U.S.-Japan Council Member Newsletter (April 16th, 2015)

USJC Members Mentor and Advise Participants of the 2015 TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference in Silicon Valley

Council Member Tasha Yorozu (left) speaking to the conference participants

During the weekend of April 10 to 12, the first TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference took place. This marked the beginning of a series of regional conferences that brings together Japanese and American undergraduate and graduate students interested in U.S.-Japan relations, for a program that includes leadership training, skills building and informative panel discussions. The 30 participants included 14 Japanese students currently studying at a U.S. college or university, 13 Americans, and three international students representing Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. USJC Members, most of them based in Northern California, supported the program in a variety of ways.

(Left to right) Ms. Hirano Inouye, Mr. Wakita, Ambassador Roos

The event began with an orientation and informal small group dinners on Friday night with representatives of Daiwa House California and the Daiwa House Industry Headquarters in Tokyo. Saturday’s first session kicked off with an armchair discussion with Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos and the Consul General of San Francisco Masato Watanabe about the past, present and future of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Daiwa House California President Takeshi Wakita welcomed the students to the conference and encouraged them to make the most of the opportunity. The second session featured a roundtable discussion with Member of the Board of Councilors Hiro Ogawa, Council Members Britt Yamamoto and Darren Kimura, and guest Lisa Katayama to talk about how entrepreneurial thinking has shaped their lives. Although Mr. Kimura stated that he “probably wouldn’t hire [his] 20-year-old self,” he made it clear that features such as personal character, passion and perseverance are what he looks for in his employees. Mr. Ogawa said that “no one knows everything, and so it is important to surround oneself with people who have the knowledge you lack and who can support you, most especially family.”

(Left to right) Mr. Ogawa, Mr. Kimura, Ms. Katayama and Mr. Yamamoto

In the afternoon, students participated in a round robin with leaders from a variety of fields to hear about their career paths, especially in terms of how to transition from college to the professional world. Council Members Rona Tison, Tasha Yorozu and Yoriko Kishimoto joined guests Eugene Yi and John Nylin as speakers. Council Member Emily Murase gave the students a crash course in networking and self-presentation, as well as a challenge to collect the most business cards during the reception that followed. USJC Members, guests and supporters came to the reception to network and celebrate the students. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye gave brief remarks, recognizing the ten representatives of Daiwa House who were present, followed by a toast by Council Member Susan Muranishi.

The final day of the conference began with a lecture by Dr. Daniel Okimoto, Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, about Japanese Americans as well as the rise of Silicon Valley. Many of the Japanese participants said that the conference helped build their confidence. All of the students were impressed by the caliber of speakers and guests. Even if they attended the same school, many of the students did not know each other before coming, and were happy to have made new connections: a group from UC Berkeley, for example, decided to get together for a barbeque upon returning to campus. The students said they are excited to continue to participate in U.S.-Japan related activities in the region and beyond.


See more photos from the conference here.

Other Recent Events

Board Member Fred Katayama Moderates Japan Society Event – Soon to Air on NHK World

Mr. Katayama (left) and Mr. Emmott (right) (Photo courtesy of Japan Society)

On April 2, Member of the USJC Board of Directors Fred Katayama moderated a Japan Society event titled “The Sun Also Rises?: Japan’s Potential in The Post-Crisis Global Economy” in New York.

The panelists were Mr. Bill Emmott (Journalist; former Editor-in-Chief, The Economist), Mr. Jesper Koll (Japan Strategist) and Mr. Hiroyuki Fujita (Founder, President & CEO, Quality Electrodynamics). At this sold-out event, the speakers discussed the future role and strengths of Japan in the new global economy.

The event will air on NHK World’s Global Agenda. The following are the broadcast dates and times:

  • Tokyo: Saturday, April 25, 9:10a.m., 3:10p.m., 9:10p.m. / Sunday, April 26, 3:10a.m.
  • London: Saturday, April 25, 1:10a.m., 7:10a.m., 1:10p.m., 7:10p.m.
  • New York: Friday, April 24, 8:10p.m. / Saturday, April 25, 2:10a.m., 8:10a.m., 2:10p.m.
(Left to right) Mr. Katayama, Mr. Emmott, Mr. Koll and Mr. Fujita (Photo courtesy of Japan Society)

Click here to visit the NHK World website and see more photos. A news clip (in Japanese) covering the event is also available here.

Board Member Soichiro Fukutake Helps Showcase Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Artistic Journey

On April 2, the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum opened a new major exhibition, “The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi.”

Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Strong Woman with Child, 1925, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation (Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Kuniyoshi’s story reflects the complexity and challenges of the Japanese experience in America during his lifetime (1889-1953). Kuniyoshi emigrated to America from Okayama at the age of 17, and became a major New York City modernist, drawing on American folk art, Japanese design and iconography, and European modernism. Kuniyoshi self-identified as an American artist, while recognizing the role of his Japanese origins in his identity and art. Immigration laws prevented him from becoming a citizen, and during WWII he was classified as an “enemy alien” even as he contributed his art to support the U.S. Office of War Information.

As Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae noted in his remarks at the opening reception, the inclusion of Kuniyoshi’s work as an American artist in the museum was a validation of Kuniyoshi’s life’s work and contributions. At the same event, the Smithsonian honored Soichiro Fukutake, Member of the U.S.-Japan Council Board of Councilors, for his major support of the book and exhibition, his generosity in lending artworks from the Fukutake Collection in Okayama, and his long advocacy for this artist. The exhibit is open through August 30th, and we encourage you all to visit and learn about this unique Japanese American story.

For more information, please visit the American Art Museum webpage detailing this exhibit.


2015 Annual Conference registration is live!

The U.S.-Japan Council is pleased to announce that the registration site for the 2015 Annual Conference is live. This year’s Conference will be held from November 9 to 10 in Tokyo, Japan at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, with select Board Member activities occurring at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu. Special reservation rates are available at three Tokyu Hotels properties in the local Tokyo area. American Airlines is the official airline of the U.S.-Japan Council and is the only airline that allows you to check in two complimentary bags to Japan while offering competitively low rates. Please see the AA link below to make your airline reservations. IACE Travel is also offering special travel packages, local trips, rail passes and more.

Secure your attendance now while space is still available! Follow the links below and feel free to contact Mr. Shane Graves ([email protected]), Program Manager, for conference schedule and logistics questions.

Corporate Member & Annual Conference Sponsor Information
Annual Conference registration information and sponsorship benefits (as applicable) for Corporate Members and Annual Conference Sponsors will be sent soon. Please contact Ms. Georgette Furukawa-Martinez ([email protected]), Development Director, for sponsorship questions.

Annual Conference registration site

Tokyu Hotels reservation page
(please register for the conference or email [email protected] to receive the access code)

American Airlines

IACE Travel services page

Lastly, the most up-to-date Annual Conference information can be found on the USJC website.

We look forward to seeing you in Tokyo in November!

Upcoming Events

Apr. 17 – Stories from Tohoku Screening and Portland Membership Event (Portland)

  • Date & Time: Friday, April 17, 2015, 6:00p.m. (Light refreshments from 5:30p.m.)
  • Venue: Mercy Corps Aceh Room (45 SW Ankeny St., Portland, OR 97204)
  • Cost: Free

Please join USJC for this screening of Stories from Tohoku (produced by Council Members Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi), which captures the strength, resilience, grace and acceptance of the survivors of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Tohoku. Following the film, a short discussion will be held with the filmmakers and local members who visited Tohoku. Please click here to register.

Apr. 18-19 – Japan Festival Houston (Houston)

  • Date & Time: Saturday, April 18 (10:00a.m.-7:00p.m.) & Sunday, April 19, 2015 (10:00a.m.-5:00p.m.)
  • Venue: Hermann Park, Houston

With an attendance of over 25,000 guests annually, the Japan Festival has the mission of promoting Japanese and Japanese American traditions while bringing together the rich international profile of Houston and its diverse cultural communities. USJC is a sponsor of this event. Please click here to see the flier or visit the Japan Festival Houston website for more information.

Apr. 26 – Japan Festival Boston (Boston)

  • Date & Time: Sunday, April 26, 2015, 10:00a.m – 5:00p.m.
  • Venue: Boston Common

Back after years of success, Japan Festival Boston aims to continue this tradition and introducing Japanese culture in Boston. USJC is a sponsor of this event. Please visit the Japan Festival Boston website for more information.

May 13 – American History (After Hours) “Sushi for Sale” (Washington, DC)

  • Date & Time: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 6:00p.m – 8:30p.m.
  • Venue: Warner Bros. Theater

From the National Museum of American History: How did a Japanese delicacy become an American favorite? Explore the history of sushi in America with award-winning chef Kaz Okochi, Bonny Wolf of American Food Roots, and FoodStory founder Yoko Isassi. Experience sushi-making demonstrations, sake tastings, soy sauce sampling, objects on display, delicious sushi, Japanese-inspired food, and more. Visit the museum website for more information.


Executive Director, TOMODACHI Initiative

The U.S.-Japan Council is seeking a talented, dynamic individual for the position of Executive Director, TOMODACHI Initiative. The Executive Director of the TOMODACHI Initiative is responsible for the implementation of the goals and objectives of the initiative, providing leadership and oversight of program development and management, fundraising, communications and operations for TOMODACHI. The Executive Director will be based in Tokyo and manage the TOMODACHI staff in Japan (currently 8 people), and will work closely with the Senior Vice-President and U.S.-Japan Council staff in the United States. The Executive Director will have the primary responsibility for day-to-day liaising with the U.S. Embassy leadership and staff.

A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website.

Marketing and Communications Manager/Specialist, TOMODACHI Initiative

Working under the direction of the Executive Director of the TOMODACHI Initiative in Japan, the Marketing & Communications Manager/Specialist (exact title to be confirmed based on experience of the candidate) plays a critical role in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic marketing strategy to build and develop the profile and brand of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, recipients of support, other donors and the press. The Marketing & Communications Manager/Specialist will work closely with teams from the U.S.-Japan Council in the United States and Japan, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in the implementation of this mission. This position is offered for a one-year contract, with an option for renewal each year.

A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website.

Invitation Program for Japanese American Students 2015

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan will sponsor a group of five Japanese American high school students to travel to Japan from June 26 to July 7, 2015 for the opportunity to learn about Japan and to promote mutual understanding and exchanges between Japanese and Japanese American younger generations. Those with multiracial backgrounds and children of first generation Japanese immigrants (“shin issei”) are highly encouraged to apply. This is the seventh group of students to be invited for the program. The itinerary in Japan is scheduled to include a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tours of Tokyo and the Kansai area, and a homestay experience.

Applicants should submit materials to their local consulate general office, or for residents of the Washington DC area, the embassy. Please click here for more information. Application deadline is May 1, 2015.