Kyushu, Japan's closest base to the rapidly growing East Asian economies. Thanks to its close proximity to East Asia, Kyushu has a long history of interacting with the East Asian regions economically and culturally. Today, Kyushu is still closely linked to Asian cities. For example, as of 1999, trade with Asia accounted for more than 45% of imports and exports (exports: 14.3 billion US dollars; imports: 11.5 billion US dollars) and 519 firms established business links in Asia. Kyushu is already well on the way to becoming a central point in the growing East Asian economies.