Economic and Cultural Relations with Japan

Colorado and its capital city of Denver are a center of activity in the region of the Rocky Mountain West. The Rocky Mountain area and states within the region generally enjoy a traditional history of agriculture and mining, along with a proud sense of independence and strong Western/cowboy heritage.

Today the state is a major center of transportation, education, information technology and research, mining and energy, government, and tourism for the entire region, as well as for the nation. Colorado boasts an abundance of natural beauty, with the Rocky Mountains running north-south through the state, and is a major tourist destination for with several world-class ski resorts and national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

Business and cultural ties are strong, vibrant and growing between Colorado and Japan. Many large and small Colorado companies conduct business in Japan, while a variety of Japanese companies have operations in Colorado, representing a wide range of industries. Highlighting this economic interaction are companies from the fields of advanced technology & electronics, traditional and renewable energy, mining, agriculture, medical and aerospace industries.

Significant research cooperation in various fields is also conducted with operations at several high-level research facilities located in Colorado, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others. Colorado also maintains a significant number of military installations, including the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, NORTHCOM/NORAD Headquaters.

The state’s major trading partners are Canada and Mexico.  Japan was Colorado’s 4th largest export destination in 2015.  Main export items to Japan include beef and other agricultural products, computer and electronics equipment, and various machinery including instruments and medical equipment.

Approximately 80-100 Japanese or Japan-based companies maintain operations in Colorado, including branch offices of many major Japanese companies.  An affiliation of these companies operates a Japanese school for expatriate and local families with children needing supplementary instruction in Japanese curricula.

A direct nonstop flight connection began service in 2013 between Denver International Airport and Narita International in Japan. This has been a positive development, as tourism and business relations between Colorado and Japan, as well as between the Rocky Mountain region and Asia in general, have benefitted from this. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and other economic development organizations in Colorado have been actively promoting trade and investment from Japan.

There is a very active Japan-related community in several areas of the state, including organizations such the Japan America Society, US-Japan Council, Japanese-American Citizens League, Sister Cities International, and several others.

The state of Colorado is partnered with Yamagata Prefecture as its sister state, and the city of Denver maintains a vibrant relationship with its sister city of Takayama.  Several other Colorado cities enjoy strong sister city ties in Japan as well, including:

Aspen--Shimukappu Village (Hokkaido)
Aspen--Katsuyama (Fukui Prefecture)
Boulder--Yamagata (Yamagata Prefecture)
Broomfield--Ueda (Nagano Prefecture)
Canyon city--Kahoku (Yamagata Prefecture)
Colorado Springs--Fuji-yoshida (Yamanashi Prefecture)
Frisco--Nishikawa (Yamagata Prefecture)
Greeley--Moriya (Ibaragi Prefecture)
Longmont--Chino (Nagano Prefecture)

The annual Sakura Matsuri festival organized by the local Japanese community in June is one of the larger Japanese related cultural events in Denver each year.

Colorado enjoys unique and very positive historical ties with the local Japanese-American community, relating to the administration and policies of Governor Ralph Carr in the 1940's. The Granada Relocation Center (Camp Amache) in southeastern Colorado has been partly preserved and is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Japanese Residents

There are approximately 4,200 Japanese residents in Colorado (as of October 2015). Of those, many residents live in the Denver metropolitan area, as well as in other major cities such as Boulder and Colorado Springs. There are two Japanese schools in the Denver metropolitan area.