Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies – Interview with Glen S. Fukushima

On January 19, the U.S.-Japan Council held its third installment of the “Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies” series with an interview of Glen S. Fukushima, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Member of the USJC Board of Councilors. Attendees tuned in for this virtual event, in which Mr. Fukushima shared stories about his childhood, career and experiences as a Japanese American. 

Mr. Fukushima was a senior business executive based in Asia from 1990 to 2012, representing many major multinational corporations. He has extensive experience working with the U.S. government, having served two terms as President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan from 1998 to 1999 and Vice President from 1993 to 1997.  Mr. Fukushima has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1993 and a board member of Foreign Policy for America until 2020.

In addition to interests in business and government, Mr. Fukushima serves on the board of several art and music-related organizations. Among his many accomplishments, he received the Excellence 2000 Award from the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1999, the Alumni Hall of Fame Award from Stanford University in 2002, and the Person of the Year Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society in 2008. Keio University awarded him an Honorary Alumnus status in 2012 and LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics) awarded him its Leadership Award in 2014. Mr. Fukushima is also listed in Who’s Who in America.

Mr. Fukushima detailed his childhood and school experiences, noting that moving to different schools and areas taught him to be “flexible and adaptable,” “curious,” and to “seek new challenges.” 

As a Japanese American working in Japan, Mr. Fukushima identified both benefits and challenges he faced throughout his career. He also offered insightful tips for Americans who want to do business in Japan, suggesting that “language (skills), professional expertise, and being flexible” are invaluable. 

Mr. Fukushima shared his thoughts on the current state of U.S.-Japan relations, and the role of USJC. As a founding member, he mentioned that the name “U.S.-Japan Council” was his suggestion upon the organization’s conception.

The event was moderated by Council Leaders Dianne Fukami (JALD ’09) and Debra Nakatomi (JALD ’09), who together co-produced a TV documentary “An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy,” on the life and career of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors). Ms. Fukami and Ms. Nakatomi are teaming up again to direct this “Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies” series. The interview with Mr. Fukushima is available to watch online here. It followed the series’ debut at the Public Symposium in November, which featured USJC’s Founding Board Chair Thomas Iino and a December webinar which featured former USJC Board Member and celebrated philanthropist Atsuko Toko Fish. Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming episodes. 

-Kazuma Parkinson
USJC Intern