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Japanese Business Roundtable Connects UT, Industry Partners

by Jason Moody

Leaders from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Japanese businesses across the State of Tennessee and community partners gathered at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy last month to discuss the close business relationship between Japan and the State of Tennessee.

Industry partner attendees included leaders from DENSO Corporation, Bridgestone Americas, RIX North America, Teijin Carbon America, Volkswagen Group of America, Sanki North America, Sofix LLC, JTEKT and Nissan North America.

Vice Provost for International Affairs Gretchen Neisler began the event by welcoming guests and emphasizing the strong relationship between Japan and Tennessee. Neisler commented that “over 200 companies in Tennessee employ more than 54,000 Tennesseans from Memphis to Johnson City and many places in between.”

Vice Chancellor for Research Deborah Crawford then spoke about how the innovative research partnerships between Tennessee and Japan make “life and lives better in Tennessee and beyond.”

Crawford pointed to UT’s industry partners as “critical to translating those innovations to the marketplace, often through pathways created by the state’s robust economic development initiatives, which connect Tennessee’s economy to industry trailblazers, not only across the US, but across the world.”

Consul-General of Japan in Nashville Yoichi Matsumoto addresses attendees during opening remarks

Consul-General of Japan in Nashville Yoichi Matsumoto addresses attendees during opening remarks. February 28, 2023. Photo by Jason Moody/University of Tennessee

Consul-General of Japan in Nashville Yoichi Matsumoto attended the day’s events and shared his strong support for the mutually beneficial relationship between Japan, UT and the State of Tennessee.

Allen Borden, deputy commissioner of business, community and rural development for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, shared a keynote address over lunch. Borden highlighted the direct positive impact that Japan’s $17.8 billion annual foreign direct investment has on the people and families in the state.

Five UT faculty presented short ‘lightning talks’ on their research which ranged from artificial intelligence to supply chain.

UT campus leaders moderated four roundtable discussions on the topics of diversity, research, talent engagement and supply chain.

UT leaders and industry partners pictured during the research roundtable session

UT leaders and industry partners during the research roundtable session. February 28, 2023. Photo by Amy Burgess/University of Tennessee

The roundtables served as a tool for UT leaders to learn from industry partners how to better prepare students to cultivate the knowledge and skills they need to meet the standards and expectations of diverse workplaces in their local, national and global communities.

After roundtable discussions UT undergraduate and graduate students presented research on renewable energy, public policy, manufacturing, language learning and cultural exchange.

Guests then toured the UT campus and finished the day in the Lauricella Center inside Neyland Stadium for a closing reception.

Event Sponsors and Partners

The event was hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Center for Global Engagement. UT campus partners included the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Department of World Languages and Cultures, the Division of Diversity and Engagement, the Haslam College of Business and the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

Business and community partners included the DENSO Corporation, Asian Culture Center of Tennessee and the Japan-America Society of Tennessee.

About the Center for Global Engagement

Reporting directly to the Office of the Provost, the Center for Global Engagement works to lead, coordinate and support the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s strategies for global education, research and engagement. This includes developing and managing international partnerships, welcoming and assisting international students and scholars, providing education abroad opportunities for students and creating international and intercultural programming for the campus and the broader community.


Jason Moody (865-974-5752,