2024 Japanese American Leadership Delegation Cohort Attends Pre-Trip Orientation in Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

On January 29-30, delegates of the 2024 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) gathered in Los Angeles for a two-day orientation. The meetings were held at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), and were facilitated by USJC President & CEO Suzanne Basalla, Director of External Relations Wendy Abe, Programs Manager Allison Murata, Consul ISHII Aya and Advisor for Policy & Partnerships USYAK Jennifer of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles. The annual orientation introduces delegates to the program, host organizations and each other; provides an overview of issues important to Japan and the U.S.-Japan relationship and prepares them for their trip to Japan.

On January 29, the delegation was greeted by USJC Co-Chair of the Board Susan Morita (Arnold & Porter, JALD ‘11). Henry Mitchell and Megan Murata from the Japan Foundation Los Angeles also welcomed the delegates and shared information about the Japan Foundation Los Angeles. Kristen Hayashi of JANM led the delegation through JANM’s permanent exhibition, Common Ground, the Heart of Community.  Legacy Council Member and former Board Member Yuko Kaifu provided an overview of current social issues and Japanese business etiquette. In the evening, the Japanese Business Association of Southern California (JBA) hosted a lively networking reception at the Miyako Hotel in Little Tokyo.  The reception provided an opportunity for the delegates to network with JBA members.

Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles and Mrs. Kenko Sone hosted the delegates, along with several local JALD alumni, for a welcome dinner at their residence. The dinner allowed current and former participants to meet and for alumni to share stories and advice with the new class. 

Photo Credit: Britt Yamamoto (iLeap, JALD ’19)

On January 30, Council Leader Britt Yamamoto (iLeap, JALD ‘19) facilitated a session titled “What is Japanese American Leadership?” The session was followed by Consul General SONE Kenko presenting a briefing on U.S.-Japan relations. Council Leader Phillip Lipscy (University of Toronto, ALC ‘23) provided a broad view of the current status of Japan politics and economics. JALD alumnus Debra Nakatomi (NakatomiPR, JALD ‘09) and USJC Board Member Mark Okada (Sycamore Tree Capital Partners, JALD ’23) reviewed key JALD messages. They also led a discussion on pre-trip expectations and offered tips and advice.  JALD ‘23 alumni George Kobayashi (Masuda Funai), Jeff Maloney (Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy), Mark Okada (Sycamore Tree Capital Partners), Calvin Terada (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Lori Teranishi (iQ360) and Audrey Yamamoto (The Asian American Foundation) joined the class for lunch for networking and shared their experiences and advice. 

The U.S.-Japan Council  would like to offer their thanks to the Los Angeles Consulate and JBA for their gracious hospitality and continued friendship. Special thanks as well to all the presenters who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in the orientation.

The 2024 delegation is comprised of 10 leaders in business, academia, government, non-profit and legal sectors from Los Angeles, California; San Mateo, California; Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; New York, New York; Salt Lake City, Utah; Washington D.C.; and Seattle, Washington who are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to furthering relationships between Japanese Americans and Japan.  

The group will travel to Osaka and Tokyo from March 1 – 9, 2024 where they will meet with top business and government officials and participate in a symposium in Osaka co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. In its 21st year, the trip provides an opportunity for Japanese American leaders to deepen their understanding of Japan and promotes the value of sustained people-to-people relationships as a critical factor in assuring long-term success of U.S. and Japan relations.

A list of delegates and their biographies can be found here.