U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (December 20th, 2017)

Farewell Message from Chairman Dennis Teranishi

Dennis Teranishi (center) with incoming Chair Phyllis Campbell (left) and USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye

As I reflect upon these three years serving as Chairman of the Board, I feel a mix of emotions.

I am proud of how this organization has grown in influence. I feel joy in having made many new friends, and have renewed respect for our members and supporters as some of the best and brightest people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I also feel a twinge of sadness that my time as Chairman has come to an end.

Building on the legacy of Founding Chairman Tom Iino and other founding board members, we’ve had substantial success in the past three years.

Thanks to our many sponsors, including Tom Watanabe, who gave us our first major endowment of $10 million, we’ve achieved greater financial sustainability. We also identified the importance of regional programs and structures. We expanded the activities of Governors’ Circle and held the immensely successful Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit. We continue to have a strong board, our overall membership has grown to 630 individuals, and we’ve increased our diversity.

Some of my most enjoyable experiences were witnessing a number of our over 50 TOMODACHI programs, which have included 6,700 participants to date. This year’s TOMODACHI Generation Summit, planned and executed entirely by alumni, was even stronger than last year.

It was exhilarating to welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a keynote speaker to our 2015 Annual Conference in Tokyo, which became the highlight of a year where we significantly expanded our presence in Japan. Our Annual Conference last year marked an expansion of our networks in Silicon Valley, and this year’s conference in Washington, DC once again showed our growth in prominence and scale.

I will remain on the USJC Board of Directors for another year, and will focus on building U.S.-Japan economic opportunities for small-to-medium sized companies, as well as strengthening prefecture-to-state relationships.

I look forward to the strong and compassionate leadership of Phyllis Campbell, our incoming Chair of the Board. I also look to our next-generation leaders to keep up the work of programs such as the Emerging Leaders Program and U-40 Summit, and to lead the Council in the coming years.

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as Chairman of the Board at USJC. I will always be grateful for this experience and look forward to all that lies ahead for our organization.

Thank you,
Dennis Teranishi

Recent Events

Twelfth Business Advisory Board Welcomes Daniel Tani

Irene Hirano Inouye giving updates about USJC events

The twelfth U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on December 4, welcoming Mr. Daniel Tani, former NASA astronaut and current faculty member of the American School in Japan (ASIJ), as a featured speaker.

The meeting opened with remarks from Scott Sato, Member of the USJC Board of Directors, and Masaaki Tanaka, Vice-Chair of the Board of Councilors, who has been leading the Council’s BAB activities in Japan.

As is customary for BAB events, a few special guests spoke prior to the keynote speech, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB members. Ms. Takako Ebata, Head of Government Affairs & Policy at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in Japan, and Council Leader James Minamoto, Senior Foreign Counsel at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, were among those who briefly discussed their roles in the context of the U.S.-Japan relations.

TOMODACHI alumni with Ms. Naoko Yamazaki (third from left), former NASA astronaut and speaker at the fourth BAB, and Mr. Garvey McIntosh (center), NASA attaché at the U.S. Embassy

Irene Hirano Inouye shared updates on USJC’s activities, including the 2017 Annual Conference last month, the Japan-Texas Economic Summit to be held in Houston from May 7 to 9 in 2018, and the 2018 Annual Conference to be held in Tokyo from November 8 to 9. She also introduced the five TOMODACHI alumni who were attending the event.

Mr. Tani speaking about his career and connections to Japan

Mr. Tani, a long-time USJC supporter and former NASA astronaut, began his speech by introducing the background of his parents, who as Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. He addressed the irony of how his parents were not trusted with cameras and radios by the U.S. government, but that, years later, the same government invested a lot of money into him learning about cameras and radios. He praised the United States for all the progress made since its dark past in WWII.

Mr. Tani then shared his exciting journey as an astronaut working for NASA until his retirement in 2012. He emphasized the solid connections he made while flying over Earth, as well as the experience of talking to his family while physically looking at Earth.

Mr. Tani said that upon his retirement, his connections with Japan were strengthened through USJC, which reinforced the importance of understanding new cultures. Keen to provide their children with a global perspective, the Tanis moved to Japan, and Mr. Tani joined the ASIJ faculty. As a middle school teacher, he sees more life in one day in a classroom than he saw in a year in an office. He and his family will be returning to the United States, but his journey to Japan was fulfilling, and he was glad to have had the opportunity to honor his grandparents and their roots.

Click here to see more photos from the 12th BAB event.

Japan Region Celebrates Year-End with Presentation by Kathy Matsui

The USJC Japan Region celebrated the year-end on December 13, with a presentation called “Outlook on Japan – 2017 and Beyond” by Kathy Matsui, followed by a reception at the Roppongi Hills Club.

Ms. Matsui discusses the Japanese economy

Japan Region Chair Russell Kawahara convened the event and introduced Ms. Matsui. He said that, while the rest of the world witnessed a great deal of instability during 2017, Japan had been relatively calm, as evidenced by Prime Minister Abe’s snap election in October. He said that the results of the election reaffirmed the three arrows of Abenomics: an easy monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reform.

Ms. Matsui and Mr. Kawahara

In addition to serving as the Chair of the Board of Councilors of USJC (Japan), Ms. Matsui is the Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs Japan, and a policy commentator for Japan’s Cabinet Office who coined the term “womenomics.” She did not disappoint the 50 USJC leaders, sponsor representatives and guests who had come to hear her speak. She explained clearly how, under Abenomics, Japan’s economy was growing steadily and making progress with respect to structural reforms and womenomics. While there is more to be done, her presentation struck a positive note on which to end the year and look towards the future with some optimism.

Guests mingling at the Roppongi Hills Club

To kick off the networking dinner, Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Paul Yonamine gave a toast. He complimented Ms. Matsui and made a moving pitch to support the 2018 Annual Conference in Tokyo. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to connect over dinner, while taking in the beautiful panoramic night view of Tokyo.

USJC thanks Board Member Russell Kawahara and Japan Region Planning Committee Member Yuko Kawahara for organizing this event.

2017 JWLI Program Presentations in Tokyo

On December 2, USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish hosted a session in Tokyo to report on the four-week Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) program, which was held in Boston. JWLI, which Ms. Fish founded in 2006, empowers Japanese women to become leaders and make positive social change and innovation in Japan. It is supported by USJC.

The 2017 JWLI Fellows talk about their experiences in Boston

The five 2017 JWLI Fellows shared the business lessons they learned at Babson College and talked about meeting the leaders of nonprofit organizations. The fellows also shared the “action plans” that they will implement now that they have returned to Japan. The event venue was filled with participants eager to learn about the JWLI program.

“The JWLI program truly is a life-changing experience,” said Saori Osu, a 2017 Fellow and the Representative Director of the Working Mothers Association of Japan.

JWLI is currently accepting applications for the 2018 Spring class. See below for more information.

DC Members Gather for Bonenkai


Members and supporters in the DC region, including Regional Chair Edson Mori and Vice Regional Chair David Boone, gathered on December 18 to celebrate the holiday season and the success of the 2017 Annual Conference last month (led by Host Committee Co-Chairs Bruce Hollywood and Mark Uyeda).


2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) Class Announced

Congratulations to the following individuals, who were selected to participate in the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD)! They will visit Tokyo and Yamaguchi Prefecture from March 2 to 10, 2018, after attending a pre-trip orientation in Los Angeles from February 2 to 3. For more information on JALD, please visit the program’s webpage (bios of the delegates will be posted soon).

  • Sheri Bryant (San Francisco, CA)
    Vice President, Strategic Business Development, Linden Lab
  • Darcy Endo-Omoto (Honolulu, HI)
    Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Hawaiian Electric Company
  • David Inoue (Washington, DC)
    Executive Director, Japanese American Citizens League
  • Denise Moriguchi (Seattle, WA)
    President & CEO, Uwajimaya, Inc.
  • Monica Okada Guzman (Mangilao, Guam)
    CEO, Managing Director, Galaide Group, LLC
  • David Ono (Los Angeles, CA)
    News Anchor, KABC-TV
  • Laurie Van Pelt (Waterford, MI)
    Director of Management & Budget, Oakland County, MI
  • Lisa Sakai (Chicago, IL)
    President & CEO, TransAgra International Inc.
  • June Taylor (Denver, CO)
    Executive Director and State Personnel Director, Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration
  • Chris T. Uehara (Portland, OR)
    Assistant Chief, Portland Police Bureau

Reflection from Wendy Takahisa (JALD ’17)

The following article is part of a year-long series by members of the 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD).


With pianist Masahiko Sato at a luncheon hosted by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
It has been almost ten months since I traveled to Japan as part of the 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD). Re-reading the report of our amazing trip brings back astonishing memories, and I find myself with an impossibly wide grin. Every meeting was an opportunity to learn and to build closer ties. We talked art, politics and business. We sang and ate and gaped in wonder at the beauty of Japan. We laughed and learned; we discussed the important issues of the day and the personal connections that drew us all to Japan.

With Prime Minister Abe

Since the trip, I have had several opportunities to extend my connection to USJC. Immediately upon my return, I attended a conference called “U.S.-Japan-Israel: Thriving Partners in a Changing World,” which was sponsored by USJC and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Asia Pacific Institute. Being both Japanese and Jewish, I was honored to give the closing remarks.

In May, I attended the USJC Reception featuring Stanley Bergman, Chairman and CEO, Henry Schein. In June, I spoke at a reception for potential USJC members that was hosted at the home of Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, a member of the 2016 JALD delegation. In July, the New York USJC community bid a fond farewell to Fumihito Shinohara, Vice Consul (Political Affairs) at the Consulate General of Japan in New York. This was especially bittersweet for me, as Fumihito was particularly helpful during my JALD application process. In August, I attended the USJC Potluck reception for the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program.

At the U.S.-Japan-Israel event in March, with (from left) Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi; David Harris, AJC CEO; Irene Hirano Inouye; Amir Sagie, Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York; and API Chair Jeffrey Stone

Also in August, Judge Sawako Gardner and I watched Judge Lynn Nakamoto receive the very prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. We three had worked together to author the 2017 JALD report. Meeting up in person, while celebrating with Lynn and her family, made for a great reunion.

Saving the best for last, at the 2017 USJC Annual Conference last month, I reconnected with eight(!) of my fellow 2017 delegates, and established and re-established many ties with members of the USJC community. All JALD classes sang a rousing version of Hey Jude to honor the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono. The conference reminded us of the importance of the people-to-people connections so central to the USJC mission.

Members of the 2017 JALD at the USJC Annual Conference last month

I echo the sentiments of all who have come before me. Being a member of JALD is a life-changing experience. I have an even greater appreciation of what it means to be a Japanese American. I have a better understanding of the importance of U.S.-Japan relations and how I might contribute. Lastly, I met an extraordinary group of individuals who will remain my friends for life. I am eternally grateful to Irene Hirano Inouye; Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Consul General of Japan in New York; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for supporting this phenomenal program.

2017 JALD Report Now Available!


Members of the 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation, who visited Tokyo and Kanazawa from March 3 to 11 this year, recently completed their report.


Support U.S.-Japan Leaders

There is no doubt that the U.S.-Japan Council’s greatest asset is our strong network of leaders. This was evident at the 2017 USJC Annual Conference last month. The conference was such a big success thanks to our members, generous sponsors and many supporters in government, business, academia and civil society.

The 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders were greeted warmly by ELP alumni at the 2017 USJC Annual Conference

Our supporters participate in USJC activities for many reasons. Some, like those participating in the Japanese American Leadership Delegation Program and the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), find lasting friends and resolution to a lifelong search for identity. Others find hope and confidence. Those who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake find new ways to give back to Tohoku through TOMODACHI programs. Other TOMODACHI participants enjoy a boost to their career when they meet other leaders working in U.S.-Japan relations.

Driven by passion and purpose, our members and supporters volunteer their time, mentor and host next-generation leaders, and organize regional activities like the immensely successful Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit.

At the Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, Mayor Bernard Carvalho of Kauai (right) sang the Japanese traditional song “Furusato” with the prefectural delegation from Hokkaido

Because of supporters like you, we are able to provide life-changing experiences, platforms for discussions, and an irreplaceable network of people. Thank you for your strong support in 2017.

So that we may continue to impact the lives of current and next-generation leaders in U.S.-Japan relations, please consider giving to us by clicking on the button below. We appreciate your support.

Staffing Update: Farewell Message from Development Manager Dana Fager

As my time on staff at the U.S.-Japan Council draws to a close with the end of 2017, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone with whom I have had the opportunity to work over the past two years. It has been a pleasure to serve USJC’s very generous sponsors and donors as a member of the Development team. Through your support, I have witnessed how sincere partnerships with dedicated, invested partners can positively impact the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship. Working with USJC’s incredibly accomplished members, I have come to know an inspiring group of leaders and mentors. It has been an honor to learn so much from all of you, and I hope I was able to give as much as I have received through this enriching experience. Genuine, heartfelt relationships have an incredible power that extends far beyond those immediately involved to benefit the greater good. It is my wish that USJC can continue to harness this power to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship in the coming years.

Watanabe Scholarship: 2018 Applications Opening Soon and 2017-18 Scholar Highlights!

Applications for the 2018-19 U.S.-Japan Council Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Program will be available soon! This program provides financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students for a semester or year-long study abroad program in either the United States or Japan. A generous endowment gift of $10 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe to USJC makes it possible to award scholarships to students for whom study abroad would not be possible without financial support. Beginning this year, scholarships will be awarded to both American and Japanese undergraduate students who are pursuing international study in either the United States or Japan.

For information on eligibility, timeline and application requirements, please see this page.

Click here or on the image above to see video messages from the 2017-18 Watanabe Scholars!

Annual Conference Updates

2017 Annual Conference Wrap Up Video Now Available!

2017 is coming to a close, and one of our favorite moments from this year was the 2017 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Whether or not you were able to join us, see the excitement and energy through this video!


Looking for more videos from the conference? Check out our 2017 Annual Conference YouTube playlist.

In Memoriam

We are very saddened to share that Captain Spencer Abbot, the husband of USJC Executive Vice President and COO Laura Winthrop Abbot, has passed away.

A fourth-generation naval officer, Captain Abbot’s career included serving as Commanding Officer of the VFA-27 “Royal Maces” in Atsugi, Japan. He also served as an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in Tokyo and coordinated with the Japanese government following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

A beautiful memorial service was held at the U.S. Naval Academy (from which Captain Abbot graduated) in Annapolis, MD, on December 14. Family members and friends, including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, gave eulogies. Several USJC members traveled from out of town to attend, including Board Members Atsuko Fish, Gary Moriwaki and Susan Morita, and Council Leader Suzanne Basalla. Many officials from the Embassy of Japan were also in attendance.

We extend our deepest condolences to Laura and her family, and thank everyone in the USJC community for their strong support.

Member News

Janelle Sasaki and Yuta Hasumi Present at Hays Gender Diversity Event

Council Leader Janelle Sasaki and Associate Yuta Hasumi served as panelists at the Hays Asia Gender Diversity Event on November 30 in Tokyo. Hays is a professional and skilled recruitment company that supports the advancement of women in the workplace. The annual event with the theme of “Women and Men Agree: Gender Diversity is Good for Business but Few Women are at the Top” attracted 100+ business and Human Resources leaders from both multinational and domestic companies in Japan.

Janelle Sasaki (second from left), Yuta Hasumi (right) and other panelists discuss the benefits of gender diversity

The goal of the event was to share the findings of the 2017 Asia Gender Diversity Report, followed by an engaging panel discussion with gender diversity and legal experts. The findings revealed a clear link between diversity and business success. The interactive panel discussion highlighted the importance of discussing the benefits for business with all levels of the organization, creating meaningful career opportunities for women and discouraging gender bias. About half of the audience members were men, and the panelists recognized them for their attendance and shared best practices on male champions in supporting the career advancement of women in Japan.

Lori Matsukawa’s Multimedia Piece Further Highlights Recovery Efforts in Fukushima

Council Leader Lori Matsukawa’s piece about her recent trip to Fukushima has been expanded with additional multimedia content. Many thanks to Associate Mio Yamamoto, Co-Founder and Managing Director of World in Tohoku, for the following introduction!

In October 2017, twelve leaders from the United States and Japan participated in the Cross-Border Learning Journey hosted by WIT. They visited social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations in Fukushima and explored collaborative opportunities across different sectors and countries. During the one-week Journey, participants from New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo were very much inspired by the time spent with the social entrepreneurs and local people, who are creating a sustainable and resilient civil society despite the tremendous adversity. We hope to keep strengthening the mutually supportive and inspiring relationship, which emerged out of the Journey, to make the world a better place. I hope you will enjoy the following wonderful story written by one of the participants, Council Leader Lori Matsukawa:


Upcoming Events

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through December 8, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History

In February, 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.

U.S.-Japan-Israel Innovation Summit: Emerging Partnerships & Opportunities


When: February 5, 2018
Where: Silicon Valley (TBC)

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Asia Pacific Institute and USJC, in partnership with The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP) and IJ Advisors Ltd. (IJA), will hold an event to discuss U.S.-Japan-Israel trilateral opportunities in emerging technology sectors, venture capitalist investment and public-private partnerships. Japanese and Israeli government and business speakers will share their stories of successful partnerships, as well as the opportunities and innovation in Silicon Valley that have led to breakthrough technologies and services. Industries may include AI/robotics, cybersecurity, FinTech and more. A networking reception will follow the event.

U.S.-Japan-Israel on the Global Stage: Opportunities for the Olympic and Paralympic Games


When: February 6, 2018
Where: Los Angeles (venue TBC)

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Asia Pacific Institute and USJC, in partnership with The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), will hold an event to discuss U.S.-Japan-Israel trilateral collaboration in connection to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With Japan hosting the Games in 2020 and Los Angeles hosting shortly after in 2028, existing partnerships and future ones will shape the success of both events. Speakers will include government officials and industry experts from all three countries who will explore areas of collaboration in emerging technology, security, public-private partnerships and more. A networking reception will follow the event.

For more information and to register, please visit the event page.

​JWLI Spring Applications Now Open

Applications for the ​Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (​JWLI​)​ Spring Program are now open! JWLI​​ looks forward to reviewing applications from enthusiastic women leaders in Japan. For more information, please visit this page. ​JWLI is led by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish and supported by USJC​​.

Registration Now Open for the Japan-Texas Economic Summit!

Registration is now open for the Japan-Texas Economic Summit, to be held at the Marriott Marquis Houston from May 7 to 9, 2018. Following the highly successful Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit in 2017, the Japan-Texas Economic Summit will bring together business leaders, investors, state and local officials, and economic development organizations from across the Lone Star State and Japan. Texas is a leading destination for foreign direct investment from Japan, and we will welcome government and business representatives from the Government of Japan and prefectures throughout the country to explore further opportunities to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the state of Texas.

Join us for what will be a momentous step forward in the Japan-Texas economic partnership! Please visit the event page to see more details and to register.


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.

TOMODACHI Program Manager (Tokyo)

Working under the direction of the Director of TOMODACHI Programs, the Program Manager is responsible for developing, executing, managing, monitoring and evaluating 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, TOMODACHI Initiative sponsors, and other key TOMODACHI team members in the implementation of this mission.

Click here for more information about the position.

TOMODACHI Program Coordinator (Tokyo)

The TOMODACHI Program Coordinator is responsible for providing administrative support in the development, coordination, and execution of TOMODACHI Initiative programs, directly assisting the Program Director and Program Manager, and collaborating with leaders, external stakeholders and other experts. The Program Coordinator will serve as the principal liaison between implementing partners and external constituencies on day-to-day programmatic issues.

Click here for more information about the position.