Commissioner Kerschner’s thoughts from Japan

Commissioner Mike Kerschner is in Japan this week for a business recruitment and retention trip. Last month, the commissioners approved a supplemental appropriation of $5,000 to fund the trip. Kerschner is joined in Japan by a group including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, State Rep. Bill Reineke and Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz. Kerschner said it is important for the county to be represented on the trip because of the success of prior visits to the country. Those trips led to the establishment of several Japanese-owned businesses in Seneca County, including American Fine Sinter and Taiho. Those two companies are among the largest employers in the county, with about 500 people working for them. By having many state dignitaries at the conference, the hope is to bring back economic development projects, investment and new jobs to the county and to the state. Not only this, but those attending the trip hope to strengthen relationships with AFS and Taiho representatives in Japan. More information on the trip is available at this link.

Kerschner has been corresponding with the commissioners’ office since he left for Japan last Friday. Here was a submission we received from him earlier this week!

Commissioner Mike Kerschner (from left) poses for a photo with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife Fran.

By Mike Kerschner

Seneca County Commissioner

In order to get some perspective on time, it is about 7 a.m. on Monday here as I write this. In Tiffin, it is now about 6 p.m. Sunday night. We left Detroit on Friday about noon and arrived in Tokyo at about 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon after a 13-hour flight. The trick is to try to get some sleep on the plane and then stay up as long as possible when you arrive so you can get used to the time change. It is Monday and my body is still a little confused.

Yesterday, Sunday, Rep. Bill Reineke and I went to the Franciscan Center for church at 10 a.m. We walked back to the hotel and that took about 1 1/2 hours. We walked around all the federal buildings that housed the Japanese government offices. There was a tour by water scheduled in the afternoon, but that was canceled because of a Typhoon (named Faxai) that was going to hit this area last night — it did indeed hit and they are expecting 3-4 inches of rain along with 65 or 70 mph winds and some gusts up to 100 mph.

I did not realize that the 2020 Olympics are scheduled for Tokyo. There is a lot of construction for the games and the Japanese are very proud to host the Olympics.

Last evening, we had an opening reception and were able to have a few words with Ohio Gov. DeWine and his wife, Fran. They had a great buffet mostly consisting of sushi and other Japanese foods. I am not a big sushi guy, but there was salmon, a variety of crab, eel and a lot of local fish.

A number of seminars are scheduled for today related to economic development between Japan and the US midwestern states. We have lots and lots of business cards and hope to create some great contacts for the future.

David Zak, president of Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership, Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz and Representative Reineke has been very engaged in the process. David knows a number of elected officials and peers in the economic development area who are attending this conference and he is able to introduce us to many of them. Aaron has had the opportunity to talk about all the positives of Tiffin, Ohio, with a number of people and has been a great ambassador. Representative Reineke engaged the governor in conversation and has spoken to some of his counterparts from other states. We continue to be excited about the network we can establish with Japanese company representatives, as well.

Tonight’s dinner was quite an extravaganza. The U.S. Air Force band deployed in Japan entertained the group. It was about 15 pieces with a lead singer — they performed songs like “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and some Glen Miller Orchestra pieces — very entertaining. Illinois had a reception afterward and many of the companies from Japan were represented, including Toyota.

Just a few observations about the city of Tokyo and its citizens:

The city is extremely clean. All the buildings were erected in 1950 or later so the architecture is very modern.
No one is asking for a handout and, after walking around for miles, I have not seen one person living on the streets.
The people are extremely friendly and eager to give directions or offer assistance.
The streets are safe at any time of the day or night.
Virtually everyone is thin. Very few are overweight.