U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 5th, 2017)

Hawaii Members Welcome Prime Minister Abe

We thank USJC Associate Nate Gyotoku for providing the below article about the reception on December 26 welcoming Prime Minister Abe to Hawaii, and extend our appreciation to USJC Associate Nicole Velasco for the live report through social media.

For details on the Prime Minister’s historic visit to Pearl Harbor the following day, please see this statement by USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye.

Governor Ige and Prime Minister Abe, with Foreign Minister Kishida in the back (Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Twitter page)

On December 26, 2016, a capacity crowd at the Hawaii Convention Center welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister was in Hawaii to make a historic visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, but was first greeted by the people of the Aloha State. The sound of conch shells and an oli (a Hawaiian chant) blessing filled the ballroom, marking the start of the momentous occasion.

Prime Minister Abe opened his speech by sharing stories about his love and connection to Hawaii. He spoke about his aunt and uncle who relocated from Yamaguchi Prefecture and how he dreamed of visiting Hawaii as a young boy. He also spoke about the deep bonds that tie Japan and Hawaii together, and the lasting legacies of the Issei immigrants, Nisei veterans and other Japanese American influencers. He paid homage to important Japanese Americans from Hawaii like the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Former Governor George Ariyoshi. He closed his speech by saying that under the alliance of hope, Japan and the United States can continue to work together.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye (left) with Council Leader Lori Matsukawa at the reception

Governor David Ige spoke next, extending his gratitude to both Prime Minister Abe and President Barack Obama for making the historic joint visit to Pearl Harbor. He also spoke about his ancestral roots in Japan, his family’s plantation legacy, and how Hawaii’s history is deeply influenced by the Japanese. He echoed the message of peace and hope, reinforcing the importance of Hawaii’s role in U.S.-Japan relations.

USJC Chairman of the Board Dennis Teranishi (left) with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Governor George Ariyoshi, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, spoke about an experience he had in Occupied Japan. He met a starving young boy and gave him a sandwich. The boy immediately wrapped it up instead of eating it. Governor Ariyoshi, then a member of the Military Intelligence Service, urged him to eat the sandwich, but the boy replied that he wanted to share the food with his younger sister. Continuing his speech, Governor Ariyoshi commended the resilience of the Japanese after WWII and highlighted the core value of shikata ga nai, the Japanese phrase meaning “to maintain dignity in the face of unavoidable hardship.” He urged the crowd to continue strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, as it is a key relationship for the Pacific and the world.

The evening concluded with a performance by ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Prime Minister Abe took photos with each table in the ballroom. It was truly a special night to mark a historic visit to Pearl Harbor by the Prime Minister of Japan. The people of Hawaii are grateful for the Prime Minister’s visit and will always welcome him with gratitude and aloha.

Hawaii-based USJC members at the reception

We thank everyone who supported us in witnessing this historic event, as well as everyone who contributed photos and social media!

2017 Annual Conference: Save the Date!

U.S.-Japan Council 2017 Annual Conference
Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together
JW Marriott Washington, DC
November 13-14 (USJC Members Day on November 12)

The U.S.-Japan Council is pleased to announce that our 2017 Annual Conference will be held from November 13 to 14 (with Members Day on November 12) at the JW Marriott Washington, DC. The Conference will return to our nation’s capital, where we will discuss new developments under the Trump Administration. We will also exchange views on how to “get work done” to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship. Please save the date in your calendar to join us for what will be our best conference yet!


The following article is part of a year-long series by the 2016 class of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program.

Reflection from Erika Ninoyu (ELP 2016)

The author (first row, center) with fellow ELPs and friends in Chicago

Hello from Alaska!

As a new member of the U.S.-Japan Council through the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), I was surprised to instantly become immersed in an environment of respect, humility, ambition, honor and comfort. I should have been intimidated to meet and dine with such accomplished members and attendees of the USJC Annual Conference. Instead, I felt at ease thanks to their sense of camaraderie and openness. I was overwhelmingly humbled and proud to become part of such a unique and accomplished family.

In just four days of ELP and the Annual Conference, we—12 individuals from Japan and the United States with diverse passions and ambitions—formed a natural bond and understanding that would help us develop as leaders. Many leadership trainings require a lengthy commitment, but for ELP, four days is enough. This is due to the guidance of program organizers Kaz Maniwa and Allison Murata, Irene Hirano Inouye’s vision, sponsors that believe in the value of the program, and the rich network of USJC members and friends who actively empower the next generation beyond the timeframe of the conference. Most of all, I appreciated the level of trust and responsibility placed upon ELP members to engage with the USJC network, using the conference as a starting point.

The author (first row, third from left) with the ELP Class of 2016, Kaz and Allison

Although Alaska does not have a USJC chapter, I am continually connected to the ELP family and USJC members, thanks to the emphasis the Council places on people-to-people relations. I was recently reunited with ELP and other USJC and U40 members in Chicago over the holidays. It is comforting to know that I have USJC and ELP friends and mentors wherever I may travel.

USJC illustrates the value of strong networks, and I am encouraged to see that Alaska is included. As perhaps the only Alaskan member in USJC, I hope to serve and strengthen our organization in any way I can. Due to the strong geographic, economic and political ties, Alaska often works with Japan on a state level. As our nation’s gateway to Japan, Alaska has much to offer USJC and I look forward to our collaborative opportunities.

Thank you Irene, Kaz, Allison, the ELP Selection Committee, donors, sponsors and USJC members for believing in us. I know my fellow ELP colleagues and I will continue to promote friendships between the United States and Japan. I wish you a happy, healthy and productive New Year!


USJC Welcomes New Board Members


We are proud to welcome the following individuals. Please click here to see their bios.

  • Yuko Kaifu
    President, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
  • Norman Nakasone
    Senior Vice President, Product & e-Channel Management, Central Pacific Bank
  • David Nishida, USJC Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
  • Scott Sato
    President and COO, Pasona Inc.
  • Tasha Yorozu
    Managing Attorney, Yorozu Law Group, PC

Wally Tsuha (President, The Tsuha Foundation), previously USJC Treasurer, is now At-Large.

We would like to thank the outgoing Members of the USJC(US) Board of Directors Henry Ota, Jan Yanehiro and Ernie Higa. Mr. Higa will remain Chair of the USJC (Japan) Board of Directors.


We also recently welcomed the following individuals to the Board of Councilors.

  • Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita
    Founder, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Quality Electrodynamics
  • Masaharu Kohno
    Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe; Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East Peace
  • Toshizo Watanabe
    President, Toshizo Watanabe Foundation

Annual Conference 2016 – Wrap Up Video

2017 is in full-swing, but one of our favorite moments from 2016 was the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley.

Whether or not you were able to join us, relive the excitement and energy through this #‎USJCAC wrap-up video to see some of the speakers and members who attended.

Looking for more videos? Check out our 2016 Annual Conference video playlist on YouTube.

2017-18 Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship Application Now Open!

Applications are now open for the 2017-2018 Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship! This scholarship will support Japanese undergraduates studying abroad in the United States and will cover up to the full cost of attendance for a semester or year-long program. A generous endowment gift of $10 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe makes it possible to award scholarships to students for whom study abroad would not be possible without financial support. Click here for more information on qualifications and how to apply.

Upcoming Events

Fashion Business: Creating the Future

When: January 13, 2017 at 7pm
Where: The Japanese American Association of New York in New York, NY

Council Leader and President of Women’s Empowerment in Fashion Yoko Ohara will be speaking at JAANY (The Japanese American Association of New York) about her book, “Fashion Business: Creating the Future.” The event is co-sponsored by the Business Women’s Committee of JAA and Fashion Institute of Technology’s Japan Student Alumni Association. The event will be in Japanese and we encourage members and supporters who are interested in fashion, the future of business and women’s leadership to attend!

Details: $25 for JAA members; $30 for non-members; $20 for students
RSVP: [email protected]
Deadline to RSVP: Wednesday, January 11th

2017 Japanese New Year Celebration (Shinshun Matsuri)


When: January 29, 2017 at 11am – 3:30pm
Where: Washington Marriott Wardman Park

The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC (JCAW) and JCAW Foundation, Inc. will be hosting a Japanese New Year Celebration to ring in the new year! You will have the opportunity to enjoy performances, cultural games and activities, Japanese festival food and more.

Advance tickets ($8; credit card only) must be purchased by 5:00pm on Friday, January 27. Tickets are also available at the door ($10; cash only). Children 12 and under enter free.

For more information, please visit the event website.

Encore Performance: George Takei’s Allegiance on the Big Screen

When: February 19, 2017 at 12:55pm
Where: Select Movie Theaters

After an unprecedented cinematic premiere, George Takei’s Broadway musical Allegiance returns to cinemas nationwide for an encore on Sunday, February 19 at 12:55 p.m. local time. This date is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, known as the Day of Remembrance, which marked the beginning of the forced relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. Tickets go on sale on January 23. For more information, click here.

Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit

When: May 9-11, 2017
Where: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows (Big Island, Hawaii)

The Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, presented by USJC and the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT), is being held to foster tangible, near and long term economic opportunities among Japanese prefectures, the State of Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.

Summit attendees will explore opportunities spanning business, education, tourism and energy, and will forge one-on-one connections that will pave the way for future collaboration and trade.

The Summit will include Governors, government officials and business leaders. Governors from prefectures with State of Hawaii sister partnerships (Ehime, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Okinawa and Hokkaido) as well as those that are part of USJC’s “Governors’ Circle” (Oita, Okayama, Nagano and Shizuoka) have been invited.

For more information, please click here. Registration and lodging information is forthcoming.


Program Coordinator (Washington, DC)

USJC is seeking a Program Coordinator to support the Programs Team.

We seek a candidate who is committed to the goals of the organization and can bring enthusiasm and commitment to program coordination, primarily with signature programs such as the TOMODACHI Initiative, the Watanabe-endowed Scholarship, our Annual Conference, and the Council’s regional programs, as well as other leadership and diversity programs.

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

Click here for more information about the position. Click here to see a downloadable PDF. The application deadline is January 6, 2017.