Wichita — U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker and his Japanese counterpart, Shunji Yanai, will meet in this central Kansas city next week in an international business conference expected to draw 300 of the world's top industry officials.
The three-day joint meeting of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Assn. and the Japan-Midwest U.S. Assn. begins Sunday with tours of regional attractions.
But attendees are expected to get down to business on Monday as Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., starts off two days of seminars and other events.
Other anticipated participants include Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former U.S. senator from Kansas and the wife of the U.S. ambassador; Taizo Nishimuro, CEO of Toshiba Corp.; Charles Johnson, CEO of Cessna Aircraft Co.; Gregory Page, CEO of Cargill, Inc., among others.
"We have two major goals for this conference: one is to raise the visibility of the state in front of a global audience and to generate business opportunities," said John Watson, director of trade development division of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.
This is the first year Kansas has been host to the event.
"This is the largest, most ambitious hosting that the state has ever done," Watson said of the conference.
With its theme of "Creating a Global Advantage," organizers hope the meeting will provide an opportunity for Gov. Bill Graves and Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer to reach a global audience through the state's biggest trading partner.
Japan is Kansas' largest export market, buying more than $1 billion in goods and services each year, according to the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, which is organizing the conference.
"We hope there is a good exchange of ideas and business proposals that might lead to future trade," he said.