May 1, 2014

U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter

May 1st, 2014


TOMODACHI and Pres. Obama

U.S.-Japan Joint Statement

Regional Events


Upcoming Event


U.S. & Japan in the News

The TOMODACHI Generation Meets President Obama in Tokyo

On April 24, President Barack Obama visited the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo and highlighted the importance of U.S.-Japan collaboration for innovation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas. Five TOMODACHI program alumnae were selected to attend this exclusive event and had an opportunity to meet with the President. More information and photos are available on the TOMODACHI website!


USJC, JALD and TOMODACHI Praised in U.S.-Japan Joint Statement

The U.S.-Japan Council, Japanese American Leadership Delegation and the TOMODACHI Initiative were mentioned in the U.S.-Japan Joint Statement released on April 25 during President Obama's recent visit to Asia. The U.S.-Japan Council and its programs were listed among "indispensable" programs that strengthen U.S.-Japan relations. See the full statement here.


Recent Events

Reception in Honor of Diet Members (Washington, DC)

USJC was one of the cooperating organizations for a reception that was held on Capitol Hill onApril 30, in honor of leaders from the National Diet of Japan. The Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) and The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation were the co-sponsors of the event. The reception welcomed more than twenty Diet Members, including those visiting on JCIE’s US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program and the Mansfield Foundation’s inaugural Thomas S. Foley Legislative Exchange Program. Ms. Heather Foley, widow of former USJC Board of Councilors Member and Ambassador Thomas Foley, gave opening remarks. U.S. Senator and Member of the Board of Councilors Mazie Hirono (D-HI), U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) and Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba (pictured below) also made remarks, and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae gave a toast. The Honorable Soon-ok Chun, Member of the National Assembly of Korea was also featured as a special guest. Other cooperating organizations were the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, US CULCON and the US-Japan-South Korea Legislative Exchange Program at George Washington University.

Breakfast Discussion on "Redefining U.S.-Japan Ties" (Southern California)

On April 28, USJC and Asia Society presented a discussion exploring ways to reshape and strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance amid a variety of regional challenges.

Speakers included (from L to R):
• Ms. Yuko Kaifu, Senior Vice President, Communications and External Affairs, Corporate Communications, Union Bank and USJC Council Member
• Dr. Daniel Okimoto, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stanford University, and Chairman, USJC Board of Councilors 
• Mr. Takeshi Niinami, CEO, Lawson Inc., and member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Industrial Competitiveness Council and USJC Board of Councilors Member
• Amb. Mickey Kantor, Partner, Mayer Brown, and former U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Secretary
The event was the latest in Asia Society Southern California's Asian Economic Outlook Series. More information is available here.



Seeking Applicants and Host Families for the 2014 TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program (Washington, DC metro area, summer) 

The purpose of the exchange is to promote cultural dialogue and understanding between DC and Japanese teens; to provide exposure to social entrepreneurship and organizations promoting social change; and to enhance the students' leadership skills and global awareness. The six Japanese exchange students will be in DC for 2- 1/2 weeks this summer.

Volunteer to be a Host Family! 
We are seeking families in the DC metro area to host the Japanese high school student of this program for 2 - 1/2 weeks this summer from July 18-August 3 (tentative). The flyer and information can be found here:

Apply to Participate! 
The deadline is Wednesday, May 7. 
DCPS and DC charter school students in 10th or 11th grade are invited to apply for this fully-funded program. We are particularly interested in students who have never traveled internationally before. Detailed information and application packets can be found here:

To learn more about this DC-Japan exchange program, and to keep up with the latest developments, go to   

Applications Open for TOMODACHI MetLife Women's Leadership Program

Applications are now open for the 2014-15 class of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women's Leadership Program (TMWLP). The 10-month mentorship program pairs highly-motivated Japanese female university students with Japanese female mid-career professionals to encourage networking among a select corps of Japanese women who show promise as Japan’s next generation of leaders. This year's program will take place in four locations: Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Naha.

Motivated, bilingual Japanese citizens and permanent residents are encouraged to apply as either participants or mid-career mentors, so please distribute this to your networks. More information about TMWLP is available online hereApplications are due by May 7, 2014.


TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) News Corner

Information about the 2014 ELP (including application instructions) coming soon!

Update from Nate Gyotoku (ELP 2013)

Aloha kākou!! Spring is here, and nothing better signals the Spring season than the blossoming of the sakura. In the Japanese culture, sakura (cherry blossoms) represent the fragility and fleeting beauty of life. The intensely brilliant blossoms bloom for a short period, then begin to fall a couple of weeks later.  The sakura reminds us that such intense beauty is temporary, much like our lives, and that we should also bloom brilliantly during our lives.

For me, the cherry blossom season brings with it our Cherry Blossom Festival, the signature project of the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC). For 62 years, the Cherry Blossom Festival has selected a handful of women of Japanese descent to represent the Japanese-American community in Hawaii. The Cherry Blossom Festival also provides young leaders the opportunity to learn leadership and project management skills by participating in the planning and execution of the festival’s events. All activities are planned and executed by HJJCC members, ranging in ages 21 to 40. The Cherry Blossom Festival consists of many events that require careful planning and execution, and provides a platform for our future leaders to grow and learn. 

As my involvement in the Japanese-American community evolves with the ELP program and the U.S.-Japan Council, I am reminded that our time is limited and we should capitalize on every opportunity to grow. As planning for the 2014 USJC Annual Conference in Hawaii intensifies, the excitement and anticipation builds.  I cannot express how excited I am to reconnect with my fellow ELP alumni, growing and cultivating our lifetime friendships. Our committee looks forward to showcasing our Hawaiian hospitality, and we sincerely hope that you can join us.

I hope that where ever you are in the world, you are able to view and enjoy the blooming of the sakura. Let the sakura remind all of us to seize the moment and take every opportunity to grow, learn and evolve.

Mahalo nui loa, a hiki I kā kākou hui hou ma ‘Okakopa! Thank you very much, and until we meet again in October!

- Nate Gyotoku


Upcoming Event

Washington DC - Japanese American Teams Up with Mozart for "Magic Flute"

This spring, the Washington National Opera is presenting Mozart's final opera, The Magic Flute, featuring colorful sets and costumes by renowned Japanese American visual artist and painter Jun Kaneko. The English-language performance runs at the Kennedy Center from May 3-18.

The Kennedy Center has graciously granted USJC newsletter subscribers 25% off valid on select orchestra sections (for performances of The Magic Flute on 5/5 at 7 p.m. and 5/7 & 5/8 at 7:30 p.m.). Enter code 176258 online, by phone or at the box office.

Jun Kaneko has also brought a free exhibition of his ceramic sculptures to the Kennedy Center's Hall of Nations from now until May 19. Balancing elements of both American and Japanese aesthetics, the installation features pieces from his series of HEADSDangos and TanukiLearn more about the artist.


Remembering Council Member Robert Nakamoto

We would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of long-time Council Member Robert (Bob) Nakamoto, who passed away on April 23. Mr. Nakamoto, a veteran of the Korean War, also served as President of the Japanese American Veterans Association from 2007-2011. He received Japan’s Foreign Minister Award in recognition of his efforts to enhance Japan-U.S. relations.

USJC Seeking Development Director

The U.S.-Japan Council is accepting applications for a Director of Development with extensive development and external relations experience. As the Council has grown significantly in the past five years, including our work on TOMODACHI, we are looking to add someone to our staff who will substantially grow our Development activities in this next phase of our growth. We hope our Council Members and supporters will help us recruit a wonderful new addition to our staff. A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website here:

USJC Member Bill Imada Named to President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

On April 24, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint USJC Council Member Bill Imada as one of 14 new members to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). The Commission is charged with working to improve the quality of life of AAPIs through increased participation in and access to federal programs. Mr. Imada and his fellow commission members will advise the President on innovative ways to engage AAPIs across the country and to improve their health, education, environment and well-being. See the announcement here.


U.S. & Japan in the News

Japan, US Discuss Agreement on Students
NHK World, April 30, 2014
US, Japan to Boost ASEAN Maritime Security
The Diplomat, April 30, 2014
Japan Retail Sales Surge on Tax Hike
BBC News, April 27, 2014
Five Takeaways from U.S.-Japan Joint Statement
The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2014
Narita Breaks Flight, Passenger Records
The Japan Times, April 25, 2014