Home Community Voices Building Stronger Aerospace and Tabletop Gaming Ties with Japan

Building Stronger Aerospace and Tabletop Gaming Ties with Japan

Building Stronger Aerospace and Tabletop Gaming Ties with Japan

By Steve Hobbs
Washington State Secretary of State

In April, I was honored to join a team of business owners, the Washington State Economic Development Board and other state representatives on a trade and cultural mission to Japan focused on making connections in the aerospace and tabletop gaming industries.

▲WA St. Sec. of St. Hobbs, right, with former Japanese Amb. to U.S. – Ichiro Fujisaki, middle, and Dep. Chief of Mission, U.S. Emb. in Tokyo – Raymond Greene, left.

Washington and Japan share more than seven decades of aerospace partnerships through the growth of Boeing and related companies such as technology and energy development. Those ties remain essential to the economies of both our nations. When my team met with Sekisui Aerospace, the North American headquarters for Sekisui Chemical Company based in Japan, last October we learned their Pierce County office struggled to find skilled workers. This year, I introduced them to the Transition Assistance Program at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord military installation to connect with possible employees in the apprentice and job-training program.

▲Alex Jerabek, left, owner of Cherry Picked Games gives his game Hair of the Dog to Kota Taira,right, CEO of Sunny Bird, board game café and publisher. 

We also have an opportunity to grow our international trade through mutual cultivation of the tabletop and role-playing computer gaming industry. Washington is home to many gaming companies, including Wizards of the Coast, creators of Dungeons & Dragons. These games are an excellent opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to come together, strategize and build relationships. More than 50 libraries across the state will receive a Dungeon & Dragons library box set. Many will also receive up to $2,000 to bring tabletop role-playing games to patrons through a grant program administered by the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of Secretary of State. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Wizards of the Coast donated the kits in March.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Tokyo Game Market, where we were accompanied by Washington-based tabletop computer gaming companies Heart of the Deernicorn, Cherry Picked Games, Flatout Games, Lone Shark Games and Green Ronin Publishing. This event proved to be a fruitful platform for establishing connections with Japanese game publishers and distributors, and an opportunity for the companies to make over $5,000 worth of sales at the Tokyo Game Market booth.

During our trip, we met with leaders from the U.S. Embassy and the Japan External Trade Organization. We met the former Japan ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo Raymond Greene, with whom we discussed the economic and trade opportunities with Japan.

We have reflected on the deep ties and mutual prosperity between Washington and Japan businesses. Through the aerospace and tabletop computer gaming industries, we are inspired to continue creating in-person connections to bolster economic ties between Washington and Japan.