HONOLULU (October 10, 2014) – Top U.S. and Japanese leaders convened in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 10th to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship through international collaboration. The 2014 U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) Annual Conference, themed “U.S.-Japan Connections: Contributing to Growth, Security and Sustainability,” also discussed Hawaii’s historical, cultural and strategic significance in the Asia Pacific and the importance of the U.S.-Japan partnership.
Three Keynote Speakers from the public and private sectors of both countries spoke at the Conference. Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, United States Pacific Fleet, discussed the importance of people and relationships in the U.S.-Japan alliance. “Diversity is essential to the success of the America's military and our rebalance to the Pacific,” he said. “We are, in fact, stronger together. Our strength lies in our people, our history service across generations, our relationships that transcend borders and boundaries, our very diversity, and the committed support of organizations like the U.S.-Japan Council.”
Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President & CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, discussed the important relationship between the United States and Japan, especially in the realm of security. “The ties between our nations are enduring, and today those ties are more important than ever before,” she said. “We share a steadfast commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Yet today those values are under assault in many parts of the world. Together we can protect our nations and be a beacon of strength and stability for the world.”
Masami Iijima, President & CEO, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., spoke about U.S.-Japan business ties and his company’s role in the shale revolution. “We want to contribute to the development of new businesses arising in the U.S., and help provide a stable energy source for Asia and Japan,” he said. He also expressed his wish “to continue to support the development of the next generation of Japanese and U.S. citizens,” citing the TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program, a program for young professionals that is funded by Mitsui & Co. and organized by USJC and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Other prominent individuals who participated in the Conference included actor George Takei, who spoke on a panel of Japanese Americans who are pioneers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Ambassador of Japan to United States Kenichiro Sasae also sent in congratulatory messages to USJC.
One of the highlights of the Conference was a “Culinary Festival” that brought together twelve premier chefs from Hawaii and Japan—including Roy Yamaguchi, Chef & Founder of Roy’s—to collaborate with one another. This event celebrated USJC’s new culinary diplomacy initiative, which aims to promote cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through sharing meals.
This is the first time USJC held its Annual Conference in Hawaii. USJC has strong ties to the Aloha state, including the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, one of the co-founders of the U.S.-Japan Council.
The U.S.-Japan Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization that contributes to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations by bringing together diverse leadership, engaging stakeholders and exploring issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific. By promoting people-to-people relationships, the Japanese American-led organization cultivates an international network, and collaborates with other organizations and institutions to develop programs that allow leaders to engage with their counterparts in the United States and Japan.