The U.S. – Japan Council Establishes the Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship for Study Abroad

WASHINGTON, DC – Based on a generous $10 million endowment gift from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe, President of the Toshizo Watanabe Foundation, the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) will award scholarships for study abroad between the United States and Japan. This is the largest gift USJC has ever received, and will enable the perpetual support of young people in cross-cultural education.

The U.S.-Japan Council Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship will provide financial assistance to undergraduate students for a term or year-long study abroad program in the United States or Japan. Mr. Watanabe’s gift funds scholarships for Japanese and American students with leadership potential, for whom study abroad would not be possible otherwise. For the inaugural program year of 2016-17, the scholarship will support Japanese undergraduate students who study in the United States. In future years, the scholarship will also support American students studying in Japan.

This scholarship is inspired in part by Mr. Watanabe’s own history. As a student, he received a scholarship administered by the Government of Japan. Later, he became the beneficiary of other awards, including a prestigious endowment that allowed him to attend Brandeis University. After his life-changing experience abroad, he established his career at Nikken, a Japanese company with significant international operations, including the United States. In the spirit of paying it forward, in late 2015, Mr. Watanabe contributed $10 million of his personal funds to USJC to establish this scholarship. He seeks to open exchange opportunities for students who may not otherwise have the chance to study abroad.

“I am impressed with the work of the U.S.-Japan Council, and applaud their focus on people-to-people relations,” Mr. Watanabe said. “I was able to study in the United States and accomplish my goals because those who funded and operated scholarships believed in my potential. I want to support students in the same way and give them the opportunity to see the world.”

“We are very grateful for Mr. Watanabe’s incredibly generous and lasting gift,” USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye said. “We look forward to supporting many Japanese and American students and fostering the next generation of leaders in U.S.-Japan relations.”

The Council will recruit, select and support scholarship recipients, welcoming them to the TOMODACHI Generation as future leaders and contributors to the U.S.-Japan relationship. The scholarship will support up to the full cost of attendance to the study abroad program of the applicant’s choice. For more information, please see:

About the U.S.-Japan Council

The U.S.-Japan Council is a non-profit educational organization fully dedicated to strengthening ties between the United States and Japan in a global context. By promoting people-to-people relationships through its innovative programs in networking and leadership, the Council, led by Japanese Americans, serves as a catalyst to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations. The Council was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington, DC with staff in California and Tokyo. In 2012, the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was created to support the administration of the TOMODACHI Initiative, and in 2013, it became a Public Interest Corporation (Koeki Zaidan Hojin). The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) maintains an office in Tokyo, Japan.