Mayors across the nation have been invited to visit Japanese cities as ambassadors of American culture on the American Train, an effort to improve the trade balance between the two countries.

Kyoichiro Sugiyama, international director of the Conference of Local Authorities, Tokyo, invited city bosses attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote their products and services directly to the Japanese people."U.S. mayors know their communities well and can identify those local companies seeking to enter the Japanese market," Sugiyama said, during a session of the conference, held in Salt Lake City this week. "The American Train in Japan is an historic project which hopes to demonstrate our country's commitment to opening our market to American products."

The American Train project, an 11-car train showcasing American technology, culture, products and services, will travel throughout Japan for 12 months, beginning July 4, stopping in Japanese communities with U.S. sister city ties.

The goal is to enhance U.S.-Japan friendship at the grass-roots level.