Overview

The Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the U.S. to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, non-profit and cultural sectors. The trip also allows Japanese leaders to gain a greater understanding of multicultural America through the experiences of a diverse group of Japanese Americans. Upon their return, delegates collaborate with JALD alumni, the local consulates, the U.S.-Japan Council and local and national community organizations to continue strengthening ties between the U.S. and Japan.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) represented in the United States by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC and seventeen consulate general/consular offices is the sponsor of the program. The U.S.-Japan Council provides administration and organization for this program. The program began in 2000 and 227 delegates have participated to date.

2024 Delegation

Congratulations to the following individuals, who were selected to participate in the 2024 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD). After attending a pre-trip orientation in Los Angeles from January 29 to 30, they will visit Tokyo and Osaka from March 1 to 9. Welcome, 2024 JALD delegates!

Naomi Ostwald Kawamura serves as the Executive Director of Densho, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization and digital archives focused on documenting, preserving and educating the public on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Nikkei Place Foundation, a Japanese Canadian charity based in British Columbia, Canada. In 2021, she was elected the President of the Museum Education Roundtable, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit which publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Museum Education. Ms. Kawamura holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of British Columbia. Her scholarly research focuses on cultural memory practices in Japanese American and Japanese Canadian communities. A shin-nisei and daughter of a hibakusha, Ms. Kawamura was born and raised in San Diego, California.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Hiroshima and Kagoshima

Yoh Kawanami is a Director at Hawaiian Electric Company where he is responsible for theoperations of customer-sited energy resources to support the integration of renewable energy. For his research with water heaters as an electric grid resource, Mr. Kawanami received the prestigious EPRI Technology Transfer Award that recognizes industry innovators who transform research into applicable utility solutions. He serves on the boards of the U.S.-Japan Council and Pacific International Center of High-Technology Research (PICHTR), among others. Mr. Kawanami also volunteers for organizations ranging from education to U.S.-Japan relations to local community development. He is an alumnus of both the TOMODACHI Mitsui Leadership Program and a member of the Pacific Century Fellows Class of 2018.  Mr. Kawanami holds a Doctorate in Engineering Management from George Washington University where his thesis was on customer-sited renewable energy strategy in Japan. He also holds a Master’s in Engineering Management from Duke University and a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from University of Washington.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Iwate, paternal side from Nagasaki.

Derek Kenmotsu is a business leader in the tech industry and U.S. Army Green Beret. As the Head of Partnerships for AI/ML at the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), Mr. Kenmotsu plays a pivotal role in accelerating the U.S. military’s adoption of commercial technology, rapidly enhancing its capabilities. As the DIU Head of Asia-Pacific International Partnerships, he advises allies and partners in defense innovation and sources dual-use commercial technology from companies based in the Asia-Pacific region. Previously, he founded an education company in Vietnam that provided corporate training that transcended industries. His tenure at Apple saw him leading cross-functional teams, contributing to the development of various iPhone components. Beyond his corporate roles, Mr. Kenmotsu served as a U.S. Army Green Beret, advising the Commanding General of the Philippine Army Special Operations Command. He co-founded the U.S.-Japan Council’s Advanced Leadership Collective and serves on the Emerging Leaders Program Steering Committee. He holds an MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business where he was elected class president, and BS in International Relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Hiroshima and Kanagawa.

Darin Mano is a Salt Lake City Council Member, licensed architect and educator. He holds undergraduate degrees in Architecture and Psychology from the University of Utah and a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. Mr. Mano is a fourth generation Japanese American. He lived in Kyushu and Okinawa for two years where he learned to speak Japanese and developed a deep respect and love for the culture, people, art and food of Japan. As an architect, he owns and manages Uncommon Architects, a firm that aims to provide opportunities for gender and ethnically diverse professionals. Mr. Mano also taught architecture and urban design at the University of Utah for six years before becoming a Salt Lake City Council Member in 2020. He served as the 2023 Council Chair and is focused on solving the city’s housing crisis.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Shizuoka and Miyazaki.

Susan Miyagi McCormac is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of JapanCulture-NYC, an English-language website that introduces Japanese culture to New Yorkers and connects members of the Japanese and Japanese American community while promoting Japanese-related events. A 1990 graduate of the University of  North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in communications, she has had a long career in sports television, which has taken her to Tokyo to work Yankees games and the World Baseball Classic. Her career in baseball merged with her community involvement when the Japanese Consulate tapped her to moderate a panel discussion celebrating the 150th anniversary of baseball’s introduction to Japan, which featured Yomiuri Giants and New York Yankees legend Hideki Matsui. She is a Vice President of The Japanese American Association of New York, on the Board of Directors of the JET Alumni Association of New York and the Communications Committee of the New York Region of the U.S.-Japan Council. 

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Okinawa.

Tomoko Hosaka Mullaney is Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Business Council (USJBC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In her role, she leads a team of policy and program experts to promote U.S. business interests in Japan and strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. Established in 1971, the USJBC is the preeminent U.S.-based organization representing American companies that do business in Japan. Prior to joining the U.S. Chamber in 2022, Ms. Mullaney was Vice President at The Asia Group, a Washington, DC-based firm that provides strategic and business advisory services to the world’s leading companies. She supported clients across a variety of sectors, providing them with strategic advice and analysis of Japan’s complex political, regulatory and market landscape. Ms. Mullaney is also a former journalist and leader in media and technology with a decade of experience in Asia. She served as deputy economics editor at The Associated Press (AP) in Washington, DC She also worked as a business journalist in the AP’s Tokyo Bureau, where she was a key member of the team that covered the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. She was the AP’s lead economic writer in Japan during the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. Prior to her tenure at the AP, she worked as an editor at Dow Jones Newswires in Tokyo and has written for The Oregonian, The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ms. Mullaney is a Council Leader with the U.S.-Japan Council. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Tokyo’s Waseda University and graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. She was born in Japan and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where her parents owned a Japanese restaurant. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her family. 

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Ibaragi, paternal side from Kanagawa.

Anna Ninoyu is the owner and principal architect of METIS Design, an architecture design firm based in Chicago. Started with her partner and husband in 2017, the firm is a conduit for cultural exchange and innovative design that challenges established norms and generates novel ideas for the built environment. Her current clients include The University of Chicago Medicine, Related Midwest and the Japanese American Service Committee among others. Ms. Ninoyu has been a member of the U.S.-Japan Council since 2017 and currently serves as the Chair for the Midwest Region. She is also the Chair of the Board for Chicago Access Network TV, a non-for-profit organization celebrating 40 years of community access TV over 5 channels, providing media production training and education, and a community forum for elected officials and leaders accessible to all Chicagoans. In 2018 and 2019, as adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, she developed the curricula for the College of Architecture to teach a traveling seminar to Japan titled “Topics in Advanced Technology.” The seminar included visiting over 120 contemporary and traditional Japanese architecture and 50 UNESCO Heritage sites. She arranged group lectures for her students with well-known architects Tadao Ando, Tezuka Architects, Junya Ishigami + Associates, Kumiko Inui Architects and Kengo Kuma and construction companies such as Obayashi Corporation and Takenaka Corporation. The purpose of these interactions is to connect students to new environments and gain insight from diverse design and construction practices. She is currently collaborating with the School of the Art Institute’s College of Architecture (SAIC) and the Nara University of Education and Women’s College of Architecture to establish an architectural studio program that studies the intersection between vernacular Japanese temple carpentry and hi-tech computer-aided fabrication to create novel methods of construction. As a Japanese American female architect and business owner, Ms. Ninoyu strives to diversify and elevate design and construction through cultural and environmental exchange and advocacy to create a positive impact in the built environment and for the benefit of the next generation of aspiring designers and creative professionals.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Mie and Aichi.

Rob Ohno is the President and CEO of the ANNIKA Foundation. He is responsible for all aspects of the organization, which supports and empowers young women globally to pursue their dreams through the game of golf. The Foundation conducts tournaments, clinics and other development initiatives on five different continents and was founded by Annika Sorenstam, who is considered the greatest female golfer of all-time. Previously, Mr. Ohno served at PGA TOUR for twenty-four years, where he was a member of the senior leadership team. He led various areas of the global sponsorship and corporate partnership business. Later, he became Head of International Tours, where he oversaw professional golf tours in Latin America, Asia and Canada. Prior to TOUR, Mr. Ohno worked at American Golf Corporation, General Mills and Cambridge Associates in various sales, marketing and analyst capacities. Mr. Ohno graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Economics and received his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He played professional ice hockey in Germany for a year after college. He lives in Florida with his wife and has two sons. Mr. Ohno serves on the Boards of the AJGA and RBFF organizations. He has taken on volunteer leadership roles within the USJC and Asian Executive Network. He was formerly Board Chair/Vice Chair of Vicar’s Landing, the Ponte Vedra YMCA and Harvard Interviewing & Recruiting of North Florida.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Ehime.

George Tanaka is a managing director of U.S. Bank and leads their Japan Practice. With more than 25 years of banking experience, Mr. Tanaka is responsible for delivering programs that provide U.S. based banking solutions for globally mobile clients. He also collaborates closely with MUFG Bank in Japan and is responsible for developing and introducing new products and services tailored to the Asian consumer market. In this position, he is involved in coordinating marketing and outreach to the Japanese & Japanese American community. Prior to his current position, Mr. Tanaka worked as a senior vice president and Japanese Market Segment manager and has also held positions within the bank in Consumer Banking, Asian Corporate Banking and Business Banking. Mr. Tanaka is an active member of the community and serves on the boards of Go For Broke National Education Center, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Little Tokyo Service Center in the Los Angeles area and the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento. Mr. Tanaka has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Boston University and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. 

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Tokyo, paternal side from Shimane.

David Yoshimura is a partner at the international law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, his practice focuses on international commercial litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution, and he co-leads the firm’s international arbitration practice team. Faegre Drinker is an industry leader in full-service international and cross-border legal services. In addition to his dispute resolution practice, Mr. Yoshimura engages Faegre Drinker’s bespoke Japan Engagement Team to serve all legal needs of the firm’s many Japanese and Japan-affiliated business clients. The firm offers these clients solutions in employment immigration, mergers & acquisitions, intellectual property and all other areas of need. Mr. Yoshimura is deeply engaged with Japanese culture and heritage. He is the President and Board Chair of the Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI) and a Board Director of the Iowa Asian Alliance. Through these organizations, he fosters Iowa and Japan’s unique historical relationship (as Japan’s First sister city and sister state) and seeks to build up and maintain that interpersonal and economic friendship. He received his B.A. from Iowa State University and J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Kumamoto, paternal side from Hiroshima.

Background

The relationship between the U.S. and Japan is considered by many as the most important bilateral relationship in the world, and Japanese Americans are uniquely positioned to help shape it. The connections between Japanese and Japanese Americans are complex. While World War II played a major role in severing ties between Japanese Americans and Japan, today’s opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit are great and demand a renewed commitment to involving Japanese Americans in U.S.-Japan relations. In their May 2022 Joint Statement, Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden “paid tribute to the history, contributions and cultural heritage of Japanese Americans and concurred to engage next generation Japanese American leaders in the future Japan-U.S. cooperation.” (Joint Statement of the United States and Japan)

The Japanese American Leadership Delegation provides Japanese American leaders with the opportunity to become acquainted or further engaged with Japan and participate in discussions related to the role that Japanese Americans can play in addressing key issues that face both countries, now and in the future.

The first delegation was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to visit Japan in 2000.  It included third and fourth generation Japanese Americans selected from various professional fields including the educational, cultural, philanthropic, legal and political sectors.  Since the initial trip, delegations of Japanese American leaders from throughout the United States have visited Japan every year since 2002, except during the pandemic years (2020-2022).

Participants in this program have created an alumni network to ensure that the commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations is maintained.  A commitment to follow-up after the trip is a required part of the program.

Program Alumni

JALD alumni have created a network to ensure that the commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations is maintained. There have been JALD national reunions and several alumni groups have traveled back to Japan together to build on and sustain important relationships built on the program. Alumni of the program are invited and encouraged to join the U.S.-Japan Council’s international network of leaders and participate in Council programming and events.

Click here to read about the 2023 delegation’s trip to Japan. Click here for reports from previous classes.