Local leaders celebrated the opening of auto parts supplier Yashima on Tuesday.

“Yashima USA initially will be supplying components to Nissan North America for the all-electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf,” Jack Sayed, president of Yashima USA, said at the Tuesday ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is exciting news for Chattanooga to have a company all the way from Japan. This is their first operation in the United States. Hopefully, eventually we will supply parts to Volkswagen as well.”

Yashima USA LLC is subsidiary of Yashima Denso Co.

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The vehicle components are made in Japan and shipped to Yashima USA, Sayed said. Yashima USA is currently focusing on the sales and marketing part of the business, he also said. 

Local employees take the orders from Nissan and work as an intermediary between the United States and Japanese offices, he said. 

Currently there are about four employees, two who will be going back and forth from Japan, but the goal is to eventually have the parts manufactured in Tennessee, Sayed said. 

Japanese executive Ryuichi Hayatsu, who is Yashima-Denso’s global chairman, was in town for the event, visiting from Tokyo.

The consul general of Japan, Hiroshi Sato, whose office serves a five-state region of Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, was also at the Main Street office Tuesday.

Sato’s job is to make sure that Japanese companies and citizens have favorable business and living conditions, which he said isn’t a difficult job.

He said that there is a strong partnership between Japan and Tennessee.

Throughout the state, there are 179 Japanese companies that employ about 35,000 people.

He also said Japanese investments in Tennessee total $14 billion.

Tennessee is attractive to Japanese business people because the residents and leaders are “so welcoming,” and the state government offers incentives to locate here, Sato said.

“If the number of opening ceremonies I attended in the last year is any indication, that partnership [between Japan and Tennessee] is still growing very strongly,” he said.

Updated @ 10:08 a.m. on 03/07/12 to add more information as it became available.

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