U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (August 4th, 2016)

Seventh Business Advisory Board Discusses Importance of U.S.-Japan Alliance

Admiral Harris addresses the audience

On July 26, the seventh U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club, welcoming Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, as the featured speaker.

The Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, Paul Yonamine, led the discussion and welcomed the attending business executives and USJC members. Suzanne Basalla, USJC Executive Vice President & COO, expanded on how the Council strengthens U.S.-Japan relations through people-to-people connections, and encouraged the attendees to participate in the Annual Conference this November to witness the growing bilateral relationship. She also introduced some TOMODACHI programs that are ongoing this summer.

Admiral Harris shakes hands with business leaders at the event

Admiral Harris began his speech by taking a moment to remember the lives lost during the Kumamoto Earthquake and the Bangladesh attack. He then discussed the main security challenges for the United States today, and emphasized the importance of maintaining global security to achieve a brighter future. He believes that strengthening the trilateral relationship among the United States, Japan and South Korea is crucial to uniting the world. Above all, he sees commitment as key to protect international rules and security, and said, “We all must commit because [a] choice without commitment is just hope.” As Commander and as a Japanese American, his goal is to help Japan strengthen their defense force and continue to have considerable self-power.

When an attendee asked Admiral Harris about his career, he responded that he was grateful to have been introduced to the nature of service from his father. He said that whenever he speaks to young leaders, he tells them, “The important thing is to serve your country in some capacity.”

We look forward to expanding upon this discussion on U.S.-Japan relations at the Annual Conference, held in Silicon Valley from November 14 to 15!

Council Leader Janelle Sasaki (left) exchanges business cards with a guest

Click here to see more photos.

Recent Events

USJC Members in Japan Inaugurate Benkyoukai Dinner Series with Minister Taro Kono

(L-R) Mr. Kawahara, Mr. Kono and Ms. Hirano Inouye

On July 14, seventeen USJC members and guests gathered for USJC Japan Region’s inaugural Benkyokai Dinner. This meeting featured Minister Taro Kono, a member of Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet and a long-time supporter of USJC.

Japan Regional Chair Russell Kawahara convened the Benkyoukai Dinner. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye made opening remarks about recent USJC developments, including new corporate partners and ongoing preparations for the Annual Conference in Silicon Valley.

Minister Kono gave the audience a true insider’s view of current political issues and the political system in Japan. In his remarks and in the Q&A discussion that followed, Minister Kono treated attendees to his personal views on a wide range of topics, including issues related to the Imperial succession, the national budget, tax reform, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Tokyo Metropolitan election, labor and immigration policies and reforms, and stimulating the economy.

USJC thanks Board Members Russell Kawahara and Stan Koyanagi, as well as Yuko Kawahara, for organizing this event!



Council Leader Addresses Participants of TOMODACHI Softbank Leadership Program

The TOMODACHI Summer 2016 SoftBank Leadership Program is currently under way in Berkeley, California. 100 Japanese high school students from the disaster affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima are staying on the campus of UC Berkeley for an intensive three-week workshop focused on global leadership development and community service.

Mr. Morishita addressing the students

A number of USJC members in the region support this program, which has taken place every summer since 2012. On July 22 this year, Council Leader Leroy Morishita, President of California State University, East Bay, addressed the students at the opening ceremony of the program. He shared his experience as a Sansei growing up in California, visiting Japan for the first time as a youth, and learning how to think creatively while he studied at UC Berkeley. “Our hope is that you will gain self-confidence to become leaders in your community,” he said. “So take chances, speak up, think outside the box, and imagine that there are no limits to what you can do.”

USJC Staff Meet with U.S. participants of the TOMODACHI LEAD ON! Tour Japan Series Program

The U.S. participants (left) share their experience with USJC staff (right)

On July 25, USJC staff in Washington, DC met with three of the U.S. participants of the TOMODACHI LEAD ON! Tour Japan Series Program 2016. Three leaders of the Japanese Council on Independent Living Centers (JIL) who led the 2015 group from Japan to the United States were also present, visiting DC for the annual conference of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL).

The U.S. participants shared what they learned on the program, from the cultural and logistical differences of living with disabilities in the United States and Japan, to the new non-discrimination act in Japan compared with the ADA. The participants said that they were welcomed warmly by all they met, and that they were impressed by the thoughtful questions they received throughout their visit.

JIL leaders also participated in the discussion

All the participants discussed their experience traveling to Sendai, where they met survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. One of the participants said that she wants to ensure that her loved ones in the United States are not vulnerable in case of a disaster, and that she wants to initiate conversations with key stakeholders at all levels to be proactive and inclusive in their disaster preparedness.

The participants come from all over the United States and, in addition to the group trip to Sendai and Tokyo, each visited centers for independent living in various cities throughout Japan.


Click here to see more photos.

Participants of TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program Share Lessons Learned in Washington, DC

A student shares her design of a panel for a quilt created by all participants

On July 29, 18 high school students who are participating in the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program gave a presentation about their experience. This marked the end of the two-week U.S. portion of the program, where Japanese high school students visited their counterparts in Washington, DC, and explored the city together. The Japanese and American students have since left for Japan, and are now visiting Tokyo and the Tohoku region.

The audience included parents, host families, program alumni and friends. Representatives of the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges companies, whose generous contributions support this program, were also in attendance.

The students shared what they learned, as well as their hopes for a future that embraces diversity, community development and lasting friendships between the two countries. Their two weeks in DC included homestays and conversations with social entrepreneurs and local civil rights leaders. The participants found the discussions with Mary Murakami (a Camp Topaz internee), Al Goshi (a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team) and Mary Beth Tinker (an African American nurse who was brought up during the Civil Rights era) particularly memorable. Both the Japanese and American students expressed admiration for the speakers’ stories of strength in the wake of hard times. Many students who were moved by what they learned recited poetry, performed original spoken word, and presented their ideas of what the program means to them.

Another student addresses the audience

While they are excited to be traveling across the world, the students are also keeping the goals of the program in mind. American students Christefer Mitchel and Yeysi Rodriguez anticipate learning more about Japanese culture and language. Japanese students Kimura Higato and Konno Hiroto, while excited to return to their home country, want to inspire their American peers to learn more about Japanese history and tradition. Both the Japanese and American students hope to not only broaden their global awareness, but also teach others the effects of culture and history on modern society. During the presentation, all the students said that they were inspired to do more in their communities by speaking up for their rights and “being the change [they] want to see in the world.” The students expressed previous difficulties and hesitations to take a stand for what they believe in. But, they said, this program has taught them not to let their fears or stereotypes keep them from doing what they believe in.

All students, with representatives of the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges companies

Click here to see more photos.


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.

To register, please visit the USJC Annual Conference webpage in either English or Japanese.

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!

Now Accepting Applications for the 2016 Asian American Leadership Delegation: December 2–10, 2016

The Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD), organized by USJC in collaboration with The National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators, provides the opportunity for a select group of six Asian American state elected officials from across the U.S. to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic and non-profit sectors. The program is funded by The Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

In its third year, the program works with state elected officials to broaden the understanding of the U.S.-Japan relationship in U.S. legislative bodies and to foster connections among diverse Asian American leaders and Japanese government, business and civil society leaders. After taking part in the Program, participants will have opportunities to continue a leadership role in U.S.-Japan relations by connecting with USJC’s extensive international, national and regional networks.

The deadline for receipt of applications for the 2016 Delegation is Monday, August 15, 2016. Applications should be submitted by email ([email protected]) or mailed to the U.S.-Japan Council, ATTN: Dana Fager, 1819 L Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036. Please note “Application for the Asian American Leadership Delegation” on the front of the envelope if the application is mailed.

Please share this information with qualified individuals who may be interested.

For more information about the AALD Program, please view the AALD webpage or contact Irene Kawanabe, Director, National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators at [email protected] or Dana Fager, Development Coordinator, at [email protected].

The 2015 AALD at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly


New Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike

We extend warm congratulations to Ms. Yuriko Koike, a longtime supporter of USJC, who has just been elected Governor of Tokyo! She is the first woman to become the Tokyo governor. USJC has worked with Ms. Koike on several occasions, especially with the aim to support women in leadership. A few examples are a networking event Ms. Koike organized with female Diet members and USJC members after the 2014 USJC-ACCJ Women in Business Summit, as well as her participation in a USJC-organized Womenomics Lunch in Houston in 2015.

Ms. Koike (front row, center) with USJC members, Diet members and other leaders at a networking event she organized in 2014

In Memoriam

We are saddened to learn about the passing of Council Leader Ted Namba. Dr. Namba was an ophthalmologist and the Owner of Dr. Ted T. Namba & Associates, P.C. He was also the President of the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona. As a participant of the 2009 Japanese American Leadership Delegation program, he was close with other JALD alumni and supported newer classes of the program. We will miss Dr. Namba, and extend our deepest condolences to his family.

Member News

James Higa Featured in Asahi Shimbun

Board Member James Higa was recently featured in Asahi Shimbun. In the article, Mr. Higa discusses how the Silicon Valley Japan Platform is the “kakehashi” to connect and reshape Japanese companies into global powerhouses. (Click here or on the image below to read the piece.) This article was also published in Japanese.


Irene Hirano Inouye in Forbes JAPAN

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was selected as one of the “55 Leading Women in Japan” in the September issue of Forbes JAPAN. In it, Ms. Hirano Inouye discusses her career thus far, her inspirations and her goals. Please check it out if you are in Japan! (The article is only in Japanese.)


Jose Fuentes Honored by Government of Japan

On July 26, Council Leader Jose Keichi Fuentes received the 2016 Foreign Minister’s Commendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Consul General Ken Okaniwa of Miami presented the award to Mr. Fuentes for facilitating mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, especially by developing the sister cities relationship between Miami and Kagoshima. Mr. Fuentes has served as Chairman of the Miami Kagoshima Sister Cities Committee since 2002, and recently led his third delegation of Miami high school students, accompanied by Miami Mayor Thomas Regalado, to Kagoshima. For more information, see this summary by the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami.

Carole Hayashino and Delphine Hirasuna Honored by JACL

Council Leaders Carole Hayashino and Delphine Hirasuna have received the 2016 Japanese American of the Biennium Award, the highest public service award given by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Ms. Hayashino was involved in the national legislative effort for redress and reparations for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. As President and Executive Director of the Japanese Culture Center of Hawaii, she worked to establish the Honouliuli Japanese American internment camp as a national monument—which came to fruition in February 2015.

The video honoring Ms. Hayashino

Ms. Hirasuna, author of The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese Internment Camps, 1942-1946 and guest curator of the Art of Gaman exhibit, has allowed more than 120 artifacts from Japanese American concentration camps to receive mainstream recognition and has educated the public about the Japanese American internment experience.

Click on this link or the screenshots above and below to learn more.

Mark Mitsui Selected President of Portland Community College

The video honoring Ms. Hirasuna

Council Leader Mark Mitsui, who currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges for the U.S. Department of Education, has been selected as the next president of Portland Community College (PCC) in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Mitsui has previously served as president of Washington state’s North Seattle College and was senior administrator and teacher at educational institutions across the Northwest. For more information and a Q&A with Mr. Mitsui, please see this announcement by PCC.

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:

  • Tamayo Marukawa (Japanese Minister of the Environment)
  • 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.

October 18: JWLI – Women Leading Social Changes in Japan (Tokyo, 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 candidate who can bring experience in digital communications, primarily with information technology, web design and social media, to our organization. We seek a candidate who will develop mid- to long-term strategies in communications and work closely with staff and board leadership in the implementation of communication strategies.

This position offers an opportunity to make an impact in a growing non-profit and an opportunity to network with prominent leaders at the forefront of U.S.-Japan relations. Fluency in English is required and Japanese language proficiency is desirable.

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