Six state-elected legislators from diverse Asian American backgrounds and regions recently traveled to Japan as part of the 2019 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) program. From December 7 to 14, the delegates traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Tottori. They exchanged ideas with Japanese political and government leaders, business executives, nonprofit leaders and academics, creating networks that can mutually benefit the U.S.-Japan relationship.
AALD is in its sixth year, and the 2019 Delegation included the following six delegates.
- State Representative Chris Chyung, Indiana House of Representatives
- State Representative Nima Kulkarni, Kentucky House of Representatives
- State Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, Nevada State Assembly
- State Representative My-Linh Thai, Washington House of Representatives
- State Representative Kyle Yamashita, Hawaii House of Representatives
- State Representative Mike Yin, Wyoming House of Representatives
Government leaders the legislators met included Chargé d’Affaires Joseph M. Young and Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai. They also met with members of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly, members of the Japanese Diet and Ministry of Foreign Affairs North American Director General Kazuhiro Suzuki.
Business leaders the delegates met included representatives of Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation), Daikin and Kansai Keizai Doyukai. Delegates also met with NHK journalist Aiko Doden, Sasakawa Peace Foundation Chairman Nobuo Tanaka, security and diplomacy scholar Narushige Michishita and SPF’s America Monitor researchers, who are experts in American politics in Japan.
In Tottori, the legislators visited Ooe Valley Stay, a closed elementary school revived as a hotel; Work Corpo, which provides a safe working environment to people with disabilities in order to support their economic independence; and the Tottori Prefectural Library, which was inspired by libraries in the U.S. and has supported the community for decades. They also participated in a Q&A session with students at Seisho Kaichi Junior and Senior High School, answering questions about the U.S.-Japan alliance, the delegates’ views of Japan and more.
The legislators also spoke at a symposium in Tokyo titled: “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators in 2019.” This event was co-hosted by USJC and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. The delegates discussed their personal and political journeys in the United States, including their careers before becoming politicians. They also spoke of the important role of Asian American politicians, particularly in light of current events. Nobuko Sasae, President of Nobuko Forum Japan, moderated this discussion.
The delegates also attended the ALLI (Advanced Long-term Leadership Initiative) Indo-Pacific Summit in Tokyo, where 43 youth from over 16 countries gathered to discuss common issues and goals of their respective countries.
AALD is co-organized by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and USJC, in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators (NAPACSL). For more information on the program and full biographies of the delegates, click here. To see photos from the trip, click here.