Since Alaska became a state in 1959, Japan has been the one of the state’s largest international trade partners. Japan is a consumer of many of Alaska’s major exports, including seafood, minerals, energy, and forest products. In 2014, Japan accounted for about 20 percent (about $1 billion) of Alaska’s $5.1 billion total value of exports.
Both Alaska and Japan have unique characteristics that create the basis of the mutually beneficial economic relationship. Alaska’s vast amount of land and natural resources allow the state to produce large amounts of energy and forestry products. The cooler climate makes Alaska’s surrounding waters home to a diverse array of sealife, allowing Alaska to have a successful fishing and seafood industry.
While Japan does not have as much land for natural resources as Alaska does, Japan has a much larger population, and thus a larger workforce. Energy resources from Alaska can be used to fuel technology, transportation, and infrastructure in Japan.