In April 2013, USJC Chairman of the Board Thomas Iino was announced as a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. The Government of Japan bestowed upon him this honor for his contributions to strengthening the economic relationship between the U.S. and Japan and for promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two countries.
The Order of the Rising Sun was established in 1875 as the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government. The modern version of this honor has been conferred on non-Japanese recipients beginning in 1981. The awarding of the Order is administered by the Decoration Bureau of the Office of the Prime Minister and is bestowed in the name of the Emperor.
"I am humbled by this recognition from the Government of Japan. I have committed a large part of my life (substantially voluntarily) to assisting the relationship-building process between the U.S. and Japan because it is the right thing to do. Helping lead the U.S.-Japan Council’s mandate to advance this strategy has been a labor of love from the beginning," said Mr. Iino upon hearing the news.
The Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles featured the following description about Mr. Iino's U.S.-Japan Council and TOMODACHI contributions:
"He has been a driving force in the U.S.-Japan Council since its founding and currently serving as the Chair of the Board. He has contributed greatly to developing the Japanese American community and people-to-people relationships with Japan through focused programs such as the Japanese American Leadership Delegation and programs addressing commercial, diplomatic and educational exchanges between the two countries. Additionally through the leadership of Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, Ambassador John Roos and Mr. Iino himself, in 2012 the U.S.-Japan Council established the TOMODACHI Initiative, which aims to support Japan’s recovery after the Great East Japan Earthquake, strengthen long term Japan-U.S. cultural and economic ties and deepen the bilateral friendship. TOMODACHI focuses on investing in future generations and coordinates a variety of exchange programs between Japan and the United States."
More information from Rafu Shimpo here.
On April 16th, 2013, Prudential Financial, Inc. named USJC Board of Directors Member Royanne Doi its new corporate chief ethics officer. As the chief legal officer for Prudential of Japan, she has been based in Tokyo and will remain in Japan. This decision allows the U.S.-based corporation to address ethics from an international perspective. “As a global organization, our thinking must also be global and reflect the transcultural nature of the corporation," Doi said. "But at the same time my goal is to bridge cultural differences and ... remain focused on our core values no matter where we work.”
More information is available via Prudential here.
On November 19th, 2012, Nippon.com featured an interview with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye. In the interview, she reflects on the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship, the unique role that Japanese Americans can play in that relationship and the ways in which the TOMODACHI generation can continue to strengthen these ties:
"Many young Americans are interested in all the things that have come to be a part of the “new Japan.” I have hope for the younger generation. This is why I think it’s so important to invest in young people: young Americans, including Japanese Americans, and young Japanese alike. The work that the US-Japan Council has been doing on the Tomodachi Initiative is vital. As this initiative has begun bringing young Japanese to the United States, we have whenever possible helped young Japanese to meet young Japanese Americans. It will be important to ensure that the next generations of Japanese Americans are more connected to Japan than the sansei were. I see a great deal of enthusiasm among young Japanese Americans who want to learn more."
The full interview is available here.
On November 7th, the Center for American Progress (CAP) announced that Board of Councilors Member Glen S. Fukushima had joined the organization's National Security and International Policy team. Mr. Fukushima will serve as a Senior Fellow and will focus on U.S.–Japan relations, U.S. foreign policy in East Asia, and international trade. He joins the Washington, DC-based CAP following his retirement from Airbus, where he was the Chairman and Director of Airbus Japan, K.K. in Tokyo. We congratulate Mr. Fukushima on this new stage in his career. More information is available from the Washington Post and CAP's website.
On October 9th, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye accepted the Japan Foundation Award in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. In its 40th year, the award is presented annually to individuals and organizations that have significantly contributed to the promotion of international mutual understanding and friendship. Irene was honored for her career in promoting a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship through the Japanese American National Museum, U.S.-Japan Council and TOMODACHI Initiative. The award ceremony was attended by her husband, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Crown Prince Naruhito, HRH Princess Takamado and Ambassadors Ryozo Kato, Hiroyasu Ando and John V. Roos.
On September 14th, Council Member Allen Okamoto was honored with the Foreign Minister's Commendation in his native San Francisco. Mr. Okamoto was recognized for his service to the Japanese American community and his work in promoting mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan. In addition to USJC, Okamoto is involved with the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, the Japanese American Citizens League, San Francisco Japantown Foundation and many other national and regional Japanese American organizations. Among the speakers at the ceremony was U.S.-Japan Council senior vice president Kaz Maniwa, who commended Okamoto as "a calm and collected leader ... with a steady demeanor at all times."
Reports by Nichi Bei Weekly's Tomo Hirai were used in this article.
On January 26th, 2012 at the Japanese Consulate General in New York, U.S.-Japan Council Member Grant Ujifusa received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. The honor was given to Mr. Ujifusa by the Government of Japan for his long career working to promote the history of Japanese Americans and enhance the U.S.-Japan relationship. In particular, Mr. Ujifusa was a main catalyst in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided redress for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. A native of Wyoming who met internees from the Heart Mountain camp, he worked with Congressional members from both houses and both parties to move the bill through the legislature and played a key role in convincing President Ronald Reagan to sign the bill into law. A story on Mr. Ujifusa can be found here, and his speech at the Consulate General is available here.
Wendy's has made its return to Japan, under the guidance of U.S.-Japan Council Board Member Ernest Higa. The fast food chain, which closed its 71 stores in 2009, marked its return with the opening of a restaurant in Tokyo's Omotesando neighborhood. Mr. Higa hopes that a combination of traditional menu items and new specialties will fuel an expansion to 100 locations within five years. Japan Today's interview with Mr. Higa about succeeding in the Japanese market can be found here.
Actor and USJC Board of Councilors Member George Takei has announced the premiere of his next project. Allegiance - A New American Musical tells the original story of the Omura family, sent to an internment camp following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Takei, best known for portraying Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek television series and movies, has called the project "the culmination of my life's work." He has devoted much of his work to enhancing the understanding of the Asian American experience, including participating in Allegiance readings and workshops since 2009. Alliegiance debuts at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre on September 16, 2012. More information on the production is available at the Old Globe's website here.
December 7th marked the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In an interview with National Public Radio, USJC Board of Councilors Member Daniel K. Inouye shared his experiences. Witnessing the events in Hawaii moved Sen. Inouye to serve his country in the U.S. Army, where he became a highly decorated veteran and an inspiration for future Japanese Americans. His interview is available on NPR's site here.