U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (March 17th, 2016)

2016 Japanese American Leadership Delegation Returns Home

The ten delegates of the 2016 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program returned home on March 12 after a full week of meetings, discussions and networking opportunities with Japanese leaders. The purpose of the program is to build people-to-people relationships with Japanese leaders from various sectors of society in order to strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations.

The delegates enjoyed many fruitful discussions over meals

This year’s delegation visited Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture. The delegates participated in a symposium titled “Toward a Secure Society: Challenges in Diversity and Inclusion” (see the flier for more information), co-sponsored by USJC and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), with support from Kobe Shimbun, the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe, the Hyogo Prefectural Government, the Kobe City Government and the Hyogo International Association. It was very well received, with over 120 individuals in attendance, including the Kobe Vice Mayor and the Hyogo Prefecture Vice Governor. The group also toured the Shu-Shin-Kan Sake Brewery, as well as the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster.

The Symposium in Kobe featured (from left) Bruce Hollywood, Bruce Harrell and Kiyo Matsumoto

In Tokyo, the group met with Prime Minister Abe, with whom they discussed the strong relationship between Japanese Americans and Japan, the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and more. Irene Hirano Inouye thanked the Prime Minister for his speech at the 2015 USJC Annual Conference and said that USJC will continue to support Tohoku through TOMODACHI. (More information is available in the press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese) and a video of the discussion).

The delegates met with the Prime Minister (center, left side) in Tokyo

The delegates also met with many other individuals and organizations, including HIH Princess Takamado, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), Forum 21, Ambassador Masaharu Kohno, Japan Foundation CGP, the U.S. Embassy, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yohei Kono, Representative Taro Kono, the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Federation and other Diet members.

USJC Board Members Scott Sato, Ernest M. Higa, Paul Yonamine, as well as Council Leader Janelle Sasaki, shared their experience as Japanese Americans living and working in Japan with the delegation.

The delegates with USJC members Scott Sato, Ernie Higa, Janelle Sasaki and Paul Yonamine (all seated in front row)

The JALD program is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organized by USJC.

Click here to view more photos from the trip. Click here for more information on the program and biographies of all ten delegates.

Recent Events

Japanese and American Experts Share Lessons Learned from 3-11

Admiral Dennis Blair, Sasakawa USA’s Chairman and CEO (left) with Keynote Speaker Goshi Hosono, who was named Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accidents (right) (All photos by Joy Asico)

On March 8, USJC and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) USA co-hosted “The United States and Japan: Reassessing 3-11,” a full-day discussion on the disaster and the joint response to it.

The conference, held in Washington, DC, included panel discussions with American and Japanese experts and officials, most of whom were directly involved in the response to 3-11. Panel topics included recollections of the disaster by those present, a look at the initial response, details on the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, and lessons learned on disaster prevention and response.

Suzanne Basalla (second from left) spoke on a panel with (from left) Hideki Matsunaga, formerly of Japan Platform, an NGO; Amya Miller; LtGen. Burt Field, former Commander, USFJ; and Dr. Jeffrey Hornung, Fellow for the Security and Foreign Affairs Program at Sasakawa USA

USJC Executive Vice President & COO Suzanne Basalla spoke on a panel about initial reactions and decisions following the disaster. Based on her work as then-Senior Advisor to Ambassador Roos in U.S. Embassy Tokyo, she spoke about how the U.S. government supported Japan.

Ambassador John V. Roos was a featured speaker at the conference, and described the challenge of balancing his top responsibility of protecting the American population in Japan while fulfilling humanitarian needs.

Ambassador Roos shares the challenges he and the U.S. Embassy faced following the disaster

Amya Miller, special advisor to the City of Rikuzentakata, expressed her appreciation for events like this Conference that support the Tohoku region. She also read a letter from Mayor Futoshi Toba of Rikuzentakata, which conveys his appreciation to USJC and SPF USA, echoing his message during the 2015 USJC Annual Conference.

The TOMODACHI Initiative was mentioned often as a strong example of ongoing support for Tohoku.

This was one of many events commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Click here to read SPF USA’s full summary and to see video coverage of the event. Click here to see more photos.

Members and Supporters Gather in Seattle to Welcome TOMODACHI iLEAP Scholars

USJC, in partnership with iLEAP and the Nisei Veterans Committee, held a community gathering on March 10 in Seattle. This event marked the fifth anniversary of the Triple Disaster, and memorialized the resilience of both the people of Tohoku and the Japanese War veterans of World War II.

Council Leader Britt Yamamoto founded iLEAP and is its Executive Director

The program was attended by 60 people who were USJC members, iLEAP scholars participating in the TOMODACHI Social Innovation in Seattle (SIIS) Scholars Program, and supporters in the community. The evening started with guided tours of the Nisei Veterans’ Hall, followed by a program that reflected on the Tohoku disaster and the five years of progress.

Board Member Jill Nishi welcomed the guests on behalf of USJC, and two iLEAP scholars discussed their involvement in TOMODACHI. Both students gave a very moving speech about their experiences in Tohoku and their activities with the program.

Council Leader John Okamoto addresses the iLEAP Scholars participating in the TOMODACHI SIIS Program.

The TOMODACHI SIIS Program is a five-week leadership training program, and USJC members Lynn Hashimoto, Harold Taniguchi, John Okamoto, Diane Adachi and Colleen Fukui-Sketchley served as mentors to the young scholars. Council Leader John Okamoto talked about his role as a mentor and how this program created a great opportunity for member engagement.

The iLEAP Scholars share a laugh with Council Leader Harold Taniguchi (left)

USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa discussed the current state of USJC and invited everyone to attend the 2016 USJC Annual Conference in November. Council Leader Britt Yamamoto, who is also the Executive Director and Founder of iLEAP, closed the event by discussing the impact of developing a large group of future leaders in Japan.

An iLEAP Scholar with Council Leader Lori Whaley (right) and USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa (center)

This is the third year of the TOMODACHI SIIS Program, which aims to build a strong base of over 200 future leaders who can work together to affect positive change in Japan.

Farewell Reception for Consul General of Japan in Portland

A community farewell reception for Consul General Hiroshi Furusawa, who is leaving for Japan this month, was held on March 10 at Portland City Hall. It was well attended with representatives from a broad cross-section of elected officials, community and business leaders, and Japanese American leaders from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. CG Furusawa completes a three-year assignment based in Portland, Oregon. He is well known among JALD alumni members as he accompanied the 2007-2010 delegations on their trip to Japan when he served as Consul at the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.

Consul General Furusawa (third from left) with JALD alumni (from left) Michelle Sugahiro (JALD ’07), Kristen Dozono (’08), Grant Yoshihara (’04), Verne Naito (’13), Charlie Allcock (’10) and Elisa Dozono (’14)

During the reception, CG Furusawa was congratulated for his initiatives in Japanese language teaching at Oregon schools, support of people-to-people exchanges through over 50 sister city programs in his jurisdiction, new cultural engagements such as the “String of Three Nations” musical event featuring instruments from Japan, China and Korea, and his support for growing Japan-U.S. business engagements through trade and investments. Many who spoke at this reception commented on CG Furusawa’s dedication, compassion, thoughtfulness and persistence in his work, not only in his regular duties, but also in reaching out to diverse, non-traditional communities where previous ties did not exist. Charlie Allcock (JALD ’10) emcee’d the reception.

JETs and JET Alumni’s Contributions to Tohoku Recovery Highlighted

On March 11, Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) USA and the JET Alumni Association of Washington, D.C. co-hosted a discussion on JET alumni’s contributions to recovery after 3-11, as well as a special screening of the documentary Tohoku Tomo.

Suzanne Basalla with Matthew Fuller (All photos by Joy Asico)

Matthew Fuller, a former Foreign Service Officer who was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Roos at the time of the disaster, spoke about how the Embassy gathered JET alumni after the disaster to rely on their network and knowledge of local communities. (Mr. Fuller himself is a JET alumnus who served in Aichi prefecture.)

His discussion touched upon TOMODACHI. “After 3.11, the U.S. Embassy asked JETs and JET alumni to come and discuss how they could provide sustainable support. And that’s what led to ideas like the TOMODACHI Initiative,” Mr. Fuller said. “Exchange programs like TOMODACHI give people opportunities and hope–and the JET program was part of the inspiration for that.” He further emphasized that the U.S. government can work more with JETs, by encouraging more Japanese students to consider studying abroad, for example.

USJC members and staff at the event included Council Leaders Dianne Fukami, Debra Nakatomi and John Tobe, and Associate Rei Tsuchiya

USJC Executive Vice President & COO Suzanne Basalla, who was Senior Advisor to Ambassador Roos and Mr. Fuller’s colleague at the time, moderated the discussion. She noted examples of JET alumni continuing to connect the United States and Japan in unique ways, such as Shanti Shoji, Co-Founder and Vice President of Kizuna Across Cultures.

Tohoku Tomo was shown following an introduction by its Director and Producer (and JET alumnus) Wesley Julian. He detailed how he wanted to capture the voices of the “friends of Tohoku,” and that after creating the documentary, he was further motivated to create another one, The 113 Project.

Andy Anderson, father of Taylor Anderson, spoke at the reception

The reception that followed the screening featured speeches by Tamaki Tsukada, Minister of Communications and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Japan; Andy Anderson, Chairperson of The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund, created in honor of his daughter who died in the disaster; and Shelley Fredrickson, Founder of the Montgomery Dickson Cultural Fund, established in honor of her brother who died in the disaster. (TOMODACHI has programs that commemorate the memories of both Taylor and Montgomery.) SPF USA also supported USJC in promoting the TOMODACHI social media campaign.

Minister Tsukada was among the many individuals who participated in the TOMODACHI social media campaign

For more photos of the event, as well as a video, see this webpage on the SPF USA website.


TOMODACHI Reception Held in Tokyo; Memorandum of Cooperation Signed with the Government of Japan

(L-R) Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yamada; Jun Miura, Director of the Second North America Division, MOFA; Shota Eda, TOMODACHI alumnus; Akane Meguro, TOMODACHI alumna; U.S. Embassy Tokyo Charge d’Affairs Jason P. Hyland; Irene Hirano Inouye

On March 4, the TOMODACHI Initiative hosted a reception to commemorate the fifth year since the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the reception titled “Remembering 3.11—Five Years Later,” the TOMODACHI Initiative and its partners announced further support for the rebuilding of Tohoku and the fostering of next generation leaders.

The event featured a signing ceremony for the “Memorandum of Cooperation on Enhanced Partnership in Support of the TOMODACHI Initiative Between the Government of Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council” with Miki Yamada, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), representing the Government of Japan, and Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC President. The Memorandum formally established the relationship between TOMODACHI and MOFA—a relationship which has already existed unofficially for several years. In conjunction with this, MOFA appointed Ambassador Masaharu Kohno as the Government of Japan’s Senior Advisor to the TOMODACHI Initiative.

Irene Hirano Inouye (left) and Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yamada (right) sign the Memorandum of Cooperation between USJC and the Government of Japan

Prior to the signing ceremony, a roundtable discussion was held with TOMODACHI alumni from Tohoku, representatives from the Government of Japan and the U.S. Embassy, and Irene Hirano Inouye. Topics included the progress made in rebuilding Tohoku, the activities and impact of TOMODACHI to date, and the roles of the young people from Tohoku and beyond who will become future leaders.

Since TOMODACHI’s establishment in 2012, there have been over 4,600 program participants, with over 2,600 from the Tohoku region.

Fumiya Otani, an alumnus of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program and the TOMODACHI Summer Softbank Leadership Program, discusses his experience abroad

The reception was attended by approximately 200 guests, including representatives of companies that contributed to and have partnered with TOMODACHI. U.S. Embassy Tokyo Charge d’Affairs Jason P. Hyland, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yamada, and Irene Hirano Inouye spoke at the reception. Yorihiko Kojima, Chairman of the Board for Mitsubishi Corporation (and Member of the USJC Board of Councilors), spoke on behalf of the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges, which just renewed its support to Tohoku. TOMODACHI alumnus Fumiya Otani from Iwate prefecture shared what he learned in the United States. To conclude the program, Caitie McDermott, representing TOMODACHI alumni from America, recited a poem she wrote regarding the strength and resilience of the people from Tohoku.

To read more about the reception, see this full summary on the TOMODACHI website. To see more photos from the reception, the roundtable and the signing ceremony, click here.

Guests at the reception, Dave Spector (left) and Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors Paul Yonamine (right), exchange business cards

TOMODACHI and USJC Commemorate Fifth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

March 11, 2016 marked five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. The anniversary serves as a time to reflect on those who have lost their lives, the progress made in the recovery of Tohoku, as well as how we can further support the region and its youth. USJC and the TOMODACHI Initiative have hosted or supported many events, some of which are detailed in this newsletter. Please see below for a message from USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, and information about other events held around the United States and Japan:

  • TOMODACHI Generation Global Leadership Academy 2016 (March 4-6, 2016) – TOMODACHI alumni from Tohoku reflected on the recovery achieved in the past five years, and discussed goals for the next five years and beyond. Click here to see photos. Click here or on the image below to see TOMODACHI alumna Caitie McDermott, who flew to Tokyo from Washington, DC, perform her poem at this year’s Global Leadership Academy.

Member News

Nobuko Saito Cleary Receives Foreign Minister’s Commendation


On February 11, Council Leader Nobuko Saito Cleary received the Foreign Minister’s Commendation from Consul General of Japan in San Francisco Jun Yamada. Ms. Saito Cleary received the award for her contribution in promoting Japanese business and Japanese culture in America. She serves as a Board Member of the Japan Society of Northern California.

Upon receiving the award, Ms. Saito Cleary said: “It was a profound decision for me to leave Japan 48 years ago to study English . . . However, I am extremely lucky to be [receiving this] award . . . I think I helped build a bridge between the U.S. and Japan, and that my bridge will become even bigger and stronger with all of my friends’ help and support.”

Upcoming Events

March 23 – 5th Anniversary Commemoration for Tohoku: Tohoku, 5 Years After (Boston, MA)

When: March 23, 2016 at 6pm – 8:30pm
Where: Christian Science Center, Reflection Hall 235 Huntington Avenue, Boston


Four expert panelists will provide an update on the situation in Tohoku over the past five years. Speakers include Mayor Kimiaki Toda of Ofunato and USJC Senior Vice President Laura Winthrop Abbot. The panel will be followed by a musical tribute by Japanese students from Fukushima currently studying on the TOMODACHI Suntory Music Scholarship Fund at the Berklee College of Music. This is a USJC event, organized by Board Member Atsuko Fish in cooperation with the Fish Family Foundation.

For more information, please see this flier. Register for the event here.

April 3 – Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta (Boston, MA)

To commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the Tohoku disaster, the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta will travel to Boston to perform at the city’s Symphony Hall. The orchestra was created by students of Fukushima high schools who found music to be an essential vehicle for recovery in the immediate aftermath of 3/11. The students performed at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2014 and gave a performance at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in August 2015 which was attended by the Empress. The organizer for this event, Mr. Peter Grilli, is a USJC Friend of the Council. TOMODACHI and the U.S. Embassy are both contributing funds to this program, which includes a series of exchanges for the Fukushima youth in Boston from March 24 to April 4.

For more information, please see this webpage. Tickets are available here.



USJC seeks a talented, dynamic individual for a newly-created position of Executive Director, U.S.-Japan Council (Japan). The Executive Director will provide leadership and oversight of the Council’s general programs and activities and of the TOMODACHI Initiative. This will include responsibility for the implementation of program goals and objectives, providing leadership and oversight of program development and management, fundraising, communications and operations. The Executive Director will be based in Tokyo and manage the staff in Japan and will work closely with the U.S.-Japan Council (U.S.) staff in the United States.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.


USJC is seeking a full-time Executive Director for the Council’s newest initiative, the Silicon Valley – Japan Platform (SVJP). The Executive Director position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC’s Silicon Valley Project, including: office management; executive and organizational support for the Executive Director, Chairman and Executive Committee, SVJP; and general administrative support duties. Travel, especially between Japan and Silicon Valley, is expected.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.