JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – For the first time in more than 20 years, Missouri’s governor is traveling to Japan on a trade mission with the goal of boosting business connections.

With nearly half a billion dollars in goods exported to Japan last year, the country is one of Missouri’s largest trading partners. There are more than 6,000 miles between Tokyo and Missouri, but Japan is a key business alley for the Show Me State.

“Hopefully, by the end of this, we will have an announcement for you that more jobs from Japan are being located in Missouri,” House Majority Leader Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, said Tuesday.

Patterson made the trip with Parson, along with the state’s economic development department, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and business leaders from around Missouri.

“It’s the third-largest economy in the world, and we believe that Missouri has a lot to offer to Japanese businesses, especially in terms of our agriculture, which is the number one business we have in Missouri,” Patterson said. “We have two goals here: one is to continue our relationship with the businesses, but we are also on the lookout for businesses that might want to move here.”

The state’s largest trading partner is Canada, followed by Mexico, China, Japan, and Belgium.

Of the $455 million worth of goods exported to Japan last year, those highest in demand were processed foods, chemicals and electronic products.

Patterson said the recent investment into the state’s infrastructure is a major talking point when meeting with Japanese businesses.

“Because of Missouri’s unique waterways, rail and roads and our recent investment into I-70, I think they are very pleased to hear that, that they will be able to move their products efficiently and that’s something that every company has really been happy to hear,” Patterson said.

The group met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday. Other stops on the trip include Panasonic, Toyota, Mitsubishi

Parson is the first governor to travel to Japan in decades. Before he left, the governor said he was looking forward to the opportunities this trade mission could bring.

“I think we will be right in their wheelhouse to bring some opportunities, to bring businesses here,” Parson said last week. “I don’t think there is any question when we go overseas on these particular missions that we understand how important infrastructure and workforce is. I almost wish all Missourians could go with me just to understand how we are moving forward and how other countries around the world are noticing us now to say, it’s a good place to do business, and we want to bring our companies here.”

This is Parson’s sixth trade mission while in office, with previous trips to Sweden, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

Overall, there are 70 Japanese companies in Missouri, such as Kawasaki, Toyoda Gosei, and Nitto. While over in Japan, there are 13 Missouri companies, which include Hallmark and Emerson.

Governor Parson and the team are set to return Thursday night.