U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (August 16th, 2018)

ELP Alumni Host Japanese Heritage Day in Honor of Shohei Ohtani

Many thanks to Board Member (and ELP ’15) David Kenji Chang for the following article, and to Associate (and ELP ’14) Kira Teshima for providing the photos!

A boy admires his two-way Shohei Ohtani bobblehead (photo by Wyatt Conlon)

On August 12, alumni of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) hosted a special Japanese Heritage Day at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California as rookie phenom Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels took on the Oakland Athletics.

USJC members with the jumbotron in the background (photo by Wyatt Conlon)

The event, a fundraiser in support of ELP alumni activities, sold over 1,200 tickets. Among those in attendance were Council Leaders, Associates and sponsors who traveled from as far as New York, Washington, DC, Hawaii and Japan to support the event.

Taiko performance (photo by Wyatt Conlon)

Guests braved the mid-day heat to receive a limited edition Ohtani bobblehead and enjoyed a lively performance by Koshin Taiko. USJC board members and ELP sponsors joined President Irene Hirano Inouye on the field to present the Angels Foundation with a donation during a special pre-game ceremony. The first pitch was then thrown on behalf of the ELP alumni by a local young cancer survivor selected through the My Wishlist Foundation. During pre-game activities, the U.S.-Japan Council name was emblazoned on screens throughout the stadium.

ELP alumni, including Josh Morey (back row, third from right), organized Japanese Heritage Day (photo by Wyatt Conlon)
Guests who gathered for the special occasion included Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Chiba (seventh from right), Mrs. Chiba (to the right of CG Chiba), and four Japanese parliamentarians who were in town for Nisei Week (Karen Makishima, third from left; Keisuke Suzuki, fourth from left; Seiji Kihara, fifth from left and Masaaki Taira, center)

Click here to see more photos.

Recent Events

USJC Chair Discusses Women’s Leadership in Honolulu

Phyllis Campbell (center) and Susan Eichor (second from right). Attendees included Kimberly Haruki (left) and Lynn Miyahira Krupa (second from left).

On July 31, USJC members gathered for a Regional Women in Leadership “Talk Story” event in Honolulu. The featured speaker was USJC Chair Phyllis Campbell, who is the Chair of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Pacific Northwest, and is usually based in Seattle. Board Member Susan Eichor moderated the discussion.

Associates Lynn Miyahira Krupa (ELP ’14) and Kimberly Haruki (ELP ’17) were two of the many members who attended, and they both gushed about Ms. Campbell’s personal story and inspiring message as a leader. Lynn quoted her words, “Get ready. Be ready. You never know when the next opportunity is coming your way,” and marveled at how approachable she is. Kimberly said that within Ms. Campbell’s talk of diversity, leadership and workplace culture, her words of “Be willing to believe in yourself. Take risks.” were especially empowering.



TOMODACHI Alumni Provide On-the-Ground Support in Kurashiki

In a home damaged by the floods

Many TOMODACHI alumni have experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and other disasters, and are quick to help others in need. This time, a team of TOMODACHI alumni volunteered in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, to support those affected by the Japan Floods. Their activities, which were coordinated with Peace Boat, included assessing needs, cleaning homes and working in an evacuation shelter.

The team was led by TOMODACHI Alumni Manager (and Associate and ELP ’10) Kaoru Utada. The team was also led by Associate Robin Lewis, who worked with Peace Boat for years and has provided his disaster response expertise to the TOMODACHI Alumni Disaster Resilience Training Program. (He also wrote this article last month about how to support those affected by the Japan Floods.)

Sorting donated clothes

In the past, the TOMODACHI Alumni Disaster Resilience Training Program also helped with the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016 and the Kyushu floods in 2017.

USJC and other Japan-related organizations are continuing to support those affected by the floods through the Japan Flood Friendship Fund. For more information, click here.

The team was led by Kaoru Utada (sitting, left) and Robin Lewis (sitting, center)

Nursing Students Learn About Disaster Medicine in the U.S.

Program participant Hikaru Matsuno shares her experience at the reception

From August 5 to 15, seven nursing students from Tohoku participated in a study tour in New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC as part of the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program. The students learned about disaster medicine, disaster nursing and medical procedures in the U.S., as well as about recovery from 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. This is the fourth year of the program, which has now supported more than 20 nursing students from Tohoku.

In addition to the program’s sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, we would like to thank Council Leader John Walsh, Outreach Coordinator at Children’s National, for facilitating many aspects of the program, including the reception at the end of the study tour. Associate Kenta Umetsu, Children’s Research Institute Facility & Biosafety Manager at Children’s National, provided on-the-ground support to the student participants throughout the trip, including those who delivered speeches in English at the reception.

The nursing students with representatives of Johnson & Johnson and Children’s National

At the reception, Hikaru Matsuno, a nursing student at the Kameda College of Health Sciences, spoke about her experience fleeing the tsunami and how that has inspired her to help others. Shiori Hikichi, a student at Iwate Prefectural University, shared her love for her hometown in Fukushima and how the program changed her perception. She said that she previously wanted to avoid speaking about her experience, out of fear that it would worsen the image of Fukushima. “But after going on this study tour and hearing about different natural disasters in the U.S., I found something in common with my own disaster experience–and it has made me want to help restore the resilience of Fukushima,” she said. These speeches drew tears, and the audience gave the speakers hugs and standing ovations.

The nursing students share a smile of relief after the presentations are done

Click here for more photos from the reception.

ELP News

Reflection from Staci Yamashita-Iida (ELP ’17)

The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

“The Emerging Leaders Program changes your life.” All ELP alumni have uttered a variation of that sentence at some point in time. However, I didn’t fully grasp its weight until I experienced it on my own.

Though the program itself lasts less than a week, its impact spans far beyond that. What I found to be most valuable was the relationships that were, and continue to be, made.

Networking dinner at the 2017 Annual Conference, graciously hosted by Council Leader Mark Uyeda (in light blue) and his wife Masae

Professionally, I serve as an estate planning attorney in Torrance, California, which has one of the largest populations of Japanese and Japanese Americans in the United States. As a result, a majority of my clients are from the community, and a handful have even been past and present USJC members. One was a retired international business law attorney who practiced in Japan for over ten years. Because of our USJC bond, he has shared a wealth of knowledge with me and continues to be a guiding resource, allowing me to better counsel my clients over the intricacies of Japan’s tax and estate laws.

The USJC network has not only cultivated my professional connections, but also reinforced my relationships stemming from community involvement.

The author (left) and Evelyn Tokuyama (ELP ’15) at the U.S.-Japan Council Day at Angel Stadium

While at the 2017 Annual Conference, I ran into Stephen Kagawa, a former USJC Board Member whose involvement with the organization dates back to its infancy. Stephen is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Go For Broke National Education Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and remembering the Japanese American veterans who served during World War II.

Our conversation at the Conference has allowed us to remain in touch after we both returned to our homes in Los Angeles. Since November, Stephen and I have been working on an initiative to get more Japanese and Japanese American young leaders involved in the organization. He even suggested we bring in Jaime Sugino (ELP ’17), my classmate from the program.

This is just one example of how the vast USJC network comes full circle and strengthens our community. Being a part of ELP, and USJC as a whole, is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to continuing my involvement with the organization for many years to come.

ELP Class of 2017


Introducing the 2018-19 Watanabe Scholars

The 2018-19 cohort of the U.S.-Japan Council Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship has just been announced!

We are proud to present the 39 recipients of the Watanabe Scholarship for study abroad. These undergraduate and graduate students were awarded scholarships to support a semester or year of academic study in the United States or Japan. 2018 marks the inaugural year to support American students studying in Japan and the third year for Japanese students studying in the United States. There was a high level of interest for this unique scholarship, making the selection competitive. The Council looks forward to supporting many more students in the future through this lasting gift from Mr. Watanabe.

Click here to view a full list of the 2018-19 Scholarship recipients, their bios and where they are studying.

Staffing Update: New Director of Partnerships & Development

Weston Konishi has joined us as Director of Partnerships & Development, working out of the Washington, DC office. He has served as a Senior Fellow at The Maureen & Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington, DC since 2009 to present, and previously served as Director of Programs from 1999 to 2007. Wes was the Chief Operating Officer of Peace Winds America based in the Washington, DC area from 2013 to 2014. He served as the Director of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC. Holding a B.A. and M.A. from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Wes has held teaching positions and fellowships at Johns Hopkins University, The George Washington University, the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, and was a Hitachi/Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan. He has over 15 years of experience in Washington, DC working in U.S.-Japan and Asia relations and policy. Wes has an extensive network of public and private sector leaders and experts, and broad experience in fundraising and development, team leadership and project management, design and implementation. He has published numerous articles, has conducted interviews with various U.S.-Japan related media and was a regular contributing columnist for The Daily Yomiuri for eight years.

Supporting Those Affected by the Japan Floods


Japan is currently experiencing what is considered the worst weather disaster the country has faced in 36 years. The floods and landslides in western Japan in July led to severe damage, most notably in the Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures. Hundreds of people have lost their lives, many have suffered damages to their homes, and many more are left without water.

The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and our friends at other U.S.-Japan related organizations offer heartfelt thoughts to all who are affected. Many in the U.S. have strong ties to the Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama communities through people-to-people programs and exchanges. Many Japanese Americans also have family ties or personal connections to the region.

USJC, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i and the United States-Japan Foundation have established the Japan Flood Friendship Fund (JFFF) to aid those who are affected. 100% of the contributions will go to relief efforts through our network of nonprofit organizations that are working on the ground. We also welcome organizations that would be interested in partnering with us to support those in need.

Please consider donating through the form here. If you would prefer to pay by check, please make your check payable to the U.S.-Japan Council and mail to:

U.S.-Japan Council
Attn: Japan Flood Friendship Fund
1819 L Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036

If you have any inquiries or would like to partner with us, please write to [email protected] or call 202-223-6840.

Register Now for the 2018 USJC Annual Conference in Tokyo!


U.S.-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference
Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
November 8-9

Registration is open for the U.S.-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference, to be held November 8-9!

Each year, USJC’s Annual Conference is attended by distinguished U.S. and Japanese leaders from all sectors, including business, government and civil society. This year, USJC returns to Tokyo to discuss how the United States and Japan can build a sustainable future together. The Conference will explore ways to collaborate toward mutual goals like supporting women leaders, and facing common challenges, including aging populations and security issues in Asia. The Conference will also discuss regional ties among various cities in both countries, the impact the midterm elections will have in the United States, strengthening philanthropy in Japan, and ways Tokyo can leverage the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for future growth.

Join USJC & USJC (Japan) in Tokyo to discuss how to create lasting partnerships and benefit communities on both sides of the Pacific. Click here to learn more and to register.

Member News

USJC Members Featured in Forbes JAPAN‘s Issue on Women Leaders


USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Chair of the USJC(Japan) Board of Councilors Kathy Matsui and Council Leader Yumi Kuwana are among the women leaders who are featured in the September issue of Forbes JAPAN. They are included in an article on how 100 women leaders make decisions in work and in their private lives. This issue, which focuses on women leaders, includes many other USJC supporters, such as past Annual Conference speakers.

Irene and Ms. Kuwana were also featured in Forbes JAPAN in 2016, in an article on “55 Global Woman Leaders of Japan.”

Upcoming Events

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through December 8, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History (Washington, DC)

Last year, the National Museum of American History opened an exhibit to mark 75 years since Executive Order 9066 authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. On display are artifacts, photographs and stories collected from Japanese American families. There will also be public programming throughout the year related to this exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit the official website.


Administrative Assistant for Development (Washington, DC)

The Administrative Assistant for Development position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC development activities. This position is in the Washington, DC headquarters office. This position will provide direct support to the Director of Partnerships & Development and to executive staff working on development areas. The Administrative Assistant for Development will interface with donors and related stakeholders. The position reports to the Director of Partnerships & Development and works in collaboration with staff in the USJC (Japan) office in Tokyo.

Click here for more information about the position.

Intern (Washington, DC)

The intern will provide support for Programs and Communications on a part-time or full-time basis. Duties will consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization of and attendance at special events, outreach and communication, writing and translation (if able). This is an excellent internship for those hoping to gain experience in the programmatic, digital and strategic marketing and/or nonprofit fields. USJC’s internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations.

Click here for more information about the position.

TOMODACHI Marketing & Communications Manager (Tokyo)

The Marketing & Communications Manager is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic communications program to develop the profile and brand of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience and stakeholders, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, program participants, donors, press and the general public. The Marketing & Communications Manager will work closely with teams within the TOMODACHI Initiative in the implementation of this mission, as well as with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Click here for more information about the position.