Delegation of Japanese American Leaders Meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2018)

Tokyo, Japan – The 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) met with Prime Minister Abe on March 5 to discuss issues pertinent to the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship.

Prime Minister Abe welcomed the ten-member delegation and thanked U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) President Irene Hirano Inouye for demonstrating their continued support for Japan. The Prime Minister also emphasized that this was the 150th anniversary since Japanese Americans first arrived in Hawaii, and expressed his joy that this year’s delegates would visit Yamaguchi, his home prefecture. (For a summary of his speech, click here.) The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for his support of U.S.-Japan relations and of Japanese Americans. (More information is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Japanese) and a video (Japanese Government Internet TV) of the meeting).

They also met with Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who has spent time with every JALD class since the program’s inception in 2000. This was the first time that he met with delegates as the Foreign Minister, but as in years past, he brought along parliamentarians, and encouraged networking among Japanese and Japanese American leaders.

These meetings were a few of the highlights of the 2018 JALD program, which provides opportunities for Japanese Americans to establish a meaningful role in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. Other leaders they met in Tokyo included MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi; U.S. Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty; Ambassador Masaharu Kohno, Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe & Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East Peace; Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yohei Kono; and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), Forum 21, Japan Foundation CGP and the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship League.

The JALD group with Ambassador William Hagerty, U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
(Left to right) Monica Okada Guzman, Darcy Endo-Omoto, David Inoue, David Ono, Lisa Sakai, Ambassador Hagerty, Irene Hirano Inouye, Sheri Bryant, Chris Uehara, Denise Moriguchi, Laurie Van Pelt, June Taylor

In ​Yamaguchi Prefecture, the delegates participated in a symposium titled “The Japanese American Experience: Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first emigration​ ​from Japan to Hawaii,” co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), ​USJC and the Yamaguchi International Exchange Association, ​with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs​.​ Over 1​20 individuals attended the symposium, which discussed the journey of Japanese Americans ​(including Gannenmono, the first immigrants), the role of Japanese Americans in​ contemporary America, and how to promote diversity and inclusion in both Japan and the United States.​

The ten participants of the program are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to deepening ties between Japanese Americans and Japan. JALD is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and organized by the U.S.-Japan Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to building people-to-people relations between the United States and Japan. For more information, visit

The Symposium in Yamaguchi featured (from left) Darcy Endo-Omoto, David Ono and June Taylor, who discussed the Japanese American experience

2018 Delegates

  • Sheri Bryant (San Francisco, CA), Vice President, Strategic Business Development and Marketing, Linden Lab
  • Darcy Endo-Omoto (Honolulu, HI), Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Hawaiian Electric Company
  • Monica Okada Guzman (Mangilao, Guam), CEO & Managing Director, Galaide Group, LLC
  • David Inoue (Washington, DC), Executive Director, Japanese American Citizens League
  • Denise Moriguchi (Seattle, WA), President & CEO, Uwajimaya, Inc.
  • David Ono (Los Angeles, CA), News Anchor, KABC-TV
  • Lisa Sakai (Chicago, IL), President & CEO, TransAgra International Inc.
  • June Taylor (Denver, CO), Executive Director and State Personnel Director, Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration
  • Chris Uehara (Portland, OR), Assistant Chief, Portland Police Bureau
  • Laurie Van Pelt (Oakland County, MI), Director of Management & Budget, Oakland County, Michigan

For more information about the program and the 2018 delegates, visit: