Basic Information about Kentucky


Links to Basic Economic Data

Commonwealth of Kentucky

City of Louisville

City of Bowling Green

City of Lexington


  • Kentucky’s nickname, the “Bluegrass State”, originates from a species of non-native grass commonly found in both pastures and lawns.
  • Kentucky sits within two different time zones.  The eastern part of the state lies in Eastern Standard Time, while the western half of the state lies within Central Standard Time.
  • Kentucky was the birthplace of both national leaders during the Civil War.   Union President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis were born about 100 miles apart.
  • By land area, Kentucky is the 37th largest state in the nation, or about one-quarter the size of Japan.
  • Kentucky is the 26th most populous state, with about 4.5 million residents in 2020.  About 58% of the population resides within urban areas.

Japanese Business Connections

  • The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Commission reports nearly 200 Japanese-owned companies operating in the state. Employment by Japanese owned companies is estimated to be at least 47,000 people, accounting for about 42% of all employment created in the Commonwealth by foreign direct investment. Japan is the largest foreign investor in Kentucky.
  • Leading Japanese companies with operations in Kentucky include automotive-related companies such as Toyota, Hitachi, Sumitomo, and many others.  Kentucky is also home to iconic liquor companies, including BeamSuntory, Four Roses(Kirin) and AGE International.
  • Toyota’s Georgetown plant, built in 1985, was the company’s first wholly-owned manufacturing plant in the United States.   The facility has attracted many supplier companies, such as Toyoda Gosei, Toyota Boshoku, Toyotetsu, and others, to locate in the state.
  • Launched in 2016, the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” honors the shared love of horse racing by offering a starting gate position to the top finisher in the Japanese race series.  Typically run on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby is hailed as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sport.”
  • Kentucky exports about $32 billion in products each year.  Of that amount, about $1 billion is exported to Japan annually.  Top exports to Japan are civilian aircraft and parts (HS8800), alcohol (HS2208), and live horses (HS0101).
  • Kentucky imports about $57 billion in products each year.  Of that amount, more than $5 billion is imported from Japan annually.   Top imports from Japan include blood & vaccines (HS3002), turbines (HS8411), motor vehicle parts (HS8708), and medicaments (HS3004).

Representative Office in Japan supports bilateral trade & investment

       Mr. Mike Takahashi, Executive Director
Asia Representative Office
Commonwealth of Kentucky
No. 71, 12th Floor, Ark Mori Building, East Wing 12F
1-12-32 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo Japan 107-6012
Phone: 011-81-3-3582-2334
FAX: 011-81-3-4360-8464

State Government Priorities

  • Governor Andy Beshear (Inaugurated in December 2019) has summarized his administration’s priorities with an acronym, “WHERE”, referring to Wages, Health Care, Education, Retirement, and Example.   The final priority “example” is a reference to finding common ground and maintaining a tone of civility and collaboration.
  • Wage improvements are an important step to improving the lives of Kentuckians.  The Beshear administration is continuing a focus on creating and attracting good paying jobs.
  • Health Care is viewed by Gov. Beshear as a basic human right.  Shortly after taking office his administration rescinded policies that would have further restricted eligibility for Medicaid and he committed to increasing health care funding and programs. 
  • Education efforts have included a reorganization of the state board of education and a renewed focus on public education.  Testing fees for GEDs, a high school equivalency, were eliminated for first-time test takers and the administration is also working to expand education support.
  • Retirement and pensions have been a major challenge for Kentucky because of underfunded programs.  Beshear’s administration is working to raise investments in the state’s pension funds.
  • Gov. Beshear’s 2021 budget priorities envision a three-pillared approach.   Those pillars are support for families and small businesses, prioritizing the welfare of people, and investment in the future.  The pillars identify priorities in a broad array of interconnected needs, including education, worker training, health care, infrastructure investment, pension investment, social justice, etc… The Gov. also plans to smooth the paths to medical marijuana, sports betting, and horse racing programs, all of which have both social and financial impacts.

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