U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (August 18th, 2016)

Recent Events

Events in Hawaii Celebrate Diversity

Ms. Sasaki addressing the audience

On August 10, about 50 USJC members and supporters in Hawaii gathered to hear Council Leader Janelle Sasaki speak about diversity and inclusion. She is the Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion Services at Ernst & Young Advisory Japan, and has spoken about the topic many times for different audiences in the USJC and TOMODACHI community.

The audience included Board Member Wally Tsuha (left) and Council Leader Bernice Glenn (right)

During her stay in Hawaii, Ms. Sasaki also attended a regional women in leadership event, and exchanged ideas with local women leaders and members.

USJC members and supporters in Hawaii welcomed Ms. Sasaki for a discussion on women in leadership


USJC Members Welcome Participants of the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program


Twelve students taking part in the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program are currently visiting the United States, and on August 7, Council Leader Julie Azuma hosted them at her home in New York for an informal party.

Among the many USJC members who welcomed the nursing students were Junko Tsunashima, Susan Hamaker, Stann Nakazono, Yuki Kaneshige, Sakura Yagi, Kenshiro Uki, Jonathan Higa and David Kenji Chang. We thank all the members for their hospitality!

Friend of the Council John Walsh (second from left), who has been instrumental to this program through his work with Children’s National Medical Center, was among the guests

This three-year program aims to support the capacity building of nurses in the Tohoku region. The students travel to Sendai, Tokyo, New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC to learn about disaster medicine and nursing, meeting with leaders of the field in Japan and the United States


Thank you especially to Ms. Azuma (third row, third from right) for hosting the party!


The following is part of a year-long series of articles by the 2015 class of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program.

Reflection from Nicole Velasco (ELP 2015)

The author (second from left) with fellow Emerging Leaders and Secretary Norman Mineta (center), Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, at the 2015 Annual Conference

Prior to my arrival in Shibuya for the 2015 Annual Conference, I spent my days in Kyoto bowing before temples and shrines, considering the craftsmanship of gardens, and basking in the peace that manifests when one returns to its source. Not even a language barrier could deny the powerful message of continuity and tradition felt as a Japanese American returning to Japan. So much becomes clear when we are reminded of our roots.

This feeling of gratitude for such a rich heritage blossomed further upon arrival in Shibuya to meet my fellow Emerging Leaders. By way of an extensive LINE group chat, we found each other one by one. With only one previous group call and a PDF of bios, I was both nervous and excited to finally meet these amazing individuals from across the globe. A little of the “first-day-of-school” feeling came back and I hoped that I would fit in as one of the few yonsei in the mix.

With fellow Emerging Leaders at Hachiko

Over a beautiful meal, we got to know one another. Those early jitters were quelled by the kindness, thoughtfulness, and grace of this unique group, and were vanquished by the time we explored Shibuya’s libations after the dinner.

At the risk of echoing others in my ELP class, I must admit that the fast-forming nature of this bond has been one of the most powerful experiences of my life. In a mere two and a half days, we became family, or ohana as we say in Hawaii. How does this happen?

Having fun with a billboard in Shibuya

First, much credit is due to the planning by USJC and TOMODACHI. Each day was curated with thought-provoking engagements that stoked our individual understanding of our Japanese American experiences as well as our collective identity as a generation. We were gifted an Annual Conference with myriad opportunities to learn from and be inspired by amazing business and community leaders. Credit is also due to the ELP alumni who welcomed us as contemporaries and ensured that we did not miss the universal bonding experience that is karaoke.

Lastly, much of my aloha and gratitude is given to my fellow classmates. It is rare to find a group of people who understand each other not just intellectually but also fundamentally. The traditions, values and social mores of our roots inherently linked us before we even met. Gathering together at the Annual Conference affirmed what we’ve already known: that to be Japanese American is a gift, and to bond with each other is a treasure.

I write this as we prepare for the U40 Summit in Los Angeles and I am filled with excitement. In a matter of days, I’ll see my friends who have become my family. We’ll catch up about work life, revisit stories of mini-ELP reunions worldwide, and build new memories to last us until the 2016 Annual Conference in November. Yes, being a new ELP is once-in-a-lifetime, but this bond we share is for life.



2016 USJC Annual Conference


Monday, November 14, 2016 to Tuesday, November 15, 2016*(*There will also be TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders programming on Nov. 12 and USJC Members Day programming on Nov. 13)

Imagine. Innovate. Inspire. – The Silicon Valley Experience

Have you registered for USJC’s Seventh Annual Conference, to be held in Silicon Valley, California? Register now to get the best rate available!

Held in the center of high-tech startups and development, this year’s Conference will be an opportunity to advance an innovative agenda in U.S.-Japan relations, exchange views among leaders about challenges and opportunities, and identify ways that the U.S.-Japan relationship can be strengthened. It will be attended by hundreds of distinguished American and Japanese leaders from all sectors, providing a unique opportunity for learning and networking. It will highlight innovation and entrepreneurship, and inspire the next generation of leaders.

Featured keynote speakers this year include Hiroaki Nakanishi, Executive Chairman of Hitachi, LTD., and Brad Smith, President & CLO of Microsoft Corporation.

If you have questions about the 2016 Annual Conference, please contact Shane Graves, Director of Program Development, at [email protected] or +1-202-223-6855.

We look forward to seeing you in Silicon Valley in November!

Want to win FREE REGISTRATION for the Conference? Check out our ongoing Social Media Contest!

Rio Olympics

Japanese American Hero at Rio

Yoshihiro Uchida, known as the father of American Judo, was recently featured in articles by ESPN and the Asahi Shimbun. Mr. Uchida’s perseverance through the difficulties of growing up as an interned Japanese American during World War II continues to inspire his judo student (who just competed in the Rio Olympics) and the Bay Area judo community. He is also a well-known businessman in San Jose, and as former chair of the Japanese American National Museum, has worked closely with several USJC leaders and members. (Click here or the image below to read the ESPN article; click here to read the Asahi Shimbun piece (in English).)


Member News

Dr. Daniel Okimoto Featured in Asahi Shimbun

Member of the Board of Councilors Daniel Okimoto was recently featured in Asahi Shimbun. In the article, Dr. Okimoto discusses why technology and connecting with Silicon Valley is critical for Japan. (Click here or on the image below to read the piece.) This is the second Asahi Shimbun article to feature USJC members discussing the Silicon Valley Japan Platform; another by Board Member James Higa was published a few weeks ago. Both are available in English and Japanese.

Yumi Kuwana in Forbes JAPAN


Council Leader Yumi Kuwana was selected as one of the “55 Leading Women in Japan” in the September issue of Forbes JAPAN (along with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye). Ms. Kuwana discusses her childhood growing up in the United States and Japan, her career in finance and her work with the Global Citizens Initiative, which she founded (the article is in Japanese.)


Upcoming Events

Very Young Composers of Fukushima and New York (TOMODACHI Suntory Fukushima Mirai Music Program)


When: August 20, 2016 at 5pm – 8pm
Where: David Rubenstein Atrium (61 W 62nd St, New York, NY 10023)

This concert is part of the TOMODACHI Suntory Fukushima Mirai Music Program, which brings eight Japanese high school students from Fukushima prefecture to New York City. This program was launched in February 2016 by Suntory Holdings Limited (Suntory) and the TOMODACHI Initiative, and is held in collaboration with the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program.

The program provides students in the wind ensemble club at Fukushima Futaba Mirai Gakuen High School opportunities to rehabilitate their hearts through music. The Japanese students have been creating their own arrangements of the Japanese song Furusato, which means “hometown” in Japanese. During the concert, New York Philharmonic musicians and guest artists will perform the music created by Very Young Composers from Fukushima and New York City.

These activities are a continuation of the collaboration between TOMODACHI and the Philharmonic in the 2014–15 season.

Tickets are free and the event is open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited.

For more information, please visit the New York Philharmonic’s event page.

Japan-U.S. International Symposium for Ocean Conservation in Hawaii


When: August 22, 2016 at 10am – 4pm
Where: Hawaii Convention Center (Lili’u Theatre, Room 310)

The ocean’s resources, as well as its possibilities, were long considered to be infinite. But now, faced with various problems such as global warming, pollution, overfishing and inappropriate development, the marine environment is in an unprecedented crisis. In order to keep the ocean beautiful for generations to come, women from the United States and Japan will discuss possible solutions at this symposium. Akie Abe, the First Lady of Japan and wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Irene Hirano Inouye, President of the U.S.-Japan Council and wife of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, are representing the two countries across the Pacific.

This event is hosted by Akie Abe, Irene Hirano Inouye and Sailors for the Sea Japan, and supported by USJC, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Besides Ms. Abe and Ms. Hirano Inouye, other main speakers include:

  • Julie Packard (Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  • Margaret Spring (Vice President, Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  • Meg Caldwell (Board, Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  • Ruth Gates (Director, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii)
  • Takeji Mazuka (President, Sanctuary NPO)
  • Minako Iue (President, Sailors for the Sea Japan)

For more information, please see the flier here. To register, please click here.

East Asia’s Security Challenges and U.S.-Japan Relations

When: August 26, 2016 at 12pm – 2pm
Where: Fish Family Foundation (75 State St., 21st Floor, Boston, MA 02109)

The U.S.-Japan Council New England chapter is hosting a discussion about East Asia’s Security Challenges and U.S.-Japan Relations by Dr. Shinju Fujihira, Executive Director of the Program on U.S.-Japan relations at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.

In this talk, Dr. Fujihira will evaluate the U.S. and Japanese responses to East Asia’s contemporary security challenges, paying particular attention to the impact of China’s economic and military modernization. He will also discuss the distinctive and important role that the Japanese American and Asian American communities must play in East Asia’s uncertain future.

A light lunch will be served. Photo ID is required for building security.

Please RSVP to intern[at]fishfamilyfoundation.org.

JWLI – Women Leading Social Changes in Japan

When: October 18, 2016 at 9am – 6pm
Where: Tokyo American Club (Tokyo, Japan)

JWLI 2016 東京サミット

The Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) is celebrating its 10th anniversary by hosting a Tokyo Summit titled “Women Leading Social Changes in Japan.” JWLI is led by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish. Among the speakers at this summit are Irene Hirano Inouye and Council Leader Mari Kuraishi.

This summit will allow participants to:

  • Observe successful cases of social change in Japan achieved by women leaders
  • Learn from the U.S experience: “What is different from Japan? What is similar? What can be learned?”
  • Meet role models from Japan’s social sector leaders and social entrepreneurs
  • Explore obstacles for Japanese women leaders and how to overcome them

To learn more information, please visit the JWLI website or the summit’s website.



USJC seeks a talented, dynamic individual for a newly-created position of Executive Director, U.S.-Japan Council (Japan). The Executive Director will provide leadership and oversight of the Council’s general programs and activities and of the TOMODACHI Initiative. This will include responsibility for the implementation of program goals and objectives, providing leadership and oversight of program development and management, fundraising, communications and operations. The Executive Director will be based in Tokyo and manage the staff in Japan and will work closely with the U.S.-Japan Council (U.S.) staff in the United States.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.