U.S. And Japan Leaders Discuss Diversity of Leadership and Economic Ties at U.S.-Japan Council’s Eighth Annual Conference


Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Commerce (center), and Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States (right), share a laugh with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye


WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), a nonprofit educational organization striving to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations, held its eighth Annual Conference from November 13 to 14 in Washington, DC. More than 700 leaders from Japan and the United States attended the conference, which was themed “Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together.” Issues they discussed included how to continue to empower the many leaders in the U.S.-Japan arena, including Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans, millennials, and women; and strengthening economic ties between the United States and Japan.

Top corporate and government leaders from both countries—Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Nobuchika Mori, Commissioner, Financial Services Agency, Government of Japan; Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Kazuhiko Toyama, Managing Partner, Industrial Growth Platform, Inc.; and Masayoshi Yoshino, Minister for Reconstruction, Government of Japan—delivered keynote speeches, discussing further opportunities for collaboration between the United States and Japan, especially in terms of economic relations. Matthew Goodman, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy & Senior Adviser for Asian Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States; Tom Schieffer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and CEO of Envoy International; and Haruno Yoshida, Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors at Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) discussed trade relations as well as the important role states, prefectures, corporations and communities have in fostering regional partnerships between the two countries. Think tank experts, including Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia & Japan Chair at CSIS, analyzed current political issues between the United States and Japan in the areas of security and economics.

The Conference also celebrated the diversity of U.S.-Japan leaders in many ways. Asian American state legislators from six states shared their personal and political journeys, including their visit to Japan on the Asian American Leadership Delegation Program and their careers in law and medicine. In another panel discussion, seven distinguished women, including Kathy Matsui, Vice-Chair, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd., shared their experiences as female leaders serving on the boards of global companies and organizations. An annual discussion led by Jan Yanehiro, President, Jan Yanehiro, Inc., featured Japanese American leaders from a wide range of industries: Sarah LaFleur, CEO of MM.LaFleur, a fashion e-tailer for busy professional women; Judy Sakaki, the first Japanese American woman president of a four-year university (Sonoma State University); Adam Yamaguchi, the world-traveling Executive Producer and Correspondent of CBS News; and Roy Yamaguchi (no relation to Adam), Chef and Restaurateur of Roy’s Restaurants.



 (L-R) Mr. Adam Yamaguchi, Ms. Yanehiro, Dr. Sakaki, Ms. LaFleur, Mr. Roy Yamaguchi


The Conference also featured several next-generation leaders. Students who participated in exchange programs of the TOMODACHI Initiative—a public-private partnership led by USJC and the U.S. Embassy, with strong support by the Government of Japan—shared how their time abroad transformed their lives. Japanese American millennial leaders who are alumni of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program shared testimonials of their success in business, academia, politics and the community, and detailed the instrumental role Japanese American values like ikigai (reason for being) and kansha (gratitude) have played along the way. In another panel discussion, speakers including Charles F. Bolden, Jr., President of the Bolden Consulting Group and the 12th NASA Administrator, shared their insight on skills that future leaders need to thrive in a global environment.


Japanese American millennial leaders: (L-R) Mr. Craig Ishii, Executive Director, Kizuna; Mr. Joshua Morey, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Vice President, The J. Morey Company, Inc.; Ms. Ellen Kamei, District Director, California State Assembly; and Dr. Christine Kitano, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Literature, Ithaca College


Other panel discussions, workshops and interactive fora centered on topics such as the importance and rewards of working in public service; innovation hubs in Silicon Valley, Tokyo and Boston; and discussions on the latest developments in energy, healthcare and education. TED-style talks by various industry leaders also analyzed U.S.-Japan relations through fields like medicine and public diplomacy.

For a full schedule of the Conference, please see: http://www.usjapancouncil.org/2017_us_japan_council_annual_conference
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About the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC)
The U.S.-Japan Council is a Japanese American-led organization fully dedicated to strengthening ties between the United States and Japan in a global context. By promoting people-to-people relationships through its innovative programs in networking and leadership, the Council serves as a catalyst to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations. The Council was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington, DC with staff in California, Hawaii and Tokyo. In 2012, the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was created to support the administration of the TOMODACHI Initiative, and in 2013, it became a Public Interest Corporation (Koeki Zaidan Hojin). The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) maintains an office in Tokyo, Japan. http://www.usjapancouncil.org/


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Shiori Okazaki
Director of Communications