Asian American Politicians Discuss U.S.-Japan Relations with USJC Corporate Partners

June 22, 2016 at 6pm - 9pm

Congressman Takano (center) with representatives of USJC Corporate Partners

On June 22, USJC welcomed about 30 representatives of Corporate Partners for a lunch discussion with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA-41). The talk, titled "Asian Americans in U.S. Politics," provided an opportunity to hear Senator Hirono and Congressman Takano talk about their experience in Congress, as well as U.S.-Japan relations and other issues of national interest.

Senator Hirono, a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, is the first—and currently only—Asian American woman in the Senate. She encouraged more Asian American and Pacific Islanders to become politically active and run for office. Being engaged in politics can also start with registering to vote, which is crucial for the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, she said. Senator Hirono also touched upon the importance of encouraging underrepresented groups to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and discussed her work as Co-Chair of the newly formed Innovation Caucus.

Senator Mazie Hirono (center) with guests

Congressman Takano, who entered politics after two decades in teaching, emphasized the importance of foreign exchange programs. He discussed how some students from his district in California recently went to Japan, and how they—especially the lower-income students—benefited enormously from the visit. He explained that these experiences could lead to strong and unique bonds later on, like Congressman Joaquin Castro's leadership as Co-Chair of the U.S.-Japan Caucus, or Senator Daniel Inouye's support for Israel.

Congressman Takano shares his experience in teaching and politics

Representative Kriselda Valderrama, Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, also addressed the audience briefly. She is one of a handful of Asians, and the only Filipino, in the Maryland state government. As a participant of the 2015 Asian American Leadership Delegation Program, she visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year along with five other state legislators. She said that the highlight of the trip was learning about the Japanese government’s efforts to promote women in the business community.

Representative Valderrama addressing the audience

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye then gave a brief overview of upcoming USJC activities, including the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley and TOMODACHI programs, and concluded the luncheon. We thank all the speakers and guests of this event!

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