2018 USJC Annual Conference

(L-R) Ryuta Ibaragi (Governor of Okayama Prefecture), Irene Hirano Inouye (USJC President), Yoshihiro Hayasaka (Member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly), Toshiko Kudo (TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America (2016) and TOMODACHI ADA25 Lead On! Program (2016) Alumna), and Hidehiko Yuzaki (Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture) 

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Annual Conference! 

The 2018 Annual Conference, held in Tokyo, Japan from November 8 to 9, 2018, was the ninth USJC Annual Conference.‡ The theme was “Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow.”


The U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference is a forward-thinking public event that takes place each fall. Leading professionals and members of the U.S.-Japan community convene to explore cutting-edge topics that provide opportunities for future growth and cooperation between the United States and Japan.

In 2018, USJC & USJC (Japan) returned to Tokyo to discuss how the United States and Japan can build a sustainable future together, and strengthen philanthropy in Japan. The Conference explored ways to collaborate towards mutual goals like supporting women leaders, and face common challenges like aging populations and security issues in Asia.

It also discussed regional ties among various cities in both countries, the impact the midterm elections has in the United States, as well as how to create lasting partnerships and benefit communities on both sides of the Pacific.

There was additional programming on November 7, including the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program, the Philanthropy Leadership Round Table and TOMODACHI workshops.


Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (center) with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye (left) and Vice-Chair of the USJC Board of Directors Tomoko Kizawa (right)

TOKYO – The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), together with the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), held its ninth Annual Conference from November 8 to 9 in Tokyo, Japan. (USJC is a nonprofit educational organization striving to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations.) More than 700 leaders from Japan and the United States attended the conference, which was themed “Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow.” Issues they discussed included how to further develop philanthropy and the NPO sector in both countries, how to create a more sustainable future for all, as well as how to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship regardless of political trends. The Conference also highlighted women and millennial leaders, as well as those who lead in diverse areas such as sports and technology.

The conference explored the many ways Japanese and American leaders can ensure a long, sustainable future for the United States and Japan. As the two Distinguished Speakers, Yuriko Koike (Governor of Tokyo) spoke about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Kanetsugu Mike (President & CEO of MUFG Bank, Ltd.) spoke about the importance of innovation for both countries to continue to thrive. Peter Fitzgerald (President, Google Japan G.K.) and Dr. John Maeda (Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic) were among the leaders discussing technology from the angles of design thinking and diversity. Peter Landers (Tokyo Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal), Dr. Yoichi Funabashi (Co-founder and Chairman, Asia Pacific Initiative, and Former Editor-in-Chief, The Asahi Shimbun) and Dr. Takako Hikotani (Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University) discussed the U.S. midterm elections that took place just a few days prior, and how U.S.-Japan relations will remain solid regardless of domestic politics. Toshio Arima (Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Network Japan) and Hiroko Kuniya (Journalist and Goodwill Ambassador for Japan, UN Food and Agriculture Organization) discussed how the two countries can collaborate to fulfill Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a global level.

Kabuki Actor Ebizo Ichikawa gave a special performance

Others focused on the importance of fostering the next generation of leaders who continue to strengthen our bilateral relations. 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. U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty congratulated TOMODACHI alumni at a reception dedicated to their continued success. Millennial Japanese American leaders who are alumni of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program discussed how diversity and inclusion will continue to play a crucial role in both countries.

At the same time, speakers recognized that success is only possible because of the groundbreaking work of current and past leaders. A video message from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the efforts of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

A session on “Gannenmono,” the first group of Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii 150 years ago, showed how the solid ties between Hawaii and Japan is based on personal relationships built within the community. Ebizo Ichikawa, Kabuki Actor, gave a special performance during the TOMODACHI Reception to showcase the Japanese traditional art to a global audience.

Secretary Mineta (right) with Dianne Fukami, President, Bridge Media and Director/Co-Producer, Mineta Legacy Project (left) and Debra Nakatomi, President, Nakatomi & Associates and Co-Producer, Mineta Legacy Project (center)

The Japan Film Premiere of An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy celebrated the life and career of Secretary Mineta (President & CEO, Mineta & Associates, LLC; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce) as a pioneering Japanese American politician committed to justice and bipartisanship.

Other panel discussions, workshops and interactive fora centered on topics such as sustainable business practices, women in leadership, and efforts to work with aging populations. Japanese prefectural governors Ryuta Ibaragi (Governor of Okayama Prefecture), Dr. Heita Kawakatsu (Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture) and Hidehiko Yuzaki (Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture) discussed regional collaboration through activities like USJC’s Governors’ Circle initiative, and TED-style talks by various industry leaders also analyzed U.S.-Japan relations through their respective fields.

Conference Print Program

To see the print program of the Conference, which includes the schedule and the bios of speakers, click here.



More videos from the Conference are available here

Distinguished Speakers

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo
To see the video of Governor Koike’s speech, click here. Click here to read the summary.
Kanetsugu Mike, President & CEO, MUFG Bank, Ltd.
To see the video of Mr. Mike’s speech, click here. Click here to read the summary.

Featuring a special kabuki performance by:

Kabuki Actor Ebizo Ichikawa

歌舞伎俳優 市川海老蔵

Other Highlighted Speakers

Other Speakers included:

  • Chris DeGroot, Vice President – International Sales, American Airlines
  • Peter Fitzgerald, President, Google Japan G.K.
  • Todd Guild, Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company (Tokyo Office)
  • Tomoko Hasegawa, Director, SDGs Promotion Bureau, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)
  • Takako Hikotani, Ph.D.,Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University
  • Shoichiro Ichitani, Vice Chairman, Prudential Life Insurance Company, Ltd.
  • Yuuko Iizuka, General Manager, CSR Department, Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd.
  • Katsuji Imata, Vice Chair, Japan NPO Center 
  • Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
  • Nanako Kudo, Executive Director, Japan Social Impact Investment Foundation
  • Hiroko Kuniya, Journalist; Goodwill Ambassador for Japan, UN Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Mari Kuraishi, Co-Founder and President, GlobalGiving
  • Peter Landers, Tokyo Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • John Maeda, Ph.D., Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic
  • Mana Nakagawa, Strategy & Operations Lead, Diversity & Inclusion, Facebook
  • Sachin N. Shah, Chairman, President and CEO, MetLife Insurance K.K.; President, The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Emi Takemura, Fellow, Mistletoe Inc.; Co-founder, FutureEdu Tokyo; Co-founder/Advisor, Peatix Inc.
  • Yuka Tanimoto, Deputy Editor-in-Chief & Event Promotion Section Chief Producer, Forbes JAPAN

Conference Topics 

New Trends in Philanthropy
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

SDGs and Multisectoral Partnerships
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Business Strategy and Market Innovation
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Governors Seeking to Revitalize Local Economies
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Solving Problems with AI for Everyone
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

The Future of Innovation and Design Thinking
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Political Trends and Security Implications
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Pioneering Women and Breaking Barriers
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

The TOMODACHI Generation: Next Generation Leaders Shaping our Future
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Gannenmono Plenary Feature: Celebrating the 150-Year Legacy
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

Social Innovation and Changemakers
Click here to read the summary, which includes links to videos of the presentations.

Japan’s NPO Sector Today
Click here to read the summary.

Sustainable Business Practices and Strategies
Click here to read the summary.

Aging Populations: Developing Solutions 
Click here to read the summary.

ELP/U40 Plenary Feature – Dare to be Different: Leading a More Diverse Future
Click here to see the video. Click here to read the summary.

[Members Day] A Conversation with Masanori Murakami
Click here to see the video. 

Japan Premiere of ‘An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy’

The documentary film An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy chronicles the life and career of Secretary Norman Mineta (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors), an Asian American pioneer who rose to the highest levels of public service.

The Japan premiere of An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy, presented by the Mineta Legacy Project, the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the U.S.-Japan Council, was held on November 9. This free event was open to the public and included the film screening, a panel discussion with Secretary Norman Mineta and filmmakers (and Council Leaders) Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi, and a light reception. The hosts surprised Secretary Mineta by celebrating his upcoming birthday as well.

Click here to see more photos from the premiere event.

To see the video of the discussion with Secretary Mineta, click here. Click here to read the summary of the discussion.


The 2018 Annual Conference was held at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo.







Advantage Partners

Aoyama Zaisan Networks Co., Ltd.

Anonymous Donor

Anonymous Donor

John and Suzanne Basalla

First Rate, Inc.

Dr. Hiroyuki and Mrs. Mikiko Fujita, Quality Electrodynamics

Fujitsu Limited

Todd and Yasuko Guild

Higa Industries Co., Ltd.

Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation

Chikatomo Kenneth Hodo

Mr. Thomas Iino

Industrial Growth Platform, Inc.

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.


JC Comsa Corporation

JPMorgan Chase




Konica Minolta, Inc.

Anonymous Donor

KPMG Japan

KTA Super Stores

Lawson, Inc.

Mr. and Mrs. Colbert and Gail Matsumoto

Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.

More Building Co., Ltd.

Satoru and Hiroko Murase

David and Tina Nishida

ORIX Corporation USA

Mr. Henry Ota

Palo Alto Networks K.K.

Ricoh Company, Ltd.


Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd.


Sun Noodle

The Okada Family Foundation


TMI Associates

Tokio Marine America

Toyo Susan Kaisha, Ltd.

Vinson & Elkins

Mr. Roy Yamaguchi