U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (February 14th, 2019)

2019 Japanese American Leadership Delegation Orientation

On February 1 and 2, members of the 2019 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) gathered in Los Angeles for an intensive, two-day orientation. The meetings were held at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and were facilitated by USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa and Consul Shigeru Kikuma of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles. The annual orientation introduces delegates to the program, host organizations and each other; provides an overview of issues important to the U.S.-Japan relationship; and prepares them for their trip to Japan.

The 2019 JALD delegation with Irene Hirano Inouye (right) and Consul Kikuma (left) at JANM

On February 1, Mitch Maki (JALD ’02) led the group on an in-depth tour of JANM’s permanent exhibition, Common Ground, the Heart of Community. Hideki Hara, Director of the Japan Foundation Los Angeles, welcomed the delegates, and USJC Board Member Yuko Kaifu provided an overview of current social issues and Japanese business etiquette. In the evening, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Chiba and his wife Yuko hosted the delegates, along with several local JALD alumni, for a welcome dinner at their residence. The dinner allowed current and former participants to meet, and for alumni to share stories and advice with the new class.

On February 2, Consul General Chiba presented a briefing on U.S.-Japan relations. USJC Board Member and JALD alumnus David Boone followed with a presentation on security in the Asia Pacific region. Along with Mr. Boone, program alumni Sheri Bryant, David Ono, Stan Koyanagi and Debra Nakatomi shared their experiences and advice with the new class.

JALD delegates look on as David Boone (JALD ’17) gives a presentation

That evening, the Japanese Business Association of Southern California (JBA) hosted a lively networking dinner at the Miyako Hotel in Little Tokyo. The delegates enjoyed meeting JBA members at this event that concluded the orientation. We would like to offer our thanks to the Los Angeles Consulate and JBA for their gracious hospitality and continued friendship. Special thanks as well to all the presenters who participated in the orientation.

2019 JALD delegate Britt Yamamoto takes a selfie with fellow delegates

The 2019 delegation comprises 10 leaders in business, academia, government, nonprofit, and legal sectors from Honolulu, Hawaii; Seattle, Washington; Meridian, Idaho; Fresno, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Gering, Nebraska; Dearborn, Michigan; Bennington, Vermont; and Springfield, Virginia, who are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to furthering relationships between Japanese Americans and Japan.

The group will travel to Tokyo and Kumamoto from March 1 to 9, where they will meet with top business and government officials and participate in a symposium co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. In its 19th year, the trip provides an opportunity for Japanese American leaders to deepen their understanding of Japan, and promotes the value of sustained people-to-people relationships as a critical factor in assuring the long-term success of U.S.-Japan relations.

Click here for more photos. More information and delegate biographies can be found at https://www.usjapancouncil.org/2019-japanese-american-leadership-delegation/.

Recent Events

“Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” Speakers Meet USJC Members and Supporters

Ambassador Shimanouchi speaking at American University during the “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” program

On February 13, USJC hosted a dinner welcoming four individuals who are visiting Washington, DC on a “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” program. This program, sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, brings a group of Japanese citizens with diverse expertise to various U.S. cities, where they discuss issues that are important to U.S.-Japan relations, as well as recent developments in Japan. The four individuals were Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi, who has served in DC, Miami, Spain and Brazil over the course of his diplomatic career; Dr. Fumio Ota, Vice Admiral (ret.) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force; Ms. Megumi Inoue, who has worked in international business development in multiple countries; and Ms. Yui Ozaki, an undergraduate student at Keio University.

About 20 people attended the dinner, including USJC members and supporters. Ambassador Shimanouchi made brief remarks about how the United States holds personal importance to him. His father was Japanese American, and he himself spent part of his childhood in Washington, DC. Ambassador Shimanouchi also shared how important it is for people to meet face-to-face and become acquainted with each other, as with this program.

Laura Winthrop Abbot, Executive Vice President and COO of USJC, introduced USJC’s mission and activities, and spoke about the importance of people-to-people ties. The visitors and other attendees enjoyed learning about each other, and exchanged contact information to stay in touch in the future.

Ms. Ozaki discussing the impact of Operation Tomodachi, in relation to the support she received from American friends following the Great East Japan Earthquake

Earlier that day, the four individuals spoke at an event co-sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan and the Office of International Programs at the American University School of International Service (SIS). The discussion was moderated by Dr. Quansheng Zhao, Director of the Center for Asian Studies at SIS. Ambassador Shimanouchi spoke about current issues in Japan, such as the aging population, TPP, and Prime Minister Abe’s close relationship with President Trump; Vice Admiral Ota discussed the importance of the U.S.-Japan security alliance; Ms. Inoue shared the difference in Japanese and American business cultures; and Ms. Ozaki spoke about the support she received from American friends following the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as the importance of paying it forward. Vice Admiral Ota also gave a demonstration of iaido, a Japanese martial art.

Vice Admiral Ota demonstrating several forms of iaido

New Year’s Social in Tokyo

Many thanks to USJC(Japan) Board Member Russell Kawahara and Associate Yuki Inoue for the following article and photo!


On February 6, USJC members and friends in the Japan Region gathered at Aloha Amigos Harajuku to kick off the new year. This was a time of reunion and great conversation with old and new friends, accompanied with a strange Hawaiian-Mexican fusion taste and a nicely chilled basket of Corona beers. Clinking bottles with a “Kanpai” toast at every table, it was a great opportunity to get together. More than 20 members and guests participated, including many who were new to USJC. Some guests expressed pleasant surprise to discover the warm and welcoming USJC community in the midst of Tokyo. USJC Japan Board Members Russell Kawahara and Royanne Doi came out to support the event and make welcoming remarks. With Japan entering a new era, and USJC celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, USJC members in the Japan Region are determined to continue building a strong U.S.-Japan relationship. USJC wishes to thank Yuki Inoue, Kenji Negi, Russell Saito and the rest of the USJC U40 Japan Subcommittee for organizing this successful event.


Applications Open for the TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellowship


The TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellowship is a scholarship program managed by the TOMODACHI Initiative. This scholarship program supports those who aspire to be globally-oriented business executives or fashion designers in the future as they study abroad at graduate design schools in the United States.

Eligible applicants are Japanese citizens who have been accepted to either the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York (FIT), or Parsons The New School for Design, School of Fashion (Parsons). The scholarship provides up to $90,000 for FIT, and up to $150,000 for Parsons.

Application guidelines are available through each school. Please apply directly to the respective schools. For more details, please click here.


The following video is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Alyssa Nilemo (ELP ’18)


Click here or on the image above to hear about the similarities between Alyssa’s yoga practice and her professional development, and how ELP taught her the importance of “making the ask.”


Watanabe Scholarship: 2019 Applications Due Soon!

Applications for the 2019-20 U.S.-Japan Council Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Program are due in three days! 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. 2019 marks the second year to support American students studying abroad in Japan, and the fourth year for Japanese students studying abroad in the United States.

For information on eligibility and how to apply, please click here. The deadline to apply is February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm.

Upcoming Events

Trilateral Japan, U.S., and Israel Advancements in Artificial Intelligence for the Aging and Healthcare: A Dialogue with Industry and Academic Experts

When: February 25, 2019 at 6:00pm
Where: Asia Society Texas Center (Houston, TX)

Incredible changes underway in the medtech industry will shape the future of healthcare and aging populations as Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to unlock new possibilities for safety and efficiency. Join us for a panel discussion on the pioneer nations in AI and medtech — Japan, the United States, and Israel — as our expert speakers will address areas of trilateral cooperation, as well as major innovations on the horizon.

USJC is a co-organizer of this event. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

The Future of AI & Healthcare: the U.S., Japan, and Israel

When: February 26, 2019 at 5:30pm-8:00pm
Where: The Idea Center at Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)

Japan, the United States, and Israel lead the world in technological innovation in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and medtech. Join us as a panel of experts examine the benefits and opportunities for trilateral cooperation, the societal impacts to be expected, as well as potential problems and solutions.

USJC is a co-organizer of this event. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

Trilateral Japan-U.S.-Israel Advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics

When: February 28, 2019 at 6:30pm-8:00pm
Where: Greenberg Traurig LLP (Atlanta, GA)

Partnerships and investments between the United States, Japan, and Israel are transforming societies across the globe and creating a more interconnected world. Join us for a panel discussion featuring government, private sector and academic experts who will discuss challenges to overcome and opportunities for trilateral collaboration, as AI integrates further into society and our everyday lives.

USJC is a co-organizer of this event. For more information and to register, click here.

Chiura Obata: An American Modern

(Image: Chiura Obata, Grand Canyon, May 15th, 1940. Collection of Amber and Richard Sakai.)

When: Ongoing through March 10, 2019
Where: Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art (Okayama, Japan)

Chiura Obata (1885–1975) was born in Ibara City and studied nihonga, known as Japanese-style paintings. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1903. During WWII, Obata and his family were incarcerated at the Tanforan detention center in California and the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah; he established art schools at both sites.

The Chiura Obata exhibition first opened in the United States, and will now be presented in Okayama. Around 140 of Obata’s works will be on display, including various kinds of works such as nihonga, watercolour, sumi-e and woodblock. Tickets for the exhibit are required. For more information, please see details on the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art website (in Japanese), or download the flier here. (General information on hours, admission fees and how to access the museum is available in English here.)

An American Dream

When: March 15, 2019 at 7pm – 10pm
Where: Harris Theater (Chicago, IL)

Set during World War II, this opera explores the lives of two women: a Japanese American forced to leave her home, and a German Jewish immigrant preoccupied by those she left behind. In its Seattle Opera world premiere, it was called “a heart-wrenching opera… eloquent and moving” by The Seattle Times. Join us for the Lyric premiere of a contemporary American chamber opera. Performances at 7pm on Friday, March 15 and Sunday, March 17.

For more information, click here.


Intern (Washington, DC)

The intern will provide support for Programs and Communications on a part-time or full-time basis. Duties will consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization of and attendance at special events, outreach and communication, writing and translation (if able). This is an excellent internship for those hoping to gain experience in the programmatic, digital and strategic marketing and/or nonprofit fields. USJC’s internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations.

Click here for more information about the position.

Intern (Tokyo, Japan)

The TOMODACHI Initiative is seeking qualified interns on a part-time or full-time basis. This internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations. Duties generally consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization and attendance at special events, student outreach and communication, writing and translation (as able). Duties may be tailored to the intern’s interests. Interns will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members.

Click here for more information about the position.