Introducing the Mineta Ambassadors Program: Strengthening U.S.-Japan Relations through Student Exchange

President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida launched the Mineta Ambassadors Program (MAP) during the April 10 state visit. This landmark initiative will bolster student exchange opportunities between Japan and the United States by supporting high school and university-level exchanges, with a focus on underserved communities.   

As President Biden said, “We also affirmed the science and education ties between Japan and the United States.  They reach into the high schools and universities, as well, where the Mineta Ambassadors Program exists, named for our dear friend Norm Mineta.  We’re going to invest in new student exchanges, help train the next generation of Japanese and American leaders.” You can read the full joint statement here.

The program’s name honors the legacy of former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, who was a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors when he passed away in 2022. In the spirit of Secretary Mineta’s legacy of public service, MAP will assist students with financial need who will “map” the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

“A man of immense integrity and character, Norm Mineta was a political pioneer who devoted himself to strengthening ties between the United States and Japan,” said U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who took a leading role in establishing MAP. “I was fortunate to have known Norm well and dedicated a room in the residence to the contributions made by Japanese Americans to the U.S.-Japan relationship. This program in his name will continue his legacy by giving American and Japanese students life-changing opportunities to forge friendships and share ideas, insights and ideals with one another.”

The program is made possible by supporters committed to the mission of U.S.-Japan student exchanges. Sponsors collectively raised over $11 million, quickly surpassing an original goal of $10 million – enabling more Japanese and American students to pursue international study. Top sponsors include Apple, The BlackRock Foundation and the Toshizo Watanabe Foundation, who each committed over $2 million toward the endowment. A full list of sponsors can be found here.  Additional donations are welcome and will support expanding the number of student exchanges available in this program. 

The U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) will administer the Mineta Ambassadors Program. The United States Embassy in Japan will serve as the U.S. government’s lead on guiding and supporting the program. U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and USJC will lead the annual selection of exchange programs for endowment funding.

By nurturing the next generation of global citizens through immersive experiences abroad, the Mineta Ambassadors Program is poised to shape a brighter, more inclusive future for both nations.