U.S. and Japan Leaders Tackle Climate Crisis, Examine Sustainability Solutions at USJC’s Eleventh Annual Conference

USJC Conference Returns to Tokyo in First In-Person Gathering Since 2019, Focusing
on Bilateral Collaboration, Climate Crisis, Tech Innovation and Next Generation

October 28, 2022

TOKYO, Japan – On October 27-28, nearly 700 individuals joined the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) in Tokyo at their eleventh Annual Conference. As the first in-person conference since 2019 and the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, this 2022 gathering was held under the theme, “The Great Reconnect: Strengthening Alliances, Partnerships and Communities.” The event brought together regional, national and international leaders of diverse geographic and professional backgrounds to share insights and forward-focused ideas for a fast-changing world.

The climate crisis and solutions for sustainability took center stage, with political and business leaders exchanging strategies for environmental action. U.S Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel offered words on the value of the U.S.-Japan friendship at the morning plenary session and commented, “There is no greater relationship, friendship than U.S.-Japan relationship. It is central for the vision that we have.” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also commented, “It is crucial that Japan and the United States fulfill responsibility by working together for international order.

A panel discussion that followed with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Hawai’i Governor David Ige, discussed regional initiatives and the value of national and international cooperation. Climate experts also convened with business leaders to examine corporate efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable practices. A plenary session, “The Sustainable Future of Transportation,” featuring speakers that included Gill Pratt (Chief Scientist and Executive Fellow for Research of Toyota Motor Corporation, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Research Institute) and Jill Blickstein (Vice President of Sustainability, American Airlines) explored initiatives for greener travel. Closing plenary remarks were offered by Hironori Kamezawa (President & Group CEO, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.) and Jun Sawada (Chairman and Representative Member of the Board, NTT Corporation), who put social and climate action in the broader context of the business imperative of our times and the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Participants provided a leadership lens on diversity, equity, and social justice and post-pandemic work challenges and opportunities in a panel featuring Jasper Cheung (President, Amazon Japan) and Tsuyoshi Nagano (Chairman of the Board, Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.). Katrina Masumi Lake (Founder & Chairperson, Stitch Fix), Yuko Tashiro (Chairperson, Accordia Golf Co., Ltd.) and Rona Tison (Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations & PR, ITO EN, North America, Inc.) offered insights on gender equality, especially in male-dominated industries. Gender equality also took center stage in a panel on the documentary, MINK! That panel featuring Carissa Moore (Five X WSL World Champion, 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist) and a special video message from Naomi Osaka (tennis champion) discussed the empowerment of generations of women athletes. “Leadership and Mental Wellness” offered space for a candid discussion on issues of mental health.

Sessions also explored technology, science and innovation. “Digital Transformation to the Whole Community” featured Ayako Kameda (General Manager, Shell Energy Japan) and James Kuffner (CEO, Woven Planet Holdings, Inc.). James Higa (Managing Partner, Offline Ventures) moderated a panel discussion with artist Sputniko! (Hiro Ozaki) titled “Web 3.0 and NFT Generative Fine Art.”

Young and emerging leaders were bolstered through workshops and activities for participants of the TOMODACHI Initiative, recipients of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, and current and past cohorts of the Japanese American-focused Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). Additionally, a special program for select ELP alumni, titled ELP50, offered business exchanges and networking opportunities for participants in Tokyo prior to the conference. The Council’s founding president, Irene Hirano Inouye, who passed away in 2020, was remembered at the conference by both attendees and prominent speakers.

The full agenda, including a list of speakers, can be found here.

About the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC)
The U.S.-Japan Council develops and connects global leaders to create a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship. It is an organization whose members believe people-to-people relationships are a powerful way to bring together leaders in the United States and Japan to address and create solutions to mutual concerns. The Council is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational organization that was founded by a group of Japanese American leaders in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington, DC with staff in California, Hawaii and Tokyo. In 2012, the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was created and in 2013, it became a Public Interest Corporation (koeki zaidan hojin). The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) maintains an office in Tokyo, Japan.

General contact: [email protected]
English inquiries (U.S. Office):
Alison Aadland, Senior Communications Manager
[email protected]
Japanese inquiries (Tokyo Office):
Chieko Tashiro, Marketing Communications Manager
[email protected]