Irene Hirano Inouye Honored by Ford Foundation

On February 7, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was honored by the Ford Foundation, where she previously served as trustee and Chair. She was honored as one of two outgoing trustees at an event held at the United Nations in New York. Several USJC members were in attendance, including Legacy Council members Gary Moriwaki and Susan Onuma, and Council Leaders Kiyo Matsumoto and Akiko Otani (who is also USJC Director of Development).

(L-R) Ms. Ko Chin; Irene; Darren Walker (center), President of the Ford Foundation; Ms. Sasaki; and Mr. Ferris

Leaders of other organizations in which Irene is involved also came to celebrate her. This included Kathy Ko Chin, Trustee at the Kresge Foundation; Lisa Sasaki, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and James M. Ferris, Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC). (Irene is Chair of the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center, member of the Advisory Board at the USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy and a former Trustee and past Chair at the Kresge Foundation.)


Allen Okamoto and Gary Mukai Honored by the Government of Japan

This month, Member of the Legacy Council Allen Okamoto and Council Leader Gary Mukai each received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Government of Japan. Their decorations were part of the 2017 Autumn Conferment. Many USJC members in Northern California attended the ceremonies that San Francisco Consul General Jun Yamada held for each of the leaders.

Mr. Okamoto was recognized on February 14 for his contributions to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, including his work as co-chair of the San Francisco Osaka Sister City Association, co-chair of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival and President of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

Consul General Yamada with Mr. Okamoto

Dr. Mukai was recognized on February 8 for his contributions to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening U.S.-Japan relations through education, especially as Director of the Stanford Program on International & Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Dr. Daniel Okimoto (who is also Stanford Professor Emeritus of Political Science) made remarks at the ceremony, and USJC members including Associate Rylan Sekiguchi (who wrote this article for SPICE) were in attendance.

Consul General Yamada pinning the ribbon on Dr. Mukai


USJC Members Commemorate "Fred Korematsu Day" 

Several USJC members were instrumental in recognizing "Fred Korematsu Day" (January 30, which would have been Mr. Korematsu's 99th birthday this year) in their communities.

Mr. Korematsu was a civil rights activist who fought against Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II. Several states recognize January 30 as "Fred Korematsu Day," which is the first such commemoration for an Asian American in the United States. (Google also honored him with a Google Doodle last year, which was widely shared.)

This year, New York City held its inaugural celebration. Last December, the New York City Council passed a resolution to establish January 30th as an annual observance. Speakers at the event included Council Leader Julie Azuma (who is a Founding Member of the New York Day of Remembrance Committee) and Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute. Several USJC members attended, including those who are affiliated with Japanese American organizations that co-sponsored the event. (Click here to read the announcement by (run by Council Leader Susan Hamaker) and here to read a post in The New York Times.)

Separately, Council Leader Ken Russell, who is Commissioner of the City of Miami, issued a proclamation that January 30th would be Fred Korematsu Day in Miami (pictured in the screenshot below with Council Leader Jose Fuentes (right of Mr. Russell)).



Colbert Matsumoto Featured in The Hawaii Herald


Member of the Legacy Council Colbert Matsumoto was featured in The Hawaii Herald for receiving The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Government of Japan. Consul General of Japan in Honolulu Koichi Ito presented Mr. Matsumoto with the Imperial Decoration last month. Mr. Matsumoto was recognized for his involvement in the Japanese and Japanese American community and U.S.-Japan relations, including his fundraising efforts to aid those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Island Holdings Inc., where Mr. Matsumoto is president and chairman, was a key sponsor in the 2017 Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, which accelerated regional and international exchange with prefectures in Japan that have interests in and connections to Hawaii.



Duane Kurisu Leads Efforts to Build Affordable Housing with Homes from Tohoku

​Council Leader Duane Kurisu​, Chairman and CEO of the aio Group, is the driving force behind Kahauiki Village, a community of affordable housing units in Hawaii. The first families moved in last week.

Japan played a role in making this possible: the prefabricated, modular homes come from Tohoku, and previously housed those who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Earlier this month, Japanese dignitaries paid a visit, praising the initiative.

Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Iwao Horii (left) was among the Japanese dignitaries who visited the community. Mr. Kurisu is third from right.

Inspired by the plantation community culture, Kahauiki Village provides family-friendly services like child care and preschool facilities, and keeps utility costs low through a microgrid that stores solar energy in batteries. It is meant to provide long-term housing and opportunities for homeless families in transitional housing. (Read more about Mr. Kurisu's vision here (Hawaii Home + Remodeling is published by aio.)) When completed, the community will include 153 homes, with rents about 50% below the market rate, and nearby employers will provide jobs within walking distance.

This large-scale public-private partnership is the result of collaboration among government entities (including the State of Hawaii, the City & County of Honolulu, the U.S. Navy and the Hawaii Army National Guard) and dozens of companies, including several led by or affiliated with USJC members, such as ​aio, iQ 360, Hawaiian Electric Company, HPM Building Supply and Y. Hata & Co., Ltd.

The community has received extensive media coverage, including Hawaii News Now, Honolulu Magazine, and KITV. Congratulations to Mr. Kurisu and everyone involved in the project!


John Onoda Receives Page Center Award


Congratulations to Member of the USJC Board of Councilors John Onoda, who will receive the 2018 Larry Foster Award from Pennsylvania State University's Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication! Mr. Onoda is recognized for his distinguished career in communications, and for being an ethical leader in the corporate communications field. See this page for more details. 


Daniel Okimoto Reflects on His Journey in Five-Part Interview


A five-part interview with Dr. Daniel Okimoto, Co-Chair of the Silicon Valley Japan Platform and Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, was recently published in Japan Forward, a Sankei Shimbun-affiliate. The series, written by editor-in-chief Yasuo Naito, discusses Dr. Okimoto's passion for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Japan; his childhood during World War II and the incarceration of Japanese Americans; his youth in academia; his wife, Council Leader Michiko Okimoto; and the future of U.S.-Japan relations.


Five Council Leaders Recognized by the Government of Japan

Congratulations to Member of the Legacy Council Colbert Matsumoto, who received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette last month from the Government of Japan (pictured below). He was recognized for strengthening and promoting mutual understanding between Japan and the United States in the fields of economic and scientific technology.

Mr. Matsumoto (front row, second from right) and Consul General Ito, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu (front row, second from left) with family

Four other Council Leaders also received decorations as part of the 2017 Autumn Conferment. In San Francisco, Member of the Legacy Council Allen Okamoto and Council Leader Gary Mukai received decorations for their work in promoting regional exchange and educational exchange, respectively, between the two countries. Council Leaders Paul Watanabe and Kerry Hada received decorations in Boston and Denver for their contributions to U.S.-Japan relations as Japanese American leaders. We congratulate these five leaders!


Janelle Sasaki and Yuta Hasumi Present at Hays Gender Diversity Event

Council Leader Janelle Sasaki and Associate Yuta Hasumi served as panelists at the Hays Asia Gender Diversity Event on November 30 in Tokyo. Hays is a professional and skilled recruitment company that supports the advancement of women in the workplace. The annual event with the theme of “Women and Men Agree: Gender Diversity is Good for Business but Few Women are at the Top” attracted 100+ business and Human Resources leaders from both multinational and domestic companies in Japan. 

Janelle Sasaki (second from left), Yuta Hasumi (right) and other panelists discuss the benefits of gender diversity

The goal of the event was to share the findings of the 2017 Asia Gender Diversity Report, followed by an engaging panel discussion with gender diversity and legal experts. The findings revealed a clear link between diversity and business success. The interactive panel discussion highlighted the importance of discussing the benefits for business with all levels of the organization, creating meaningful career opportunities for women and discouraging gender bias. About half of the audience members were men, and the panelists recognized them for their attendance and shared best practices on male champions in supporting the career advancement of women in Japan.


Lori Matsukawa's Multimedia Piece Further Highlights Recovery Efforts in Fukushima

Council Leader Lori Matsukawa's piece about her recent trip to Fukushima has been expanded with additional multimedia content. Many thanks to Associate Mio Yamamoto, Co-Founder and Managing Director of World in Tohoku, for the following introduction! 

In October 2017, twelve leaders from the United States and Japan participated in the Cross-Border Learning Journey hosted by WIT. They visited social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations in Fukushima and explored collaborative opportunities across different sectors and countries. During the one-week Journey, participants from New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo were very much inspired by the time spent with the social entrepreneurs and local people, who are creating a sustainable and resilient civil society despite the tremendous adversity. We hope to keep strengthening the mutually supportive and inspiring relationship, which emerged out of the Journey, to make the world a better place. I hope you will enjoy the following wonderful story written by one of the participants, Council Leader Lori Matsukawa: 



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