The U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference is a yearly event that brings together regional, national and international leaders from government, business, academia and nonprofit sectors to discuss the current status and continuous future of the U.S.-Japan collaboration.

The 2019 Annual Conference was held at Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA from November 4 to 5, 2019 with the theme “Bold Ideas, Bolder Leadership: The Next Stage of U.S.-Japan Relations.” 


The U.S.-Japan Council (U.S. & Japan), was pleased to present the 2019 USJC Annual Conference, held from November 4 to 5 in Los Angeles, California. Under the theme “Bold Ideas, Bolder Leadership: The Next Stage of U.S.-Japan Relations,” we highlighted diverse leaders and leadership styles that transform bold ideas into reality and discussed forward-thinking ideas across several industries to showcase the potential for further U.S.-Japan collaboration.

As the 10th anniversary conference since the founding of USJC, this event also celebrated USJC’s accomplishments over the past decade in developing and connecting diverse leaders to create a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship. We also be launched the first national pilot program of the U.S.-Japan Council Leadership Initiative. These optional seminars provided hands-on skills training and professional development opportunities to conference attendees.


The U.S.-Japan Council, together with the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), brought around 650 individuals to its 2019 Annual Conference, held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles from November 4 to 5. This year’s theme, “Bold Ideas, Bolder Leadership: The Next Stage of U.S.-Japan Relations,” explored leadership and innovation within government and corporate spheres as well as female and next generation empowerment and Japanese American identity within the entertainment industry.

Plenary dialogue with Kazuo Hirai (left) and John Roos (right)

Large-scale global partnership between the United States and Japan through political and corporate sectors propelled discussions. Kazuo Hirai, Senior Advisor and former CEO of Sony, discussed with John Roos, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, how innovative leadership can cultivate international ties. Minister Kenichiro Mukai, head of Chancery at the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America, delivered remarks about the importance of exchanges in finding shared values between the two countries. David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, offered a video message on the importance of cultivating the U.S.-Japan relationship. An additional session on Indo-Pacific geopolitics and trade explored global security, alongside current opportunities and challenges for global cooperation.

The local relationship between Japan and California was also highlighted. Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis spoke to the strong Japanese American community within the state. A panel focusing on the rich history shared between Japan and Southern California was facilitated by KTLA anchor Frank Buckley and included LA County’s Economic Development Corporation CEO Bill Allen, Minister Takeshi Komoto of the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America, and Maria Salinas, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Japanese American Stars: (L-R) Jan Yanehiro (President, Jan Yanehiro Inc.), Bobby Webster, Koine Iwasaki, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani

Several speakers explored technology, science and innovation. Professor and CEO of the Future Today Institute Amy Webb presented on Japan’s role in the future of AI technology. Toyota Motor Corporation’s Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada gave remarks on future-driven innovation. A session on culinary diplomacy, hosted at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, explored the medicinal value of Japanese fermented foods, such as miso and soy sauce. Further breakout sessions focused on entrepreneurship, offering guidance for bringing innovative ideas into reality.

Japanese musician and actor MIYAVI performs at the conference reception

The conference embraced its Hollywood location by featuring Japanese and Japanese American leaders within the entertainment industry. A plenary session brought together young Japanese American athletic stars, including Bobby Webster, General Manager of the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors; dancer Koine Iwasaki; and champion ice dancer siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani to share their experiences in the spotlight. A breakout session brought a panel of Japanese American professionals in entertainment who spoke about their identities and the challenges they often face. The conference reception featured a special performance by Japanese musician, actor and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador MIYAVI.

The conference showcased young and accomplished alumni of USJC’s next generation-focused programs. Alumni of the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership led by USJC and the U.S. Embassy with strong support by the Government of Japan, and the Emerging Leaders Program, a leadership development program for young Japanese Americans, shared their personal stories of the lasting and life-changing impact of these programs. A new TOMODACHI program was also announced at the conference: the TOMODACHI-U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Leadership Program, which will give Japanese university students pursuing the field of sports management the opportunity to participate in a study tour in the United States.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye reflects on the future of the organization

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Council, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye reflected on its origins when a group of Japanese Americans came together to explore ways to deepen U.S.-Japan ties. She invited the audience to look forward to the next decade as USJC pursues future initiatives to continue bringing Japan and the United States closer together.

Conference Print Program

To see the print program of the Conference, which includes the schedule and the bios of speakers, click here. Further speakers are listed in an insert here.


More photos from the 2019 Annual Conference are available here.


Videos from the 2019 Annual Conference are available here.

Speakers Included:

John V. Roos

Geodesic Capital

Kazuo Hirai

Senior Advisor,
Sony Corporation

Amy Webb

Founder & CEO,
Future Today Institute

Maia & Alex Shibutani

Champion Ice

Bobby Webster

General Manager,
Toronto Raptors

Takeshi Uchiyamada

Chairman of the
Board of Directors,
Toyota Motor Corporation

Other Speakers Included:

  • Rob Bonta, Assemblymember (CA-18), California State Assembly
  • Frank Buckley, News Anchor, KTLA-TV
  • Irene Hirano Inouye, President, U.S.-Japan Council
  • Irene Kawanabe, Director, National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor, State of California
  • Fue Lee, Representative (MN-59A), Assistant Majority Leader, Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Ikuko Okubo, Program Officer, The Nippon Foundation
  • Curtiss Takada Rooks, Associate Professor, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, Loyola Marymount University
  • Jan Yanehiro, President, Jan Yanehiro, Inc.

Conference Topics Included:

  • Technology & Innovation
  • AI/Robot Services & Labor
  • Security & Trade
  • Public Service
  • Women’s & Next Generation Leadership
  • Culinary Diplomacy
  • Nikkei Identity
  • Asian Americans in Entertainment
  • …and more!

Schedule (Events listed in italics were open to the public)

Saturday, 11/2: 

  • Emerging Leaders Program & Alumni Training (by invitation)

Sunday, 11/3: 

  • USJC Members Day (members only); TOMODACHI Alumni Training (by invitation); Japanese American Leadership Delegation Reception (by invitation); Networking Dinners (optional)

Monday, 11/4: 

  • Public Symposium; Conference Reception; Sponsors Dinner (by invitation)

Tuesday, 11/5: 

  • Leadership Seminars (add’l fee); Business Networking Initiative Meeting (by invitation); Offsite Visits (optional)







Angeles Investment Advisors, LLC

Anonymous Donor

Anonymous Donor

Anonymous Donor

Aoyama Zaisan Networks Co., Ltd.

Big Island Candies

Cole Chemical & Distributing, Inc.

Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, Quality Electrodynamics


Fujitsu Limited

GCA Corporation

Higa Industries Co. Ltd.

Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Industrial Growth Platform

John and Suzanne Basalla

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.



Konica Minolta, Inc.

KPMG Japan

Mr. & Mrs. Colbert and Gail Matsumoto

Mitsui Chemicals America, Inc.

Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd.

Mr. Henry Ota

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas and Barbara Iino

Ms. Yoko Otani and Dr. Shunichi Homma

Mr. Lance Stuart


Palo Alto Networks K.K.

Ricoh Company, Ltd.

Rita Brogan, Brogan LLC

Sanrio, Inc.


Sompo International Insurance


The J. Morey Company

Tokio Marine America

Toyo Susan Kaisha, Ltd.

Todd and Yasuko Guild

ValueAct Capital

Yamaha Corporation