Multiple USJC members including U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) Board Member Steve Sakanashi (Matchbox Technologies, ELP ‘15), Council Leaders Debra Nakatomi (Nakatomi & Associates Inc., JALD ‘09), Ann Burroughs (Japanese American National Museum) and Masako Miki (Japanese American National Museum) participated in a symposium titled “Learning from the History of Japanese Americans: Hints to Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” on April 12.
The symposium, which was organized by Keidanren and the Keizai Koho Center with support from USJC (Japan) and the Japanese American National Museum addressed the urgent need to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in order to improve productivity and better business outcomes. The event yielded meaningful suggestions for companies promoting DEI through presentations and panel discussions about the history of Japanese Americans.
Ms. Miki delivered the keynote address, where she emphasized the importance of learning from the trials of Japanese Americans and working together to create an inclusive and equal society. She wrapped the keynote address by discussing the collective power individuals possess to assist in creating a better future for all.
Mr. Sakanashi, a fourth-generation Japanese American, emphasized the value of cross-cultural understanding and empathy by sharing the story of his great-grandfather who was detained by the FBI immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor and his family’s quest to demonstrate his allegiance to the nation and secure his release.
During the panel discussion, Ms. Burroughs discussed the hate crimes committed against Asian Americans in order to encourage incorporating diverse perspectives to overcome challenges and create opportunities. Ms. Nakatomi noted that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has required companies to make significant shifts in their cultural and strategic goals; she also highlighted the need for training to remove unconscious bias and promoted the need to keep learning. Mr. Sakanashi recognized the growing interest and understanding of Nikkei history and heritage among the younger generation through the work of the U.S.-Japan Council’s Japanese American Storytelling Program.
Panelists discussed the importance of fostering diversity and inclusion in the corporate world. The symposium provided an opportunity to learn from Japanese American history to deepen understanding of DEI.