Responding to a large influx of Japanese-owned businesses into South Carolina in the 1980s, a group of local business leaders got together to form the Japan-America Association of South Carolina (JAASC) in 1988 with the aim of promoting better cultural understanding between Japanese and Americans, particulary residents of the state.
Aside from organizing various social activities and events throughout the year, the non-profit organization also helps in financing the Japanese Saturday School in Greenville. The school, through its curriculum that includes mathematics and literature, allows its students to maintain and improve their Japanese language skills in case they ever return to Japan to continue their education or pursue university studies there.
Over the past few decades, South Carolina has witnessed ties between the local and Japanese expatriate communites grow closer and more integrated, not only in the social sphere but also in the economic field.
“The industries that are growing the fastest here the are automotive, aerospace and advanced materials sectors,” said JAASC Co-Chair Craig Lundgren.
Among the long-time Japanese players in South Carolina are Mitsubishi, JTEKT Automotive, Fujikura and Showa Denko Carbon.
Amid the consistent growth of large manufacturers, South Carolina has also seen promising performances from niche sectors, like life sciences, biotechnology, medical technology, and information computing. Thanks to the presence of the Uniiversity of South Carolina and Clemson University, technology companies have easy access to highly-skilled workers.
“South Carolina is a great environment in which to thrive because of our rich natural resources, welcoming community, and a workforce equipped with technical skills. JAASC will help promote investment and make it easier for companies and individuals to move here by fostering greater understanding through meaningful educational, social, and cultural exchanges,” said JAASC Co-Chair Kayla Murdaugh.