On July 9, 2014, USJC partnered with the United States-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON) to host a public policy program and reception on Capitol Hill. Nearly 100 people attended, including a dozen USJC members and several Members of Congress who spoke at the two events.
Click here to view photos from the policy program and the reception.
The policy program was themed on legislative exchanges and the U.S.-Japan relationship. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye opened the discussion by highlighting the significance of people-to-people exchange in all sectors of U.S.-Japan relations. The panel, which included Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), Frank Jannuzi, President and the CEO of the Mansfield Foundation, and Jeff Lowenstein, Deputy Chief-of-Staff and Legislative Director for Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), was moderated by Michael Schiffer, Senior Advisor and Counselor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also paid a visit to voice his strong support for U.S.-Japan relations.
During the panel discussion, Senator Harkin shared his personal testimony on how his repeated journey to Japan, as a navy pilot as well as a Senate on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, contributed to establishing friendships and commonalities across cultures. He indicated that U.S.-Japan legislative exchanges also have the potential to positively impact his constituents in Iowa. Senator Hirono, who is a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, voiced the critical role of funding in U.S.-Japan exchange programs and the importance of legislative participation in building U.S.-Japan relations. She also addressed women's leadership in Japan, stating that Prime Minister Abe is taking the right steps towards greater female presence in the work force. Mr. Jannuzi expressed his hope that future destinations of visits by Japanese Diet members would include regions besides Washington, DC, in order to showcase the diversity of the United States.
During the reception that followed, Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., impressed upon the audience the growing interest in U.S.-Japan relations within the legislature. He stated that 49 Members of Congress have visited Japan since the start of 2014. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), co-chair of the newly founded Japan Caucus, spoke how Japan is a critical ally in all areas of interest, such as security, peace and economic development, touching upon how his constituents greatly benefited from Toyota. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) also expressed her support for strong U.S.-Japan relations. The event concluded with a toast by USJC Vice Chair Henry Y. Ota, who has led many legislative exchanges with the organization.