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Granholm Discusses Water Quality, Global Economy with Shiga Prefecture Governor

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Liz Boyd, Governor's Office
(517) 335-6397

Governors Meet on "Michigan" Boat in Japan

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today met with Governor Yoshitsu Kunimatsu of Shiga Prefecture, Japan to discuss the importance of freshwater preservation and to share their mutual concerns about invasive species that contaminate freshwater lakes.

The meeting took place aboard a boat named the "Michigan" on Shiga's Lake Biwa on the second day of Granholm's five-day investment mission to Japan. Shiga is a sister state to the state of Michigan.

"Our two states, though half a world apart, stand together as partners to protect our valuable natural resources," Granholm said. "Invasive species not only endanger the purity and beauty of our lakes and streams but also the economies that rely on these abundant natural gifts."

To commemorate the meeting, Granholm joined Governor Kunimatsu in a ceremonial release of native Crucian Carp into the lake.

In 1968, Michigan and the Shiga Prefecture became sister states based on their common interest in protecting water resources. Lake Biwa, Japan's oldest and largest freshwater lake, has experienced a recent influx of invasive species that threaten native fish and fauna populations. The prefecture government employs 43 workers netting invasive species every day, and commercial fishermen are paid by the kilogram for invasive catches they turn in.

A friendly crowd joined Governor Granholm on the "Michigan" sternwheeler. Students from Lansing Community College's Japan Adventure work-study program serve as crewmembers on the cruise ship while studying and living in Japan.

Following the meeting with Governor Kunimatsu, Granholm visited the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) located in nearby Hikone. The center, administered through Michigan State University's International Studies and Programs Office, accepts students from any college who come to study Japanese or environmental programs. A board of representatives from all 15 Michigan public universities governs the center.

The Governor's five-day investment mission to Japan includes individual meetings with senior-level executives from 14 Japanese companies, as well as seminars and government meetings. Her delegation will meet with more than 150 representatives of business, higher education, and government during the week. Her aim in this mission is to forge stronger alliances with the leadership of the country's automotive and new technology industries to bring new, job-creating business development to Michigan.