TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference in DC Inspires Students

October 20, 2016 at 6pm - October 23, 2016
Washington, DC

Students gather to hear stories from Sara Cook (center), an NHK Associate Producer following the presidential campaigns

The Third TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference, held from October 20 to 23, was hugely successful, inspiring dozens of American and Japanese students studying in Washington, DC and beyond. Themed “U.S.-Japan Relations in the Nation’s Capital: Leadership, Legacy and Public Service,” the conference welcomed students attending a college or university in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, DC, North Carolina and South Carolina.

ELP alumni (L-R) Brandon Mita, Lianna Kushi, Rei Tsuchiya and Sonya Kuki share their experience as young professionals

The jam-packed program included speeches by Joe Young, Director for Japanese Affairs, U.S. Department of State; David Nakamura, Staff Writer at The Washington Post; and R. Michael Schiffer, Senior Advisor/Counselor at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who each spoke about U.S. diplomacy, the challenges of covering the White House during the election season, and the U.S. legislative system. The students also heard from Nobuko Sasae, Conference Interpreter and wife of Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, and learned about her work in supporting women's leadership, as well as how she balances a global career with responsibilities as the ambassador's spouse. Mary Murakami, who was interned during the war, and Lt. Col Michael J. Yaguchi (Ret.) of the Japanese American Veterans Association spoke about their experience as Japanese American leaders. Panels and a speed-dating style roundtable discussion featured dozens of DC leaders affiliated with Japan, including heads of nonprofit organizations, educators, scholars, diplomats and journalists. The students also networked with USJC staff and young professionals during meals, learning about how they came to work in U.S.-Japan relations. 

Mrs. Sasae (on stage, left) inspires students with her stories on how she supports women leaders

ELP alumni and USJC Associates were also actively involved, two of them traveling from Houston and Boston. Sonya Kuki, Lianna Kushi, Brandon Mita and Rei Tsuchiya spoke about their experience as young professionals and how they first began pursuing their careers. Kuriko Hasegawa Wong, Vice President at FleishmanHillard, conducted a workshop on effective communication.


Upon the conclusion of the conference, the students said that they learned about different careers from the many leaders who spoke, as well as general advice on professionalism, pursuing your dreams, and how to contribute to U.S.-Japan relations in your own unique way. We thank Daiwa House and all the individuals and organizations that made this program possible!

Click here to see the print program, which includes the biographies of the students, speakers and supporters.