U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (December 10th, 2015)

Japanese American Leaders Meet with Japanese Ambassador and Consuls General

Ambassador Sasae; Minister Tamaki Tsukada, Head of Chancery at the Embassy of Japan; USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and other leaders engage in discussion

On December 1, prominent Japanese Americans (JA) from across the United States were selected to participate in a discussion with Japanese government leaders as part of MOFA’s annual meeting of the Ambassador, Consuls General (CG) and Japanese American Leaders in Washington, DC.

(L-R) Mr. Arthur Taniguchi, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Hilo; Mr. Yasushi Misawa, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu; and Ms. Sherry Menor-McNamara, Council Member and President & CEO of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii

The talks explored how the U.S.-Japan relationship plays out locally across the country, and how both the Japanese government and individual communities can raise the profile of, as well as increase, the positive activities and contributions to U.S.-Japan relations that take place in the United States. Clean energy innovation, Japanese companies’ regional investments, transportation and delegation visits to Japan by state and local government leaders were some highlights of these activities. The discussion also focused on the need for increased investments in people-to-people exchanges across sectors.

Following the formal meeting, Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae hosted a lunch at his residence for the JA leaders, Consuls General and Honorary Consuls General.

At the Ambassador’s Residence

The CG-JA meeting is an annual collaborative effort between the Embassy of Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council.

Recent Events

U.S.-Japan Relations Symposium – Evanston, IL

(L-R) Council Member Marion Friebus-Flaman, Board Member Dayne Kono, Irene Hirano Inouye, Council Members Toshiki Masaki, Richard Morimoto and Lisa Sakai

On November 21, a symposium titled “U.S.-Japan Relations: 70 Years and Beyond” was held at Northwestern University. This event, co-sponsored by USJC, offered an in-depth examination of the relationship between Japan and the United States. It also explored the role the Nikkei community in the Midwest can play, and its relevance in the future relationship of these two nations.

Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado addressing the audience

Council Member and 2015 JALD alumnus Richard Morimoto, who is the Bill and Gayle Cook Professional of Biology at Northwestern, helped spearhead this event. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Dr. Morimoto and other USJC members–including Board Member Dayne Kono, Council Members Toshiki Masaki and Lisa Sakai, and Associate Member Brandon Mita–participated as moderators and panelists. Most of the USJC Members spoke as part of the closing panel, which discussed the role of Japanese Americans in U.S.-Japan relations. Other panels looked at the history of the Japanese American community in Chicago, current issues for the Japanese American community, and relations among different Asian American groups. Consul General of Japan in Chicago, Mr. Toshiyuki Iwado, also delivered remarks.

Associate Member and 2013 Emerging Leader Brandon Mita (right) was among the panelists, along with Ms. Sandra Yamate (left) and Dr. Greg Kimura (middle)

Close to 100 people attended despite the snow, including several USJC Members in the region. The event was then followed by a dinner.

For additional information, please click here.


First TOMODACHI Generation Summit Held in Tokyo

The first TOMODACHI Generation Summit was held at Sophia University in Tokyo on November 8. This inaugural summit brought together approximately 140 university students and young professionals from the United States and Japan who are alumni of various TOMODACHI programs, including cultural exchange, homestay and leadership programs. For the full report, click here.

The Summit was covered in a recent issue of The Journal, published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). Click here to read the article.

USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish (second from left) and Council Member Britt Yamamoto (third from left) were among the speakers at the Summit, along with Ms. Lata Reddy of the Prudential Foundation (middle) and Mr. Jun Miura of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (right)

Hospitality Hosts Needed in Washington, DC on Jan. 7

Calling all DC members and friends: the U.S.-Japan Council will host three Japanese college students currently studying in the United States for the 2015-16 academic year as part of the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program. Hosting TOMODACHI participants for a delicious, hearty meal when they come through regions is a great way to connect our wonderful and enthusiastic members with current TOMODACHI participants. If you are interested in hosting one of the students, please contact Mya Fisher for more information.


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

Reflection from Evelyn Tokuyama (ELP 2015)

The author (middle in front of the TOMODACHI banner) with her fellow 2015 Emerging Leaders and USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa (right)

Living, working and absorbing all that Tokyo and Japan have to offer for the last four years, it was my honor and privilege to be part of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program at the 2015 USJC Annual Conference, the first to be held in Tokyo. In addition, serving on the Annual Conference Hosting Committee as Media/Communications Co-Chair on behalf of Weber Shandwick made the overall experience even more special—as I saw the Conference successfully come together from start to finish.

In less than a week, I bonded, connected with and shared impactful experiences with the 2015 ELP cohort as well as 25 alumni. The connections made in such a short amount of time, and the dynamic that came so naturally, laid the foundation for lifelong friendships and a commitment to nurturing the U.S.-Japan relationship for generations to come. Never before have I been immersed in a group of such like-minded yet diverse, multi-talented and passionate individuals.

For the first time, I had found a community I could wholly identify with as a Japanese American. My participation in ELP brought things full circle in many ways, including my personal life. The program and USJC acted as a vehicle to continue the legacy of my late grandfather, Jiro Tokuyama. He was also a strong advocate of ensuring a solid bridge between the United States and Japan, through his work with the Ministry of Defense (previously the Japan Defense Agency), and later on at JETRO and the Nomura Research Institute. He continues to serve as an inspiration in my own life.

I vividly remember where I was and what I was doing on March 11, 2011 when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, as well as the ensuing aftermath. For this reason, the special address during the Annual Conference by Mr. Futoshi Toba, Mayor, City of Rikuzentakata, particularly resonated with me. The ability to come together, the sheer resilience and compassion the Japanese displayed were stunning considering the circumstances they faced.

Exchanging business cards with 2013 Emerging Leader Nate Gyotoku (left)

Emerging Leaders are poised as the next generation of movers, innovators, and entrepreneurs in our respective fields. I left with definitive takeaways from the plenary session that featured remarks by Hon. Norman Mineta, and honored the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and the late Mr. Wally Yonamine. Other highlights were our leadership development programming sessions with Mr. James Higa, Ms. Emily Murase and Ms. Toko Serita.

Looking forward, I believe Emerging Leaders are uniquely well-positioned in the talent pipeline. We can take strategic action in creating opportunities for our successors in the TOMODACHI Generation—specifically by contributing to leadership development through educational and cultural exchange. With the guidance and support of the USJC community, it’s our inherent duty to ensure that the alliance between our two countries remains robust and resilient, enabling the U.S.-Japan relationship to continue advancing in a symbiotic and productive fashion.

The author (front row, third from left) with her fellow 2015 cohorts

Tohoku Trip Led by ELP Alumni

Many thanks to 2014 TOMODACHI Emerging Leader Lauren Ohata for the following article!

Together with Tohoku

-Two-day ELP-led USJC Member trip to the Tohoku region-

The group upon arrival at Ishinomaki Station, excited for the upcoming Tohoku adventure (The author is in the front row, third from left)

From November 11 to 12, fourteen USJC members and six friends of USJC traveled to the Tohoku region. The trip was led and organized by three USJC TOMODACHI Emerging Leader Program (ELP) 2014 Alumni. Together we experienced the local culture and people, seeing firsthand the progress that has been made in the recovery effort since the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Through the TOMODACHI Initiative, USJC has had a meaningful impact on the region in the years since the disaster. Today, USJC members, including current ELP and ELP alumni, continue to express a strong desire to assist Tohoku residents as they press on rebuilding their lives and communities.

When I, along with fellow 2014 ELP Alumni Mio Yamamoto and Jonathan Abbott, learned the 2015 Annual Conference would be held in Tokyo, Japan, we saw this as an opportunity for USJC Members to visit the Tohoku region. We appreciate the support USJC and the trip participants showed by entrusting us with this event.

The tsunami swept over the roof of this building, taking all but three survivors with it. The soil behind the structure will be the new ground level.

Working with World in Tohoku, the NPO led by Mio Yamamoto, and Women’s Eye, the NPO led by Megumi Ishimoto (an alumna of the 2013 TOMODACHI NPO Leadership Study Tour), we developed a schedule of site visits that took us through Ishinomaki and Minami Sanriku in Miyagi-ken, two of the areas most devastated by the tsunami. During the two days, we met fishermen, restaurant owners and shopkeepers reestablishing local businesses, and visited a shrine and senior center both working to restore normalcy for area residents. The group toured sites of both destruction and reconstruction, witnessing what has been for most a frustratingly slow rebuilding process. There was ample opportunity throughout to meet residents, who spoke of their past and present difficulties and joys, and gave us insight into what we can do to assist in the future.

USJC Members learned about the ongoing recovery of the local fishing industry and enjoyed fresh oysters and scallops

During the trip, we developed a deeper, more immediate sense of connection with Tohoku. We also understood better the important role the community has played for residents in both initially surviving the tsunami, and now, four years later, in maintaining the drive to rebuild and move forward. The residents we met asked us to bring home the stories of our experience for our families, friends and communities. We encourage everyone to visit the Tohoku region and remember the importance of and strength in community.

Community cafe staffed by local residents, including an 80 year old cook who was a fisherman before the tsunami. The cafe serves to provide jobs and a gathering place for the community.

The trip participants are working to identify and articulate further opportunities where USJC Members and friends can continue to support the efforts of those in Tohoku and contribute to sustainable rebuilding. If you have an interest in assisting the residents of the Tohoku region, please do not hesitate to contact Mio, Jonathan, me or any of the trip participants:

  • Mio Yamamoto, Cambridge, MA
  • David Boone, Chesapeake, VA
  • Meg Boone, Chesapeake, VA
  • Fujie Ohata, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lauren Ohata, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ronald Ohata, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sandra Sakamoto, Los Angeles, CA
  • Nolan Maehara, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sosha Mitsunaga, Minamisanriku, Japan
  • David Kenji Chang, New York, NY
  • Sumiko Ito, New York, NY
  • Yuki Kaneshige, New York, NY
  • Fred Katayama, New York, NY
  • Verne Naito, Portland, OR
  • Yasuko Tsuruta, Portland, OR
  • Steven Teraoka, San Francisco, CA
  • Jonathan Abbott, Tokyo, Japan
  • Sachiko Aoki, Tokyo, Japan
  • Janelle Sasaki, Tokyo, Japan
  • Megumi Ishimoto, Tome, Japan

We are also here as resources, should you wish to support the USJC TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). As a reminder, ELP is designed to encourage the younger generation of Japanese American leaders to act as a bridge in U.S.-Japan relations.

Lauren Ohata ([email protected])

For more photos, see Lauren’s Facebook post here.


Staffing Update: Farewell from USJC Development Director Georgette Furukawa-Martinez

Thank you, U.S.-Japan Council, for an amazing adventure! I cannot publicly disclose where my next adventure will take place, but can say that you will find out in the New Year. My last day with the Council is Friday, December 18, and my work with Development will be well taken care of under the leadership of Laura Winthrop Abbot (Senior Vice President), as well as Dana Fager (Development Coordinator), who recently joined us from the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston. I will miss working for the Council and with you as staff, but look forward to continue to be an active volunteer, Member, and ELP alumna. It was truly an honor and privilege to meet and work with such amazing leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship, something I could only do at USJC. I learned a lot from every experience and am ready to continue paying it forward as I grow professionally and as an individual; I hope to be as amazing as you all someday! Osewa ni narimashita and kongo tomo yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu!

Georgette Furukawa-Martinez, Development Director

Upcoming Events

Ongoing – “Allegiance” The Musical (New York, NY)

“An important show with a phenomenal cast, it deserves to be seen!” – Entertainment Weekly

When USJC Board of Councilors Member George Takei first envisioned the idea of a Japanese American themed musical back in 2008, he never knew if it would ever come to fruition. Seven years later, Allegiance is on Broadway and is loved by those who see it!

The musical is “inspired by true events”– and follows the story of the Kimuras, a Japanese American family dealing with a post-Pearl Harbor America. Allegiance touches on many aspects of the Japanese American condition during World War II– from fighting for the United States military, to protesting the internment, to keeping the family united in uncertain times.

Starring George Takei himself (known for his role in the original Star Trek series) and Lea Salonga (known for her performances both on Broadway and in Disney movies), this powerful performance should not be missed!

To learn more about the musical or to purchase tickets, please visit its website. The musical only runs through March, so make sure to reserve your tickets now!

Ongoing – Out of the Desert: Resilience and Memory in Japanese American Internment (New Haven, CT)

After more than a year of curatorial work, the exhibition “Out of the Desert: Resilience and Memory in Japanese American Internment” is now open at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library. This is Yale Library’s inaugural exhibition to draw from multiple archives across the university. It is also the first-ever exhibit centered on Asian American history.

The exhibit can be traced back to the 2013 USJC Annual Conference in Washington, DC. At the conference, USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa introduced Courtney Sato (ELP ’13) to Council Member Delphine Hirasuna, curator of the exhibit “The Art of Gaman.” After meeting Ms. Hirasuna, Ms. Sato began research to identify internment materials already housed in Yale’s collections. She quickly uncovered a vast but largely unknown collection of materials related to internment.

The work features a digital touchscreen exhibit that is live at outofthedesert.yale.edu. Visitors to the website can scroll through exhibit materials, including a copy of the 1943-1944 Manzanar High School Yearbook, engineering maps of Poston, correspondence between internees and Quaker activists, and handmade Junior Red Cross scrapbooks. The exhibition will run through February 26, 2016.

December 14 – Legacy of Japanese Americans in the U.S. Military (Washington, DC)

Starting December 14, the Embassy of Japan is celebrating Japanese American Appreciation Week to highlight the contributions of Japanese Americans to the United States. During this week, the Embassy will be hosting many events and seminars at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC).

On December 14 at 6:30pm, a panel titled “Legacy of Japanese Americans in the U.S. Military” will highlight the history of Japanese Americans and their service in the United States military. Ambassador Sasae is scheduled to present remarks, and the session will be moderated by USJC Member Col. Bruce Hollywood (retired). The panel includes two other USJC Members, Rear Admiral David Boone (retired) and Lt. Commander Janelle Kuroda.

To learn more about the panel and panelists, please visit the event page.

To register for the event, please do so here.

January 24 – JCAW Presents: Shinshun Matsuri 2016 (Washington, DC)

Looking for a way to ring in 2016? The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C. (JCAW) is holding a “Japanese New Year Celebration” this January.

The festival includes performances such as traditional dances, cultural games, origami and calligraphy workshops. Love food? The event boasts a large selection of Japanese foods from local restaurants, including zouni, takoyaki and oden. There will also be a mochi-making demonstration!

To view and download the event flyer, please click here. To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit the JCAW event page.



Working under the Executive Director of TOMODACHI, the Program Manager is responsible for helping to find, select, develop, manage, monitor and evaluate TOMODACHI programs, including managing relationships with implementing organizations. The Program Manager will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members in the implementation of this mission.

For more information and to apply, click here.