio, is scheduled to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

While at the museum, he plans to place flowers at President Ford’s burial site to honor the man who was the first sitting U.S. president to visit Japan.

Wada will be visiting the museum from 10:15-10:45 a.m.

As the consul general, Wada’s role is to protect the interests of Japanese-American citizens and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well as promote an overall better understanding of his country and its culture.

His appointment began on Aug. 24.

Existing relationship

“It is a great honor to work in Michigan and Ohio in the Midwest, which has a particularly close relationship with Japan," Wada says on the website of the Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit. "The expansion of Japanese companies in the region is truly remarkable."

The 487 Japanese facilities in Michigan employ more than 38,000 people, and the 422 Japanese facilities in Ohio employ more than 71,000 people, the site says.

"Japanese companies have greatly contributed to the local economy,” Wada says.

In both states, there are about 26,000 Japanese nationals, and the consulate is ranked 16th out of the Japan's "top diplomatic missions in the world."

In Michigan, there are also 27 sister-city relationships with Japan, along with the Michigan-Shiga sister state/prefecture relationship. In Ohio, there are 14 sister-city relationships, along with the Ohio-Saitama sister state/prefecture relationship.

"These exchanges are very active at the grassroots level,” Wada says.

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