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Governors from five Midwest states joined Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday in meetings with Japanese governors, officials, and company executives for the annual gathering of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.

The group, founded in 1967, meets yearly to discuss the growth and progress of economic relations of the American Midwest and Japan.

Governors from Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin planned to give speeches. The Japanese ambassador and the consulate general from Chicago attended the meeting.

The speakers also included Kikkoman Corp. Honorary CEO Yuzaburo Mogi, who is credited with introducing soy sauce to the United States in 1959. He is the Japanese conference chairman. He says the theme this year is building a robust and sustainable future. They hope this meeting will help identify and develop business opportunities for all of us.

Mogi joined executives from Nippon Airways, Toshiba and Toyota at the conference to discuss continued trade, government and business relationships between the two countries.

It is the 46th year the organization has met. Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, the U.S. conference chairman, said this year's goal is to find new synergies between the states highlighting growth in environmental industries and in the health and wellness sectors as the population of Japan and the U.S. states age.

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