Washington - Japanese companies employ more than 35,000 people in Michigan, up 6 percent over 2011, with half in the manufacturing sector.
The consul general of Japan in Detroit said employment in Michigan from Japanese firms rose to 35,554 in 2012, up 2,208 jobs over 2011, even though the number facilities fell from 486 to 481.
Of total jobs of Japanese firms in the state, 95 percent are held by Michigan residents — or 33,815 — and 1,739 are Japanese citizens working in the state.
"Japanese automakers and their suppliers continue to boost investments in their R&D, sales, as well as manufacturing operations in the great state of Michigan," said Kuninori Matsuda, Japan's top diplomat in Detroit. "These companies have rebounded admirably from the challenges of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, and as Michigan's economy and business climate continues to strengthen, so too does their commitment to producing, employing and investing locally."
Most of the facilities are manufacturing related — or 262 — and 167 are auto-sector related. The auto sector accounts for 43 percent of total employment. Many major Japanese auto suppliers have facilities in Michigan and many Japanese automakers have technical, research and engineering centers.
Like many U.S. companies and other countries, Japan's investment in Michigan has fallen over the last decade.
In 2007, Japanese companies had 545 facilities in Michigan and 39,771 employees. Since 2002, the number of employees in the manufacturing sector from Japanese firms has fallen by 21 percent. That's a smaller drop than the Michigan economy as a whole, which lost nearly half of its manufacturing jobs from 2000 through 2010.
Japanese nationals in Michigan have jumped 46 percent over the last decade to 11,048.
Japan this month has asked to join free trade talks with 11 other nations led by the United States called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. U.S. automakers, the United Auto Workers union and many Democrats in Congress oppose the move because they argue that Japan's auto market has remained essentially closed to most U.S. auto exports.
They argue that if the U.S. dropped its tariffs on Japanese cars and trucks it could cost thousands of U.S. jobs.