Delegation of Japanese American Leaders Meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 2013

TOKYO – Ten Japanese Americans from across the United States had the rare opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abe on March 15 to discuss issues pertinent to the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship as a part of the 2013 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program.

The delegates and U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye shared that Americans continue to support the rebuilding and revitalization of Tohoku and that the events of March 11, 2011 have not been forgotten. They also described the purpose of the trip as building people-to-people relationships with Japanese leaders from all sectors of society in order to strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations.

Prime Minister Abe thanked the delegation for demonstrating their continued support for Japan and said,“People-to-people exchange is the cornerstone of the U.S.-Japan relations. I would like to ask your continued contribution to further developing this bilateral relationship.”

The meeting came soon after Prime Minister Abe’s Feb. 22 meeting with President Barack Obama where the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together, especially in trade and security.

Immediately before traveling to Tokyo the delegates visited Fukushima for the first time in 12-year program history. In Fukushima, one of the hardest hit regions by the disasters and nuclear crisis, the delegates visited Fukushima Prefectural Medical University, a food monitoring center called Agricultural Cooperative Center and participated in the symposium “Towards Common Ground: Connecting Diverse Voices for the Future,” sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

The 10 participants of the program are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to deepening ties between Japanese Americans and Japan. JALD is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and organized by the U.S.-Japan Council, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to building people-to-people relations between the United States and Japan. For more information visit

2013 Delegates

Julie Azuma, President & Founder, Different Roads to Learning, DRL Books, Inc. (New York, NY)

Marion Friebus-Flaman, School Principal, Thomas Dooley Elementary School (Schaumburg, IL)

Martin Y. Iguchi, Dean & Professor, Georgetown University, School of Nursing & Health Studies (Washington, DC)

Kenzo Kawanabe, Partner, Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP (Denver, CO)

Emily Murase, Executive Director, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women (San Francisco, CA)

Verne Naito, Vice President, Naito Corporation (Portland, OR)

Kelly Ogilvie, Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer, Quemulus, Inc. (Seattle, WA)

Eric Takahata, Managing Director, Hawaii Tourism Japan (Honolulu, Hawaii)

David Yamahata, Deputy Chief, Los Angeles Fire Department (Pasadena, CA)

Amy Yamashiro, Data and Evaluation Coordinator, Arlington Public Schools (Arlington, VA)

For more information about the program visit: