Gov. Pillen and Nebraska trade delegation meets with Japanese officials

By: - September 11, 2023 12:42 pm

Gov. Pillen touts Nebraska meat products at Homeplus, a Korean discount retail chain. It is the second-largest retailer in South Korea with 135 stores. During the visit, Pillen saw how Nebraska beef is marketed to consumers. After South Korea, the governor and a 20-member state delegation went to Japan. They are to return to Nebraska Tuesday.(Courtesy of Governor’s Office)

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen, speaking from Japan on Monday, said a Nebraska trade delegation is winding down its weeklong mission that he said is building upon relationships the state has with international trade partners and businesses including Kawasaki Motors.

“The part I’m most proud of is we’ve really had what I would call tangible meetings that are going to result in a lot of  business taking place that’s going to be beneficial for Nebraska,” Pillen said during a phone conference with reporters.

The governor didn’t detail any new initiatives, though he repeated that the Nebraska group of about 20 hopes to grow the state’s clean hydrogen sector. He has said also that the delegation is promoting Nebraska agriculture.

“We can make so many things in Nebraska,” Pillen said. “The goal is to be able to process more corn, process more soybeans, have manufacturing grow, so that we can have an impact around the world.”

9-11 pause

Gov. Jim Pillen on Monday, the anniversary of 9-11, asked Nebraskans to pause to give thanks for the “liberty and freedoms” they enjoy.

He took a moment, during a phone conference about the international trade mission he was on, to recognize the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the crash of United Airlines Flight 93. 

He said he hopes that everyone old enough to remember where they were on that day 22 years ago will share the story and discuss the event with family and friends. 

“…So this injustice never ever leaves our families for generations,” Pillen said.

The Nebraska delegation — which included agents of the State Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development as well as the Nebraska Public Power District and Lincoln Chamber of Commerce — planned to return Tuesday from the trip to South Korea and Japan.

The trade mission trip follows one the governor led to Vietnam in July.

In South Korea, the group met with such companies as SK Inc., which seeks to make carbon-neutral energy accessible to global markets. SK has invested in Monolith Materials of Hallam, which produces clean hydrogen.

In Japan, the delegation met with such companies as Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, which has a manufacturing plant in Lincoln.

Pillen — whose family runs a Columbus-based hog operation, Pillen Family Farms, which is Nebraska’s largest pork producer — said he thanked Japanese officials for being Nebraska’s largest export market for pork and eggs.

He said he thanked them for being the state’s second largest export market for beef, and the third largest export market for corn.

Us Nebraskans, we are just humble people and, dadgummit, we gotta brag more.

– Jim Pillen, governor of Nebraska, speaking during a trade mission to South Korea and Japan

Jason Ball, president of the Lincoln Chamber, said during the phone conference that in-person conversations make a difference in building partnerships.

At the meeting with Kawasaki, he said, he felt proud to hear its leadership “bragging” about Nebraska workforce and skills. Kawasaki next year is to mark 50 years in Lincoln.

“They really credit that as a big piece of their success as they entered the U.S. market 49 years ago now,” Ball said. “We’re going to be looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary in the U.S. and in Lincoln.”

The governor tagged onto that remark, saying he’ll keep boasting — “until the cows come home” — about how “extraordinary” Nebraskans are.

Said Pillen: “Us Nebraskans, we are just humble people and, dadgummit, we gotta brag more.” 


Gov. Jim Pillen speaks at a conference in Japan, during a weeklong trade mission to South Korea and Japan. The group of about 20 Nebraskans is to return Tuesday. (Courtesy of Governor’s Office)


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.