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Governor Brown rekindles ties in Japan, South Korea

Gov. Brown at Tokyo wine bar
Governor Brown's press office
Oregon Governor Kate Brown visits Kagurazaka Rouge, a Tokyo wine bar that sells Oregon pinot noir

Oregon Governor Kate Brown wrapped up a 12-day trade mission to Japan and South Korea this week. At a press conference from Tokyo Tuesday, Brown said Oregon is one of the most trade-dependent states, and one of only six states to see exports grow over the pandemic.

She spoke of one Willamette Valley product that’s in high demand there. “Both Korea and Japan love Oregon blueberries," she said, "and I knew that these countries loved this Oregon product, but everywhere we went, folks talked about Oregon blueberries and they’re being very creative in their use. I was just blown away.”

Korea is Oregon’s largest market for fresh blueberries, and Brown said talks are underway for them to import Oregon blackberries and raspberries as well.

The trip also focused on boosting Oregon’s tourism and semiconductor industries. More than 150 Japanese companies have operations in Oregon, including Hitachi, which opened a nanotechnology center in Hillsboro in September.

The governor also promoted Oregon pinot noir, which is popular in both countries. In Tokyo, she visited a wine bar called Kagurazaka Rouge that sells Pacific Northwest products and PDX Taproom, a restaurant that exclusively sells Oregon craft beer.

The border to Japan just opened two weeks ago, following pandemic closures. Brown said this was the first travel opportunity there since 2019.

Karen Richards has been a KLCC reporter since the fall of 2012.