U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter August 20th, 2015

2015 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders

USJC is proud to announce the members of the 2015 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. In its sixth year, the program will bring 12 Japanese American young professionals to Tokyo, Japan for the 2015 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference. The Emerging Leaders will participate in a leadership orientation program, network with high level leaders, attend all conference events and participate in the Annual Members Meeting.

Please join us in welcoming:

  • Capt Michael M. Bosack – Deputy Chief, Government Relations Branch, Headquarters, US Forces, Japan (Yokota Air Base, Japan)
  • Mr. David Kenji Chang – Portfolio Manager, Tyvor Capital, LLC (New York, NY)
  • Ms. Kuriko Hasegawa Wong – Vice President, FleishmanHillard (Houston, TX)
  • Ms. Ellen Kamei – Policy Aide, County of Santa Clara, Board of Supervisors (San Jose, CA)
  • Ms. Sonya Kuki – Operation Manager, Camber Corporation, International Peace, Security, and Development Consulting Directorate (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Ms. Lianna Kushi – Marketing Manager, FamilyID (Lowell, MA)
  • Mr. Steve Sakanashi – Director, Sekai Creator (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Ms. Miki Sankary – Sustainability Consultant, Goby, LLC (Chicago, IL)
  • Mr. Winston Akira Taira – Manager, Special Projects, King’s Hawaiian (Torrance, CA)
  • Ms. Evelyn Tokuyama  – Senior Account Executive, Weber Shandwick (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Mr. Rei Tsuchiya – Manager, Government and External Relations, Hitachi, Ltd. (Washington, DC)
  • Ms. Nicole A. Velasco – Executive Director, City & County of Honolulu – Office of Economic Development (Honolulu, HI)

For more information, see the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program webpage, where their full bios will be uploaded soon!

(For updates on the activities of one of the 2014 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders, Mio Yamamoto, see below.)

Recent Events

Nibei Event featuring Fred Katayama – Los Angeles

On August 11, USJC Board Member Frederick Katayama gave a presentation at the Nibei Foundation, titled “Get beyond the barbed wire mentality: Embrace your Japanese heritage and get involved in U.S.-Japan relations.”

Mr. Katayama discussed how the Japanese American community can consider the internment and drive for redress and reparations as history, and look forward to the future. “It’s time for Nikkei to get to know the Japanese better and vice versa,” he said, and encouraged Japanese Americans to embrace their heritage and participate in U.S.-Japan relations. He also discussed USJC’s role in this regard, touching upon its activities and accomplishments.

Mr. Katayama (left) with (L-R standing) Irene Hirano Inouye, Council Member Debra Nakatomi, Founding Chairman Tom Iino, Membership Manager and Program Specialist Allison Murata and (seated) Dr. Paul Terasaki

Dr. Paul Terasaki, who established the Nibei Foundation (and is a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors and also Mr. Katayama’s uncle), attended with his family. Other attendees of the USJC community included USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Founding Chairman Tom Iino, Council Member Debra Nakatomi and Membership Manager and Program Specialist Allison Murata. The presentation was preceded by a dinner and a calligraphy workshop.

(L-R) Dr. Paul Terasaki, Ms. Hisako Terasaki, Mr. Katayama and Mr. Richard Terasaki

Associate Members Summer Event – Tokyo

On August 6, Associate Members organized a summer event at Bistro Barnyard in Ginza, Tokyo, welcoming current and prospective members.

Approximately 30 participants (Associate Members, Council Members, Friends of the Council, guests and staff) gathered to meet one another, network and learn how to become more involved, particularly with the upcoming Annual Conference. They also heard Janelle Sasaki, Executive Director of the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services at Ernst & Young, speak about what the next generation can do to speed up gender equality in Japan. Attendees also enjoyed a raffle, with gifts courtesy of generous Members.

Associate Member Evelyn Tokuyama (left) and Council Member Janelle Sasaki (right)

The Associate Members, a dynamic group of young professionals, welcomed new members as well as potential candidates for membership. Board Members Paul Yonamine, Royanne Doi and Russell Kawahara also attended and shared their views with those they met. USJC Executive Vice President and COO Suzanne Basalla and Associate Member Adam Moriwaki, who were visiting from Washington, DC and New York, respectively, participated as well. This was an opportunity to connect over the importance of U.S.-Japan relations, and discuss how everyone can leverage their own unique backgrounds, talents and experiences to lead and contribute to the economic growth of both countries.

(L-R) Guests Mr. Skyler Tajima, Ms. Eri Ito, and Mr. Daisuke Watanabe, Executive Director of TOMODACHI Initiative Mr. Marc Lassman, and Member of the USJC(J) Board of Directors Mr. Russell Kawahara

Special thanks to Associate Member Evelyn Tokuyama for organizing this event and contributing to this article!

More photos can be found here.


2015 TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program finishes strong in Washington, DC

The program participants share their experience at a final presentation

Fourteen students from Tohoku, Tokyo and Washington, DC came together this summer for the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program, a six-week program held in those three locations. This included an initial two-and-a-half weeks in Tokyo and Tohoku, including homestays, visits with social entrepreneurs and discussions on cultural traditions. The second phase of the program was in DC, where students also stayed with host families and studied U.S.-Japan relations, diversity, social entrepreneurship and leadership. A notable session for the group was a panel about the Japanese American experience featuring Terry Shima, a veteran of World War II serving in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; Mary Murakami; a Camp Topaz internee, and Captain Cynthia Macri, a medical doctor from the U.S. Navy. Both the Japanese and U.S. students were captivated by the individual stories of identity and loyalty in the face of hard times.

Participants present on what they experienced during the program, including the meeting with Mr. Shima (pictured in slide, left) and Ms. Murakami (pictured in slide, right)*

An overarching theme to this program has been of storytelling: whose stories are told, different versions of history, and telling the stories of those less often heard. On August 14, the students showcased their experience and presented what they’d learned in Tohoku and DC to an audience of parents, host families, partners and representatives of the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges, whose generous gift supports this program.

The program participants with representatives of the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges

More photos from the final presentation and showcase can be found here.

The program blog can be viewed at: //usjapanfuture.org.

(*Those who would like to hear Mr. Shima and Ms. Murakami speak will have a chance to do so at an upcoming event in Washington, DC (details here).)

TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program News

The following is part of a year-long series of articles by the 2014 class of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program.

Reflection from Mio Yamamoto (ELP 2014)

They did not teach me Japanese American history
As a Japanese individual who was born and raised in Japan, I learned very little about Japanese American history in school. After I moved to the United States in 2009, I was shocked to learn about the internment. The first time I heard about it was when I watched a film at the New York Peace Film Festival. I thought about the hardship and resilience of those kept in the camps. As a Japanese person living in the U.S., I began thinking about what I can do to reconnect Japanese Americans and Japanese and contribute to a better future.

Crossing boundaries as my core value
Connecting with people by bridging gaps has always been a core value for me. After learning the history of Japanese Americans, applying to the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) became a natural next step. I knew very few Japanese people who attended the program in the past, but thought of this as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between Japanese American and Japanese.

Before departing for Hawaii to attend the program, I asked Margie Yamamoto, Co-President of the New England Japanese American Citizens League, to give me a presentation about her family’s incarceration experience. I was touched by her family’s pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit despite their hardship.

Entering a new community
The several days in Honolulu were an entirely new experience. I had never been spent time with so many Japanese Americans before. I was struck by the diversity of my fellow Emerging Leaders, as well as how much we had in common as Japanese Americans. From time to time, I asked myself, “Who am I? Do I belong here?”. Questioning my identity was a strange experience to me, partly because I lived in Japan for 30 years.

By the end of the Annual Conference, however, we were sitting together on the beach at midnight in Honolulu, sharing a lot about ourselves. I felt connected with them, and very much blessed to be there with my fellow Emerging Leaders and the USJC community, where I can sincerely ask myself who I am and who I want to be.

Co-creating projects with fellow Emerging Leaders and USJC Members
I feel more and more thankful for the ELP experience after the program. I enjoy hanging out with other ELP alumni all over the U.S. and Tokyo. I keep meeting like-minded people at USJC, when attending women networking evenings in Tokyo or organizing the USJC booth at the Japan Festival in Boston.

The author (left) with TOMODACHI alumni and Showa Boston students at the USJC Booth of Japan Festival Boston

Furthermore, three ELP alumni from 2014, Jonathan Abbott, Lauren Ohata, and I, are organizing a trip to Tohoku for interested USJC Members to attend after the Annual Conference in Tokyo this November. We are working as a team to bring together different strengths each of us has.

The author (front row, center) with her nonprofit organization’s members from Japan and U.S. at Learning Journey in Tohoku

Without ELP, I could have never joined this like-minded yet diverse community. I very much look forward to further deepening and expanding the relationships between the United States and Japan.


JALD Applications Now Open for 2016

We are now accepting applications for the 2016 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program. This program provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the United States to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, non-profit and cultural sectors.

The trip dates are from March 5 to 12, 2016, and will include travel to Tokyo and Kobe. The application deadline is September 18, 2015. Please click here to see more information or to download the application form.

Member News

Roy Yamaguchi serves as Grand Marshal of Nisei Week

Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Roy Yamaguchi was appointed as the Grand Marshal for this year’s Nisei Week (August 15-23). For the past 75 years, the Nisei Week Foundation has been celebrating the Nisei Week Japanese Festival in Los Angeles, complete with cultural activities from ikebana to calligraphy, and the famous Grand Parade.

As Grand Marshal, Mr. Yamaguchi, the founder of Roy’s Restaurants, led the Grand Parade on August 16. A samurai-themed Nebuta float that was custom made in Japan was shipped to Los Angeles for the occasion. Photos from the parade can be seen here.

For more information on Nisei Week, please visit its webpage. To read more about Mr. Yamaguchi’s appointment, please read the announcement.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing through September 6 – “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images” Exhibit (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: Ongoing through September 6, during regular museum hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Friday – Sunday 11am to 5pm; Thursdays 12pm – 8pm)
  • Venue: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Council Member Dr. Susumu Ito served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit of Japanese American soldiers, in World War II. During his tour, he took photos of the daily lives of the soldiers and U.S. military history in the making. These photos are currently shown at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in an exhibit called “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images.

This is the inaugural exhibition in a new series drawn from JANM’s permanent collection. A celebration of the donation by Dr. Ito of his vast archive of photographs and negatives, this exhibit gives the public a rare look at the daily lives of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. To learn more, please view the exhibition’s webpage or this interview of Dr. Ito recently published in the Los Angeles Times.

Click on the image above to read the LA Times’ interview of Dr. Ito

August 21 & 23 – “An American Dream” Opera (Seattle)

  • Date & Time: August 21 at 8pm, August 23 at 2:30pm
  • Venue: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (Seattle, Washington)

Described as a “provocative drama with local connections,” An American Dream explores the lives of two women during World War II: a German Jewish woman who left her loved ones behind and a Japanese American woman facing the reality of internment. The Seattle Opera is presenting this World Premiere in two performances as a Saturday night performance and a Sunday matinee.

Two 2013 alumnae of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program, Gabrielle Nomura Gainor and Kei Tsu, have played important roles in the creation and shaping of this performance. Vice Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors Norman Mineta will be speaking post-performance on Sunday.

To see more information or to buy tickets, click here. Soundbites from the opera are available here.

(L-R) Ms. Kei Tsu, Ms. Gainor and singer Nina Yoshida Nelsen in between rehearsals for An American Dream

September 15 – USJI Event: World War II and the Experience of Japanese Americans (Washington, DC)

  • Date & Time: September 15, 2015 at 6pm – 7:30pm
  • Venue: Conference Room A, 2000 M Street, NW Lower Level, Conference Center Washington, D.C. 20036

From September 9 through 15, the U.S.-Japan Research Institute is hosting USJI Week, which will feature a myriad of lectures and events. On September 15, World War II veteran Terry Shima, Camp Topaz internee Mary Murakami, and USJC Member Priscilla Ouchida will be speaking at a lecture titled: “World War II and the Experience of Japanese Americans” (moderated by Yoshiaki Abe, Operating Advisor at USJI). The lecture will discuss the experience of Japanese Americans during the war, especially those who faced prejudice during internment and who served with the Armed Forces. While telling the story of Japanese Americans in the United States, the seminar also follows how Japanese Americans have become leaders of business and government and how the next generation can continue this impact.

For more information on this seminar, or to register for it, please visit the event page.

September 26 & 27 – Japan Fair 2015 (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: September 26 (10am – 8pm) and 27 (10am – 5pm), 2015
  • Venue: 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Come attend the Japan Fair in Los Angeles! Held on September 26 and 27, this event will host a variety of entertainment, food and activities. The entertainment schedule includes everything from J-Pop to ukulele performances and kimono fashion shows. Food will be provided by global and local vendors including traditional Japanese festival food and drinks, like okonomiyaki, ramen and sake. The Fair will also feature a film festival featuring five different movies.

USJC is proud to support this celebration of Japanese culture. To learn more about the festival, please visit its website. To purchase tickets to the festival or the movies, please visit this page.

September 28 – AALD Symposium (Kyoto, Japan)

  • Date & Time: September 28, 2015 at 4pm – 5:30pm
  • Venue: Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan)

As part of the Asian American Leadership Delegation program—funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and implemented by the U.S.-Japan Council—six Asian American state legislators, who will be visiting Japan then, will speak at a panel discussion at Ritsumeikan University. They will discuss their varied political journeys from the perspective of leadership diversification.

To learn more and to register, click here.