Friday, July 07, 2006

Senator Rockefeller Visits Iwate

Yep, nearly 50 years ago Senator John D. 'Jay' Rockefeller IV visited Iwate to see a friend. Of course he wasn't a senator then, just a young college student taking a bit of a trip.

[Senator Rockefeller by photographer Rick Lee]

It seems the senator attended International Christian University in Tokyo from 1957 to 1960 before getting his degree in Asian Languages and History from Harvard University in 1961. Like many young people of the day he was inspired by Kennedy's Camelot and joined the Peace Corps for a few years where he oversaw their Philippines program.

The news from Japan, though, was not that the famous son was in Japan, nor that he was traveling to the remote North, but that, "Young John Rockefeller rides third-class train coaches in Japan!"

The experience of living, studying and making friends in Japan has served him well. As a senator, Rockefeller worked for 15 years to get Toyota to build a factory in West Virginia. In 1996 the company announced its plans to build an engine plant his state. Since then Toyota's investment has grown to over $1 billion and they have created over 1,000 jobs there!

His web site boasts, "As part of his economic strategy, Rockefeller in 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2001 led Project Harvest trade missions, introducing West Virginia businesses to Japan and Taiwan, opening markets for West Virginia products." Some of the Japanese companies besides Toyota now doing business in West Virginia are Wheeling-Nisshin Steel, NGK Sparkplugs and Okuno International.

Now I wonder how much that third-class ticket to Iwate has paid off over the years? Perhaps his friend became a big-shot at Toyota and remembered him! Read the article from the March 15, 1958 edition of the Odessa (Texas) American in the Iwate Buddy library!


Post a Comment

<< Home