BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — What started as a business relationship between West Virginia and Japan has evolved into what one senator describes as a true friendship.
And on Monday, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin welcomed 46 senior business executives from Japan to the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport during part of the executives’ 10-day nationwide tour.
But there’s a reason the executives decided to stop in West Virginia. The relationship between Japan and West Virginia started many years ago thanks to Sen. Rockefeller, who said Japan was a passion of both his mother and father, who visited Japan each year for the last 30 years of their lives.
“There’s no way of describing the depth or feeling my mother and father had for Japan,” said Rockefeller.
In 1957, Rockefeller left Harvard, where he had been a student, because he needed a change. He thought people during that time were not as aggressive and ambitious as people are today. He wanted to find out more about himself, so he left Harvard and traveled overseas to Japan. Once he arrived, he enrolled in college there.
While in Japan, Rockefeller learned both the northern and southern languages of Japan. He also inherited a desire to work with foreign countries.
When Rockefeller became governor of West Virginia, he developed a desire for the state to have a close relationship with Japan. He insisted working with Nagoya, Japan, because that’s where business was taking place.
He knew the task wouldn’t be easy…