Delegation of Japanese American Leaders Meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (March 2017)

Tokyo, Japan – The 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) met with Prime Minister Abe on March 7 to discuss issues pertinent to the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship.

Prime Minister Abe welcomed the eleven-member delegation and thanked U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye for demonstrating their continued support for Japan and said, “I am sure that the efforts of Japanese Americans are a major reason that [the Japan-U.S.] alliance has become as robust as it is now.” (For a summary of his speech, click here.) The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for his support of U.S.-Japan relations and of Japanese Americans. (More information is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Japanese) and a video (Japanese Government Internet TV) of the meeting).

The meeting was one of the highlights of the 2017 JALD program, which provides opportunities for Japanese Americans to establish a meaningful role in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. Other leaders they met in Tokyo included executives in Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), two prominent business associations; ministry officials in the Abe administration; and several Diet members. The delegates also attended a reception, hosted by the TOMODACHI Initiative (a public-private partnership between the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy, with support from the Government of Japan), which commemorated the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. 



Before attending meetings in Tokyo, the delegates visited Kanazawa, a UNESCO "Creative City." They participated in a symposium titled “Culture and Community Engagement: A Japanese American Perspective,” co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the U.S.-Japan Council, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ishikawa Prefectural Government. The event was well received and attended by over 150 people.




The eleven 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


2017 Delegates

  • David Boone (Alexandria, VA), President, CB&I Federal Services
  • Jason Fujimoto (Hilo, HI), President & COO, HPM Building Supply
  • Sawako Gardner (Portsmouth, NH), Judge, 10th Circuit Court, Portsmouth District Court, State of New Hampshire
  • Roy Hirabayashi (San Jose, CA), Co-Founder and past Executive Director, San Jose Taiko
  • Leslie A. Ito (Los Angeles, CA), President & CEO, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center 
  • Lynn Nakamoto (Portland, OR), Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court
  • Patrick Oishi (Seattle, WA), Judge, King County Superior Court
  • Ken Russell (Miami, FL), Commissioner, City of Miami
  • Michael Takada (Chicago, IL), Chief Executive Officer, Japanese American Service Committee
  • Wendy Takahisa (New York, NY), Executive Director, Office of Community Relations, Morgan Stanley 
  • Gary Yamashita (Denver, CO), Chief Executive Officer, Sakura Square

For more information about the program and the 2017 delegates, visit:


Photo Captions:

First photo: The JALD group at the TOMODACHI Reception with Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan. (Left to right) Ken Russell, Gary Yamashita, Leslie A. Ito, Patrick Oishi, Jason Fujimoto, Mrs. Abe, Irene Hirano Inouye, Lynn Nakamoto, Michael Takada, Sawako Gardner, Roy Hirabayashi, David Boone, Wendy Takahisa

Second photo: The Symposium in Kanazawa featured (from left) Leslie Ito, Ken Russell and Wendy Takahisa, who discussed the impact culture has on community development