2019-20 Watanabe Scholars (Japanese Students)

In the 2019-20 program year, the scholarship supports American and Japanese students who are undertaking international study in either the United States or Japan.

Ⓐ indicates a previous recipient of the scholarship
** indicates a TOMODACHI alumnus
^ indicates a graduate student

Please join us in welcoming the Japanese cohort:

Chihiro BAN**
Home Institution: Kyushu University
Host Institution: San Jose State University


Chihiro is a senior majoring in Cultural Anthropology at Kyushu University who will be attending San Jose State University (SJSU). After enrolling in Kyushu University, she has participated in more than 10 international programs such as the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program, where she gained new and vivid insights, especially about gender issues. Since visiting Nepal for a different program, Chihiro has realized a person’s birthplace has a major impact on their life’s trajectory and that their environment can also be a source of suffering. This injustice has inspired a passion for studying Cultural-Anthropology. Upon returning to Japan, she has completed a joint-research project with international students to investigate discrimination against and among minorities. She is looking forward not only to studying her areas of interest, but also to spending time in a place that embraces diversity. She believes this year abroad brings her one step closer to her dream.

Home Institution: Tokyo Metropolitan Shoyo High School
Host Institution: Georgia State University


Mei is a high school graduate and will begin her pursuit of a college degree as a first year student at Perimeter College of Georgia State University in the 2019-2020 school year. Ever since she learned the importance of environmental conservation during an Outdoor Education class in Australia, Mei has been passionate about protecting the environment. She is interested in the cultural diversity of the United States as well as the vigorous debates about the environment that regularly take place here. She is looking forward to volunteering with environmental organizations during her time in the United States to see and learn how Americans contribute to protecting the environment. She is also excited to take part in university athletics such as basketball and volleyball. She plans to study Business and Environmental Studies at the university.With the financial assistance from the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, she is closer to achieving her goal of “working for environmental conservation”. Receiving this scholarship has helped alleviate the financial burden for her family and given her confidence and a sense of responsibility to succeed in studies in the United States.

Home Institution: Japan Women’s College
Host Institution: California State University, San Marcos


Born and raised in Japan, Nagisa wants to learn about and how communication styles differ according to countries and cultures while studying at California State University, San Marcos this year. She thinks it is important to see Japan from the outside because she thinks it is necessary to do that to know one’s country. She thinks after experiencing a year studying outside of Japan, that she will be able to appreciate Japan’s merits, as well as disadvantages. Nagisa is extremely grateful for the Watanabe Scholarship because she has a twin brother and her parents have been supporting both of their studies financially, while they are struggling to make ends meet. She is really excited to participate in many international activities and learn how to make friends with people from different countries, as well as taking classes.

Kanako KIMURA^
Home Institution: Toyo University
Host Institution: Tufts University


Kanako is a graduate student at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Boston. Born and raised in Tokyo, as an undergraduate Kanako attended Toyo University where she studied economics and international politics. She previously studied abroad in Arkansas in her undergraduate years. In 2015, she represented Japan as a student at the 160th Anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty and Amity held at John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Her connection to the United States is so strong that she is looking to DC for post-graduation career opportunities in international security. Motivated by perpetual curiosity and interest in international relations, she has backpacked to 20 countries around the world so far, engaging with people of multinational backgrounds. In addition to research, her academic concentrations are the Rise of China, International Security, and Strategic Studies. She believes receiving the Watanabe Scholarship will support her success in graduate school in a way that will benefit the U.S.–Japan relationship.

Hideyuki KOMAKI
Home Institution: Keio University
Host Institution: University of Washington


Hideyuki is a senior majoring in computer science at the University of Washington (UW). He used to study business administration at Keio University with a goal of developing concepts to improve the current “work style” in Japan with respect to organizational management. However, an exchange program between Keio and UW in 2017 changed his life and he ended up transferring to UW in 2019as a degree-seeking student. During the program, he had opportunities to study computer science. It made him realize that technologies can positively affect organizational behavior. So he set a new goal, to create new systems supporting an organization by using the power of software. After the program, he took a leave of absence from Keio and interned as a software engineer at LINE Corporation. Throughout the internship, he made a new product improving work efficiency that succeeded in changing LINE’s organizational culture. Hideyuki has decided to change his major to computer science and return to UW to finish his degree. As a second-time recipient of the Watanabe Scholarship, he is thankful for the initial support for study at UW that changed the course of his life. And now he is immensely grateful to the scholarship for funding that supports his successful transfer to UW and his continued focus on research and study.

Tomoaki KURITA
Home Institution: Tohoku University
Host Institution: University of Hawaii, Manoa


Tomoaki is a sophomore at Tohoku University, majoring in politics and international relations, especially security in East Asia. His goal is to work as a government officer or a scholar analyzing international affairs. He wants to contribute to the maintenance and security of the international order in East Asia, which is a fundamental to the U.S.-Japan relationship. During his study abroad program, he will seek to master theories of international relations and learn the view on the East Asian region from a U.S. perspective. He is interested in how the U.S. perceives and deals with the rise of China in East Asia. As Japan’s most important partner in the region, the United States is the best country for learning about the developed theories of international relations.This opportunity to study abroad will offer a precious experience and understanding that will serve him well in his future career.

Home Institution: Kobe University
Host Institution: University of Washington, Seattle


Mana is a senior majoring in Business at Kobe University, and will study at the University of Washington in Seattle. A summer internship at a multinational firm in her junior year sparked an interest in study abroad instead of job hunting. She chose the U.S. as a study abroad destination because she believes studying in the U.S will enhance her skills in communication, language, and knowledge. In addition, this experience will help her grow physically and mentally. Her studies include Marketing, Human Resource Management, and Strategic Management. She will make the most of her opportunities in the United States to build relationships with people from different geographic regions. After graduation, she wants to work in the field of human resources in order to maximize each employee’s performance in a diverse workplace or community. She is grateful to be selected as a Watanabe Scholar as it allows a focus on her studies without having to worry about the financial burden of study abroad. She is looking forward to joining the community, and meeting the other scholars as well as U.S.-Japan Council members.

Home Institution: Keio University
Host Institution: Brown University


Seri is a junior, Political Science major at Keio University. She will be at Brown University as an international exchange student for the 2019-2020 academic year. Due to her experiences of living in Paris, attending the SGLI Leadership Program in 2015 and being a committee member of HLAB in 2018, she has shown a strong concern for language education in Japan. To achieve one of her goals of being a decision-maker for language policy in the future, she hopes to learn how language can impact the political and social lives of people by studying linguistic anthropology, language education and international relations at Brown. She is very excited to meet the brightest minds from around the globe and engage in fruitful discussions with people from different backgrounds. She is forever thankful for this scholarship and the U.S.-Japan Council because it gives her an opportunity to connect with inspiring professionals as well as students both in the United States and Japan.

U.S. Institution: Bates College


Ayano is an incoming freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She had a nomadic childhood, frequently moving between Japan and the United States (5 times to be exact). Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship will provide a great opportunity and group of people to turn to even when things get hard. At Bates College, Ayano wants to deeply study what the American society has done to embrace diversity, especially in schools. She wants to many communities and schools build up programs to accommodate residents of diverse backgrounds. Ayano wants to learn and understand both perspectives of Japan and the U.S. at a much deeper level while studying at Bates College. In ten years, she aspires to become a role model for the next generation of Watanabe Scholars and the U.S.-Japan Council.

U.S. Institution: Berklee College of Music


Kinami is a singer-songwriter and performer from Okinawa, Japan. She studies music performance, business and production/engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Kinami truly believes in the power of healing through music and is confident in becoming a global musician and advocate of mental healing and strife toward World Peace. To her, receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship means that she has a chance to complete her final year of college and graduate from Berklee College of Music. Coming from a single-parent household, being a recipient of this Scholarship means everything to Kinami. She wants to express her deepest gratitude to Mr. Watanabe and the U.S.-Japan Council for this opportunity. As she takes on her final year, Kinami looks forward to making progress in her studies, connecting with global musicians and honing her skills in musicianship, sociability, and understanding of diverse cultures. Studying overseas has given her the chance to develop her individuality and awareness of the world. Kinami aspires to become Okinawa’s first global artist and is looking forward to her final year of study at Berklee College of Music.

Home Institution: Kyoto University
Host Institution:University of California, Berkeley


Kazuyo is a doctoral student in Archaeology at Kyoto University and will study for a year at University of California, Berkeley as a visiting student. Since she began dreaming about studying abroad, financial concerns have preoccupied her mind. She worked hard to manage her expenses during her undergraduate and graduate years. Thanks to the Watanabe scholarship, her financial burden has greatly eased. The experience of studying in the United States will definitely benefit her career. During her stay in the U.S., she hopes to learn anthropological theories and practical museology from an American perspective. In her dissertation, she focuses on the interaction between humans and the environment during the Neolithic era through basketry. After returning to Japan, she aspires to be an archaeology researcher and promote the academic interaction between the United States and Japan.

Home Institution: Temple University, Japan Campus
Host Institution: Temple University


Hina is a sophomore at Temple University Japan where she studies economics and minors in business. Since beginning at Temple University Japan in 2017, she has mainly focused on her field of study, but has keenly felt the need to cultivate international perspectives. Although economics can explain some behavior, how individuals make decisions is different depending on their backgrounds. Therefore, Hina is looking forward to learning through discussion or listening to others’ opinion in a more international environment. Her dream is to work at a trading company, so she expects to improve communication skills in additional to gaining international perspectives in economics during this study abroad. Since this will be her first time to stay outside of Japan for such a long period of time, Hina is looking forward to communicating with people from different cultures more than ever before. And she believes this experience will allow her to broaden her horizons and will be advantageous for her future success.

Ayano SATO**
Home Institution: University of Tokyo
Host Institution:Columbia University


Ayano Sato graduated from the University of Tokyo with a Master of Arts degree in International Relations. She was also an alumnus of the Building the TOMODACHI Generation program, a two-week international study program in Washington, D.C. After graduation, she joined the New National Theatre Tokyo, which is the sole national theater in Japan dedicated to producing contemporary performing arts of opera, ballet, dance and drama. Having worked in general affairs, policy planning and opera production as a senior production administrator, she has contributed to the success of several productions. Ayano is passionate about building a strong partnership between the United States and Japan through her career and aims to develop fundraising skills and to execute arts education programs. She is heartily grateful to the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship Program and the U.S.-Japan Council for supporting her graduate program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York.

Home Institution: Tokyo International University
Host Institution: Maryville University


Hiromichi is a junior at Tokyo International University majoring in English Communication. Being a leader in an internship program in TIU changed Hiromichi, inspiring him to challenge himself in new things which is one of the reasons why he decided to apply for a one-year study abroad program. He thinks it is valuable to study in the U.S.A., where he hopes to find a job as a Japanese teacher. Ever since his first visit to the States two years ago, he couldn’t stop imagining having a life there in the future. He appreciates receiving this scholarship to support the experience of living like a local in the U.S. and to expand his understanding of American culture. He is planning to study English literature at Maryville College and hopes to improve his language skills as close to native English speakers as possible. Without this scholarship, the road to his goal would be all the more difficult to achieve and he doesn’t want to let down the people who supported him through his journey.

Home Institution: Meiji University
Host Institution: University of Nevada, Reno


Aoi has a dream to become an engineer who can create universal places or spaces that bring happiness into everyone’s heart. She believes it can be achieved with software, hardware and entertainment skills. She is majoring in biological informatics at Meiji University. She is working to develop a system of clustering, a program of classifying data that can be used to specify causes of diseases and to develop new medicines. In a graduate school, she focuses on studying software. She is planning to major both in mechanical engineering to learn how to create things using her imagination and theatrical arts to learn how to design things effectively through human psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to her studies, the entertainment business has also become of interest to her due to her part-time job as a cast member at Tokyo Disney Resort. She is also considering work in the global entertainment business. She would like to utilize the experiences she has gained at her workplace and the technology she is about to learn while aboard to bring her closer to her achieving her dreams.

Home Institution: Waseda University
Host Institution: University of Mississippi


Yosuke is from Osaka and a sophomore in the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University. He is an exchange student at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). He is extremely interested in sport business, ever since he played American football on his college team. He had wondered why Japanese college sports are not as popular compared to the United States. He wants to liven up the Japanese economy with respect to sports. Since there are few opportunities to study sports business in Japan, studying abroad in the U.S where the sports industry is dominant will give him a great opportunity to deepen his studies. This scholarship helps him and his family financially and he greatly appreciates Mr. Watanabe and the U.S.-Japan Council for making studying abroad possible. He wants to cultivate conversation skills and flexible thinking by communicating with people who have completely different backgrounds from him. He thinks that meeting other scholars and sharing ideas and perspectives with them will be valuable for a lifetime.

Home Institution:Keio University
Host Institution:The College of William and Mary


Keito is a junior majoring in Economics at Keio University. He will study American Economics at the College of William and Mary beginning Fall 2019. He is excited to learn and deepen his knowledge of American Economics since he has already studied Japanese and European Economics at Keio. There are two reasons why he chose to study in the United States. First, the U.S. is a global leader, so he is eager to study various topics from an American perspective. Second, the United States was the first foreign country he visited. He went to Salem, Oregon as a representative of the city where he lived. This first hand encounter with American culture was shocking to his fifteen-year-old self and it totally changed his world. As a result, he wanted to return to the U.S.as a college student. He is so grateful to the Watanabe Scholarship for the financial support and he is ready to make his dream come true.

Home Institution: Waseda University
Host Institution: University of California, Davis


Miyako is a sophomore at Waseda University, majoring in Applied Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering. She has been interested in aerospace engineering since she got on an airplane for the first time in junior high school. She enjoys the activities of the aeronautics and space associations at Waseda. As a member of a rocket project, she made a small rover that moves toward a goal of afield via GPS, sensors and camera. While studying at the University of California, Davis, she wants to learn about mechanics and expects to gain knowledge about mechanics software and hardware. In the future, she wants to work with people from all over the world to contribute to society in the field of space exploration. Without the support of the Watanabe Scholarship, it would be difficult for her to study in the States.

U.S. Institution: Stanford University


Hiroshi is a graduate student at Stanford University (degrees: Master of Laws/ Master of Business Administration). He was working as a business lawyer in Japan before starting graduate school. Through this experience, he has encountered numerous obstacles and inefficiencies in the legal industry. This eventually inspired him to reform the industry with the power of “Legal Tech” so that legal professionals can maximize their performance, thereby enabling them to fully contribute to society. Thanks to the generous support of the Watanabe Scholarship, he will be able to continue studying at Stanford Law and the Graduate School of Business. Throughout his study at Stanford, he will be focusing on building a strong rapport with real-world practitioners in the relevant fields through out Silicon Valley, deepening his expertise on legal tech and learning to conceive a feasible, down-to-earth strategy to implement new innovation in the legal industry.

Home Institution: Kyushu University
Host Institution: San Jose State University


Taiki is a first-year master’s student at Kyushu University, majoring in aerospace engineering, and will study abroad for the fall 2019 semester as an exchange student at San Jose State University. He has a dream of flying freely in the sky. In his childhood, he tried jumping from the second floor of his apartment with toy wings on his back. Fortunately, his mother found out stopped him, but he thought he could really fly. When he became a university student, he majored in aerospace engineering. He studied fluid and flight dynamics. In the future he would like to lead the Japanese aviation industry as a top engineer. Therefore, he will study abroad at San Jose State University to take lectures covering topics not available in Japan, such as the operation and maintenance of airplanes and aviation law. This will bring him one step closer to the big dream of leading the Japanese aviation industry. He is grateful to the Watanabe Scholarship for giving him such an opportunity.