U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (July 10th, 2014)


USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye with moderator Michael Schiffer and panelists Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Frank Januzzi and Jeff Lowenstein

By Soohyun Yang, USJC Intern

On July 9, 2014, USJC partnered with the United States-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON) to host a public policy program and reception on Capitol Hill. Nearly 100 people attended, including a dozen USJC members and several Members of Congress who spoke at the two events. 

The policy program was themed on legislative exchanges and the U.S.-Japan relationship. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye opened the discussion by highlighting the significance of people-to-people exchange in all sectors of U.S.-Japan relations. The panel, which included Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), Frank Januzzi, President and the CEO of the Mansfield Foundation, and Jeff Lowenstein, Deputy Chief-of-Staff and Legislative Director for Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), was moderated by Michael Schiffer, Senior Advisor and Counselor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also paid a visit to voice his strong support for U.S.-Japan relations. 

During the panel discussion, Senator Harkin shared his personal testimony on how his repeated journey to Japan, as a navy pilot as well as a Senate on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, contributed to establishing friendships and commonalities across cultures. He indicated that U.S.-Japan legislative exchanges also have the potential to positively impact his constituents in Iowa. Senator Hirono, who is a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, voiced the critical role of funding in U.S.-Japan exchange programs and the importance of legislative participation in building U.S.-Japan relations. She also addressed women’s leadership in Japan, stating that Prime Minister Abe is taking the right steps towards greater female presence in the work force. Mr. Januzzi expressed his hope that future destinations of visits by Japanese Diet members would include regions besides Washington, DC, in order to showcase the diversity of the United States.

During the reception that followed, Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., impressed upon the audience the growing interest in U.S.-Japan relations within the legislature. He stated that 49 Members of Congress have visited Japan since the start of 2014. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), co-chair of the newly founded Japan Caucus, spoke how Japan is a critical ally in all areas of interest, such as security, peace and economic development, touching upon how his constituents greatly benefited from Toyota. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) also expressed her support for strong U.S.-Japan relations. The event concluded with a toast by USJC Vice Chair Henry Y. Ota, who has led many legislative exchanges with the organization.

Irene Hirano Inouye, Congressman Joaquin Castro and CULCON Secretary-General Paige Cottingham-Streater

See more photos from the event at: //www.flickr.com/photos/usjc/sets/72157645602916641/


The breakout session on Entrepreneurship & Business Culture will focus on the need in both the United States and Japan for entrepreneurial thinking in our cultures in order to remain vibrant economies with bright futures. Our four panelists will discuss areas where innovation and entrepreneurship are flourishing in local economies, capitalizing on these opportunities and how it all integrates into a strategic plan for local economies and individual companies. The panelists are:

  • Ms. Susan Yamada, Executive Director, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE), University of Hawaii at Manoa (moderator)
  • Amb. John V. Roos, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan & CEO, The Roos Group
  • Mr. Warren Haruki, President & CEO, Grove Farm Company, Inc.
  • Ms. Merle Aiko Okawara, Chairman, JC Comsa Corporation

Join us in Honolulu for this year’s Annual Conference, October 9-11!


As part of the U.S.-Japan Council’s Governors’ Circle initiative, USJC and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) will convene a Japan Governors’ Meeting in Silicon Valley.

A plenary session and networking reception/sake tasting will take place on Monday, July 28 from 2:00 to 7:30pm at Stanford University’s Arrillaga Alumni Center.

For more information and to register, visit bit.ly/GovCircle.



This month marks one year since the ELP class of 2013 found out we had been selected to join the U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. Since then, the connections we immediately established with tenured USJC Members and the new bonds created with our fellow ELP class have been extraordinary.

From day one, Council Members from the Midwest region, specifically in Chicago, have made me feel a part of the USJC family. Before attending the Annual Conference, we met for dinner as a chance to get to know each other and spend some quality time together. At the Conference in DC, it was great to see familiar faces as I attended sessions and listened to speakers. Shortly after the Conference, Members from Chicago put together a wonderful event to inform the educators, civic leaders, business people, parents and students from around the area about the TOMODACHI Initiative. With the goal of generating interest in hosting TOMODACHI participants from Japan in the Chicago area, as well as gaining support for TOMODACHI exchanges from schools, businesses and students and their families, it was an honor to hear USJC Executive Vice President Suzanne Basalla speak about TOMODACHI. The group in the Chicagoland area has also organized many group dinners, where we get together to catch up.

Alumni of the Emerging Leaders Program continue to keep in touch via email and social media. Being spread all across the country and world, it is always exciting to hear about promotions, engagements, moves and what is going well in everybody’s day to day life. We are all hoping to get together this fall in Honolulu for the USJC Annual Conference!

-Amy AnconaChicagoland Council Members and friends getting together for dinner


Ambassador Fujisaki and Dr. Rooks with LMU students

By Miyuki Sasada, USJC Intern

Led by USJC Member Dr. Curtiss T. Rooks, the second group of TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars–students of Loyola Marymount University (LMU)–completed their program last week. While in Japan, the students visited Sophia University, where they joined Japanese students in an exchange that included U.S. History Civil Rights Movement lectures by Dr. Rooks and Sophia University’s Dr. Kazuto Oshio. Below are a few comments from LMU students about Dr. Oshio’s lecture:

  • “When the African Americans came back from the war, they sought out equality, just like Senator Inouye when he returned from serving in the military . . . It never really registered in my mind how limited our views and perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement were. I feel like this class posed more questions that were thought-provoking as opposed to my regular classes that just present us with information to memorize.”
  • “It was interesting to learn about U.S. History outside the U.S. So often, we are biased and are taught about U.S. history through the eyes of an U.S. author. It was nice to see and learn a new perspective.”

USJC also provided opportunities for students to engage with Members and meet supporters of the U.S.-Japan relationship. With assistance from USJC Vice Chair Henry Y. Ota, the group met with Diet Members Keisuke Suzuki and Karen Makishima, and discussed a variety of topics ranging from Japanese citizens’ political participation to the exporting of culture and “Cool Japan” as a tool of diplomacy. 

The LMU students also had the opportunity to meet Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki (former Ambassador of Japan to the United States). In addition, with strong support from USJC Member Jim Minamoto, the students sat in on a career panel with USJC Board Member Royanne Doi, Members Michael Bosack and Janelle Sasaki, and Associate Member Kei Ashizawa, who discussed their experience as Japanese American professionals. 

The group expresses their full gratitude to the TOMODACHI Initiative and the Japan Foundation for making this travel possible. They appreciate being one of the schools selected as part of the Government of Japan’s KAKEHASHI Project. To learn more about their trip, visit their website or their Facebook page.

LMU Students with Dr. Rooks, Members Janelle Sasaki, Jim Minamoto and Kei Ashizawa, and TOMODACHI Program Manager Kaoru Utada



USJC is proud to be a cooperating organization in the sixth annual Global Organization for Leadership and Diversity (GOLD Symposium). “The Power of Inclusion: Viewing Diversity Through Different Lenses” will allow innovative and creative business executives, social entrepreneurs and artists share best practices and describe new possibilities for building a culture of inclusion. For more information and to register, visit the GOLD website at:


Over the last 14 years, JAVA has been scanning the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)’s documents pertaining to Japanese American internment, and World War II military service into a master database. The results of this endeavor, called the WWII Nisei Military Data Base, are hosted on the JAVA website (www.javadc.org/search.php), as documents are scanned and posted. The database is designed so researchers and family members can retrieve NARA documents about Nisei soldiers from anywhere in the world using a variety of search criteria including dates and key words. This endeavor is part of JAVA’s education mission to publicize the Japanese American experience during WWII.