Council Member Dr. Susumu "Sus" Ito Captivates Audience at AJC-USJC Reception

On September 9, the American Jewish Committee Asia Pacific Institute and the U.S.-Japan Council jointly held a private reception at the Manhattan home of AJC President Stanley Bergman and Dr. Marion Bergman. The reception featured Dr. Susumu "Sus" Ito, a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran who was a Second Lieutenant of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) (U.S.). 

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Dr. Ito shares stories of his youth
The 522nd FAB, composed entirely of Japanese Americans, was part of the U.S. forces that discovered and liberated the Dachau concentration camp system from the Nazis during World War II, freeing thousands of Jewish survivors.
Dr. Ito, who is 96 years old, is a member of USJC and a professor emeritus of Harvard Medical School. During the event, he shared many of the thousands of photographs he took during the war. His story captivated the audience of over forty leaders of Japanese American, Japanese and Jewish American communities in New York City, including the Consulate-General of Japan in New York.

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(L-R) Board Member Gary Moriwaki, Director of the AJC Asia Pacific Institute Shira Loewenberg, AJC Executive Director Dr. Marion Bergman, AJC President Stanley Bergman, Dr. Ito, and USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye
The following afternoon, USJC convened a luncheon with a few Council Members and friends, where Dr. Ito expanded on his stories and personally engaged with those who were present. The reception and the luncheon reflect USJC's commitment to strengthen the diversity of leaders involved in the U.S.-Japan relationship.

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(L-R) Ms. Hirano Inouye; Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Consul General of Japan in New York; Dr. Ito; and Council Member Julie Azuma reflect during the luncheon
To learn more about Dr. Ito, see this Los Angeles Times article and this CNN article. His photos were recently exhibited at the Japanese American National Museum.
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Lori Matsukawa to receive Foreign Minister's Commendation

On August 18, Council Member Lori Matsukawa was named a recipient of the Foreign Minister's Commendation. The anchor of KING-TV in Seattle helped establish the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington in 2003, and participated in the 2004 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program. The Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle announced her award with high praise, noting that her "congeniality and persistence in both her professional and personal pursuits have forged close friendships and new connections on both sides of the Pacific."

She joins the ranks of New York-based USJC members Gary Moriwaki and Susan Onuma, who received the commendation last year. For more information, please see theannouncement by the Seattle Consulate.

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Roy Yamaguchi Selected as Nisei Week Grand Marshall

Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Roy Yamaguchi was appointed as the Grand Marshal for this year's Nisei Week (August 15-23). For the past 75 years, the Nisei Week Foundation has been celebrating the Nisei Week Japanese Festival in Los Angeles, complete with cultural activities from ikebana to calligraphy, and the famous Grand Parade.

As Grand Marshal, Mr. Yamaguchi, the founder of Roy's Restaurants, led the Grand Parade on August 16. A samurai-themed Nebuta float that was custom made in Japan was shipped to Los Angeles for the occasion. Photos from the parade can be seen here.

For more information on Nisei Week, please visit its webpage. To read more about Mr. Yamaguchi's appointment, please read the announcement.

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ELP Alumnae Play Vital Role in Opera Involving Japanese American History

The following piece is by 2013 alumnae of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders ProgramGabrielle Gainor and Kei Tsu, who are working on an upcoming Seattle Opera production called "American Dream" (more information in the Upcoming Events section below). We thank both of them for their contribution!


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(L-R) Ms. Kei Tsu, Ms. Gainor and singer Nina Yoshida Nelsen in between rehearsals forAn American Dream

When Seattle Opera's An American Dream premieres this month, the audience will see a production that's been shaped in unique ways by Gabrielle Nomura Gainor and Kei Tsu, who first met one another as 2013 Emerging Leaders. Ms. Gainor, a gosei, is now Seattle Opera's Media Relations Manager, and also serves on the Board of Directors for Seattle JACL and the Editorial Board of National JACL's Pacific Citizen newspaper, and was previously on USJC’s Communications Committee. Ms. Tsu, a yonsei/sansei, teaches Japanese and Spanish at Kentlake High School in Kent, WA in addition to being a fourth-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Naginata. 

"I was the bridge between Seattle Opera and the Nikkei community," said Ms. Gainor, whose grandfather was born in the Santa Anita Assembly Center before being incarcerated with his family at Heart Mountain. "I would not allow Seattle Opera to use harmful euphemisms to describe the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans in any of our press, marketing or social materials. This proved to be a challenge at times, because words such as 'camp' and 'internment' are so familiar."

Ms. Gainor brought in terminology based on Densho (headed by Council Member Tom Ikeda) literature and JACL's "The Power of Words" handbook to her work place. She ensured that the Japanese and Asian community was involved in the entire process of the opera's creation; bringing singers to perform at Nikkei Concerns' retirement home, for example; and roping in her ELP colleague Ms. Tsu as the production's official Japanese language consultant.

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(L-R) Nina Yoshida Nelsen, mezzo-soprano; Adam Lau, bass; and Hae Ji Chang, soprano, singing in the summer 2014 workshop for An American Dream (Photo by Brandon Patoc)

One of Ms. Tsu's duties was to work with performers on their pronunciation. "One character, 'Mama,' (portrayed by mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen) is a Japanese immigrant," she said. "I had to think about how a Japanese person would pronounce English words while maintaining comprehensibility, and without it becoming stereotypical."

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Conductor Judith Yan makes her Seattle Opera debut in An American Dream (Photo by Alan Alabastro)

Ms. Tsu and Ms. Gainor have stayed in touch since their ELP days, and think it was fun and rewarding for the colleagues and friends to reunite. 

"This has been incredibly powerful and personal work," Ms. Tsu said. 


An American Dream premieres at Seattle Opera on August 21 and 23 (Vice Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors Norman Mineta will be speaking at the post-performance discussion on Sunday). The production is made possible by Community Partners including Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle JACL and the Japanese American National Museum. (Council Member Lori Matsukawa and KING 5 plan to cover the dress rehearsal on August 18.)

To see more information or to buy tickets, click here. Soundbites from the opera are available here.

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Amy Yeung Awarded as “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” by ACC

Associate Member Amy Yeung received the “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” award from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) for her noteworthy accomplishments as the Assistant General Counsel for ZeniMax Media Inc, including her lead role in the company’s U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief, which argued that video games should be protected as artwork under the First Amendment. Click here for more information.

Ms. Yeung was selected out of over 130 global nominations for this award that recognizes in-house counsel in their thirties who showcase “tireless innovation, love of practice and international perspective.” More information is available in ACC’s press release.

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Dianne Fukami Gives TEDx Talk

Council Member Dianne Fukami spoke at TEDxPeacePlaza (held in San Francisco) this past May, with the theme "Moving on from adversity - what is the key?". She discussed the Japanese American experience during the War and the stories of those who survived the Great East Japan Earthquake--and explained how she saw the Japanese characteristic she grew up with as the key to moving on. The video of her talk was recently uploaded here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wj7rcMDYdU

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Amy Yeung awarded as “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” by ACC

Associate Member Amy Yeung received the “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” award from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) for her noteworthy accomplishments as the Assistant General Counsel for ZeniMax Media Inc, including her lead role in the company’s U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief, which argued that video games should be protected as artwork under the First Amendment. Click here for more information.

Ms. Yeung was selected out of over 130 global nominations for this award that recognizes in-house counsel in their thirties who showcase “tireless innovation, love of practice and international perspective.” More information is available in the ACC’s press release.  

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Paul Watanabe honored by AAPIP

Council Member Paul Watanabe has been honored by the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) as one of 25 "Leaders in Action," diverse leaders throughout the country who "reflect the important work that each of us can do to make a collective impact on philanthropic giving." Click here for more information.

Dr. Watanabe was also recently appointed as a Member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Also part of this prestigious commission is Council Member Bill Imada.

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Margaret Cummisky to Lead Hawaiian Airlines' Federal Relations

Council Member Margaret Cummiksy has taken a new position with Hawaiian Airlines as their new Managing Director of Federal Government Relations. Ms. Cummisky formerly worked as the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and before that was a senior staff member for Senator Daniel K. Inouye. She will open the Washington, DC office for Hawaiian Airlines on June 27.

In a press release by Hawaiian Airlines, the company's Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs is quoted as saying: "Margaret's knowledge of Hawai'i and Washington makes her the ideal person to amplify Hawaiian [Airlines]' voice in our nation's Capital." For more information, please see the release here.

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Lori Matsukawa Speaks at the University of Washington

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Ms. Matsukawa's selfie with the 2015 graduates

Council Member Lori Matsukawa was named the 2015 Distinguished Alumna by the University of Washington (UW) Communication Department, and recently spoke at UW. Here are some inspiring words from Ms. Matsukawa:

"One of the honors of being named the University of Washington Communication Department's 2015 Distinguished Alumna is getting to address the graduates at commencement (June 11). It was thrilling to see all those eager faces ready to conquer the world! I told them humanity needs its stories and its storytellers. Believe and soar!"

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