On June 15, Minister Takuya Sasayama, Minister and Head of Chancery at the Embassy of Japan, held an informal discussion with USJC members in the Washington, DC region.
Minister Sasayama arrived in Washington in February to assume responsibilities that include maintaining relations with the local Japanese American community. He was previously posted in South Korea, Malaysia and Mexico in between his years in Tokyo, working on free trade agreements and multilateral meetings like APEC and ASEAN.
The interactive discussion addressed how Japanese Americans and the Japanese government can collaborate in the DC region. Members expressed their wish to have more Japanese supermarkets and restaurants, and asked that the Embassy support such businesses. They also noted that a Nikkei community center would be ideal because the Japanese and Japanese American community is dispersed throughout DC, Virginia and Maryland, making it difficult for people to meet one another easily. Additionally, this limits the ability for the Japanese American community to conduct businesses across state borders, as each state and the District has its own regulations.
Members drew upon their varied experience, with professions ranging from the U.S. government, non-profit organizations and private businesses, to provide insightful comments about the social scene in DC. They discussed opportunities to tap into underexplored communities, such as U.S. military personnel who were previously stationed in Japan. Members also noted the importance of the Japanese American narrative in light of recent events, and how, based on their experiences during World War II, they could help defend Muslims against prejudice.
Other topics included the Japanese American Leadership Delegation program, which is sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the U.S.-Japan military alliance.