The U.S.-Japan Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) identifies, cultivates, and empowers a new generation of Japanese American leaders. Emerging Leaders participate in leadership education, design and implement original USJC programming, and establish powerful professional connections and lifelong personal friendships. A new cohort aged 24-35 is selected annually to attend the Annual Conference, become USJC Associates, and join program alumni in bridging the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship. By providing access to members and education on relevant topics, the program aims to motivate participants to promote strong and positive U.S.-Japan relations in their personal and professional lives.

ELPs are unified in their passion and commitment to build community and strengthen relationships, both domestically and across the Pacific. That diversity of talent and unity of purpose is a great strength and a source of inspiration and energy.


The Emerging Leaders Program is currently in its twelfth year. Each class has become engaged with and made meaningful contributions to USJC and the ELP community. In 2021, the U.S.-Japan Council will once again host a series of flagship virtual events in lieu of a traditional in-person conference. Held for the first time in 2020 due to the worldwide pandemic, our Signature Series provides insights and exclusive content to stakeholders and supporters. We will select a new cohort of Emerging Leaders to join the USJC network and participate in these events. The delegates will also participate in programming designed specifically for them, including a virtual leadership training curriculum which will run through summer 2022. 

Selected applicants will become U.S.-Japan Council Associates with the first year’s membership dues waived (membership is normally by invitation and nomination).

Applications are closed. Many thanks to those who applied.

Past ELP participants have created a vibrant alumni network deeply engaged with the work of the Council.


USJC thanks the following individuals for their dedication and support to the ELP program:

David Kenji Chang
Royanne Doi
Tracey Doi
James Higa
Yosuke Honjo
Craig Ishii
John Kobara
Dayne Kono
Kaz Maniwa
Colbert Matsumoto
Joshua Morey
Jill Nishi
Stephanie Nitahara
Andrew Ogawa
Yoko Otani
Niki Robins
Curtiss Rooks
Steve Sakanashi
Dennis Sugino
Dennis Teranishi
Rona Tison
Tyler Tokioka
Paul Yonamine

With special acknowledgement to Founding Corporate Sponsor:

And appreciation to other key funding organizations:

USJC thanks all its corporate and individuals who sponsor the Council and make programming such as ELP possible.

The U.S.-Japan Council’s Emerging Leaders Program is supported by the generous sponsorship of companies, foundations and individuals. If you would like to make a donation to the program, please contact Laura Abbot at [email protected] or (202) 223-6842.

We also thank the many generous donors who have contributed to USJC’s U40 Summit and other ELP alumni activities.


Photos from prior classes are available here:


“ELP has been a community I didn’t know was missing in my life! Thank you for this life-changing experience. I look forward to staying engaged with USJC for many, many years to come.”

~Meredith Maimoni, ELP 2020

“ELP provides the space to build meaningful relationships with the ‘next generation’ of thought leaders, decision makers and movers and shakers. The ELP program is unique in that it offers the platform to challenge individuals to grow in their leadership and engage with prominent, distinguished leaders in U.S.-Japan relations.”

~Amy Watanabe, ELP 2018

“The USJC Emerging Leaders Program was a truly unforgettable experience and it opened a door to an entire network that I never thought existed. This is one of the most memorable experiences I will carry with me throughout my life.”

~Danielle Higa, ELP 2017