Shin-Issei Leaders Discuss Their Identity and Roles in U.S.-Japan Relations

One of the U.S.-Japan Council’s (USJC) newly-formed member-led initiatives, the Shin-Issei group, held a formal kick-off event on March 9. This event brought together about 150 USJC Leaders and guests across the U.S. and Japan who identify themselves as Shin-Issei: the new generation of Issei Japanese Americans. The group was formed with a mission to contribute to USJC and the U.S.-Japan relationship with bilingual and bicultural competences.

The virtual launch event consisted of two sessions each made up of Shin-Issei Steering Committee members of diverse backgrounds – professionally, geographically, immigration status and in experience. Aya Iwasuji (NorCal), Ichiro Sekimitsu (HI), Toshiki Masaki (MI, JALD ’15) and Yuko Watanabe (WA, ELP ‘17) shared their life journeys and discussed what it meant to be a Shin-Issei during the first session, followed by a roundtable with Masami Izumida Tyson (TN), Tatsuki Tomita (NorCal), Vince Okada (HI) and Yumi Higashi (NY) that explored how the group could make unique contributions to help bridge the two nations. The event concluded with a short After Session, offered in both English and Japanese, where the participants discussed the dialogue and networked with one another.

“We hope to fill some gaps and partner with our colleagues at USJC, both through assisting with already-existing USJC programs and perhaps coming up with new, signature Shin-Issei ones,” said Masami. “We hope that we can offer a fresh perspective as the newest Japanese Americans.”

Building on the momentum, the group already has a hanami (花見)-themed virtual networking event lined up, which will take place on Friday, April 9  (U.S.) / Saturday, April 10 (Japan). Contact [email protected] if you are interested in joining this networking event and/or to stay connected with the group. 

Many thanks to Council Leader Yumi Higashi for this article.