Some 200 Japanese journalists attending the G8 Summit in Sea Island will be surprised by the business ties linking Japan and the Southeast, according to Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Although former President Carter and Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are well known in Japan, he said during a visit to Atlanta last week in preparation of the June 8 summit that few in his country know of the presence of more than 300 Japanese companies in Georgia.

With a consumer-led recovery pulling Japan out of a decade of recession, most Japanese, he said, will be watching to see if the leaders of the world’s most industrialized countries will be able to reach a consensus on the reconstruction of Iraq.

“Japanese people are beginning to benefit from the growth of the global economy,” he said during a press luncheon, adding that they fear the fighting in the Middle East may disrupt the recovery.

While the Japanese journalists will be covering international political and economic news, they also will be keeping an eye out for anecdotal stories.

For instance, it is possible, he said, that they will notice that although Americans are complaining about rising gasoline prices, the price of gas does not seem to have reached as high as it is in Japan – with a gallon of regular gas costing more than $3 there.

Mr. Takashima distributed profiles of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the ministers for foreign affairs, finance and economy trade and industry. He also passed out position papers concerning the Japan’s efforts to assist the reconstruction effort in Iraq, Japan’s support for Afghanistan and the nuclear weapons issue in North Korea.

In addition, he distributed statistical charts showing Japan’s rank as the world’s second most important economy, the amount of U.S. direct investment in Japan, Japan’s position as Georgia’s second largest export market after Canada as well as historical information reviewing 150 years of U.S.-Japanese relations.

“Japan is still a bargain for U.S. companies that want to invest there,” he added. “And the good news on the trade front is that there is no trade friction.”

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