U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 11th, 2019)

Mountain Region Celebrates Recent Successes of Leadership Programs

Many thanks to Council Leader Gil Asakawa for the photos and for contributing to the following article, and to the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver for hosting the event!

Kelly Yamasaki discusses the 2019 JALD trip

On March 29, USJC members and supporters in the Mountain region gathered in the residence of Consul General Midori Takeuchi. This event, called the USJC Leadership Forum, highlighted recent local alumni of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) Program and the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), and celebrated the importance of people-to-people relations between the United States and Japan.

Following welcome remarks by Consul General Takeuchi, Associate Tim Higashide (ELP ’14), Regional Chair of the Mountain Region, spoke on the importance of U.S.-Japan relations in terms of security, economics and politics. USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa also discussed the history of USJC, as well as the background of JALD, ELP and the Annual Conference.

Consul General Takeuchi (right) and Council Leader Derek Okubo enjoy the speeches

Kelly Yamasaki spoke about her JALD trip to Japan, from which she had returned only a few weeks prior. She called it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” and after discussing the many high-level meetings with Japanese leaders, said: “More importantly, I was able to make connections with people who I know I will be connected to for the rest of my life.”

USJC Associate Alyssa Nilemo (ELP ’18) talked about her ELP experience at the last Annual Conference in Tokyo. “ELP has helped me become a part of a national network of like-minded individuals who are passionate about building the Japanese American community and strengthening U.S.-Japan relations,” she said.

Alyssa Nilemo shows photos from the Emerging Leaders Program

The approximately 40 attendees then enjoyed a lively discussion over Oden, a Japanese winter stew that was perfect for the cold evening of rain and snow.


Japanese and American Students Hone Leadership Skills Together to Tackle Social Challenges

The opening event of the program welcomed leaders of affiliated organizations, including USJC Executive Vice President & COO Laura Winthrop Abbot (front row, second from right)

The Building the TOMODACHI Generation: Morgan Stanley Ambassadors Program successfully concluded in early March after two weeks of intense leadership training. Generously funded by Morgan Stanley, the program aims to deepen participants’ knowledge of cross-sector partnership models to address social challenges, promote teamwork between American and Japanese students, and to develop participants’ leadership skills. This year, the program welcomed 19 college students (12 Japanese and seven Americans), who participated in a series of lectures, panel discussions, site visits, and interactive discussion sessions with experienced professionals from government institutions, distinguished nonprofits, and corporate foundations, while enhancing their critical teamwork skills and cross-cultural understanding.

The participants learned about civil society during the first week of the program, and put their new knowledge into practice during the second week. They divided into three teams and developed proposals for new initiatives to leverage resources across civil society to address ongoing challenges in the Tohoku region.

Building skills at an outdoor adventure center

Before diving into their project development, the participants first built their teamwork and communication skills by engaging in a variety of challenges at an outdoor adventure center. “It allowed me to establish a real relationship with the Japanese students as we had to work together and depend on one another, so I can honestly say this experience benefitted our project development,” said Manuel Arrieta, a U.S. participant from the University of Puerto Rico.

Teamwork and creativity among the three project teams flourished, culminating with each team’s presentation of their proposals. In the end, Team Sakura was declared the winner. Their initiative, Farming for the Future: Transforming the Image of Agriculture with Technology, hopes to bring cutting-edge technologies to rice farming in rural areas of Japan like Yahaba, Iwate Prefecture, making the profession more appealing and lucrative to young people.

Teams discuss how to improve their proposals

Upon returning to Japan, the Japanese students attended a Debriefing Session and Reception hosted by Morgan Stanley. The participants heard from Chief Administrative Officer David Richards, and were greatly inspired after hearing the company’s passionate support of the program, and what was expected of them. The groups presented their projects once again, and during the Q&A session and reception that followed, deepened their learning through conversations with Morgan Stanley employees.

Reflecting on the program, Daisuke Kase of the University of Tsukuba commented, “By communicating with both Japanese and U.S. students who are interested in relations between the two countries, I was able to learn a lot and better understand the importance of addressing social problems from both global and local perspectives.”

This program was implemented in partnership with The Washington Center and the U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI).

Students present their proposals

Sumitomo Scholars Visit Washington, DC and New York City

The students enjoy a dinner with USJC members in Washington, DC

From March 24 to 28, three of the 10 Japanese university students who are studying in the United States through the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program visited Washington, DC and New York City. They gathered from their campuses across the country for a week-long leadership program hosted by the Sumitomo Corporation of America.

The students kicked off the program in New York. They participated in a discussion with Professor David Weinstein, Professor of the Japanese Economy, Director of Research at the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia University. Students also visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and watched a Broadway show followed by a special backstage tour.

Board Member Dave Boone takes a selfie with one of the students

The students later traveled to Washington, DC. Highlights of their time in DC included a tour of the U.S. Capitol, a visit to the Embassy of Japan, and dinner with USJC members. After the dinner, USJC Board Member David Boone took the students on an impromptu tour of the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, and spoke about the Japanese American experience.

After the spring semester, the Sumitomo Scholars will conclude their study abroad and return to their universities in Japan. Upon their return, the students will participate in a post-program presentation, which will reflect on what they learned in the United States and how they want to build upon that experience in the future.

Applications Open for the 2019 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program

At the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

Entering its seventh year, this exchange program provides participants with unique access to leaders in the U.S.-Japan arena, and the opportunity to broaden their perspectives to enhance work or initiatives in their professional fields. Ten American and ten Japanese young professionals will travel to one another’s countries for one week to engage as a group and meet with established and up-and-coming leaders from business and government.

The deadline to apply is April 18, 2019 for Japanese applicants (applications for American applicants have closed). For more information and to apply click here.


The following video is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Toshiki Nakashige (ELP ’18)


Click here or on the image above to hear Toshiki talk about his postdoctoral research at The Rockefeller University; combining his love of science, art and the humanities through his Scientist podcast; and his upcoming podcast, created with Council Leader Susan Hamaker, about “everywhere Japaneseness.”

Member News

Irene Hirano Inouye’s Thoughts on New Era in Yomiuri Shimbun

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was recently interviewed by Yomiuri Shimbun on developments in U.S.-Japan relations in the Heisei era, as well as changes that the new Reiwa era would bring. The article, in which she discusses aspects that include the growing diversity of Japanese Americans, appeared in the print newspaper on April 6. Excerpts of the interview can be found on Yomiuri’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter (in Japanese).



 Chief Operating Officer (Washington, DC)

The COO will work with the President, Executive Vice President, CFO and key executives of USJC to implement an operational strategy that strengthens the organization’s effectiveness and managerial controls across several functions. This includes Human Resources and Professional Development, IT and Digital Platforms, Administration, Financial Analysis, and the development and implementation of an Annual Operating Plan. The COO will ensure operational support of programmatic areas including regional networking; initiatives both in the U.S. and Japan; partnership development with government, business and non-government partners at the international, national and regional level; and in the expansion and development of an array of cross-cultural leadership development and educational programs between the U.S. and Japan.

Click here for more information about the position.


 Regional Manager, Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

The Regional Manager, Southern California will support regional efforts in the areas of activities and events; outreach and engagement of local Council Leaders, sponsors, and supporters; membership cultivation; as well as cross-department work related to programs, communications and development. This position will focus on supporting the 10th Annual Conference, which will be held in Los Angeles in early November 2019. The broader goal of the position is to expand the organization’s external and internal connections and network in Southern California.

Click here for more information about the position.


 TOMODACHI Alumni Coordinator (Tokyo, Japan)

The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) is looking for a qualified individual to support the TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program. The TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program serves to connect and empower the TOMODACHI Generation, individuals who have participated in TOMODACHI programs. We seek an individual who can assist the Alumni Manager and participate in various stages of engagement to support the next generation of leaders dedicated to the U.S.-Japan relationship. The individual hired for this position will need strong organizational and analytical skills and excellent attention to detail in order to integrate into our vibrant and passionate team.

Click here for more information about the position.

Intern (Washington, DC)

The intern will provide support for Programs and Communications on a part-time or full-time basis. Duties will consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization of and attendance at special events, outreach and communication, writing and translation (if able). This is an excellent internship for those hoping to gain experience in the programmatic, digital and strategic marketing and/or nonprofit fields. USJC’s internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations.

Click here for more information about the position.

Intern (Tokyo, Japan)

The TOMODACHI Initiative is seeking qualified interns on a part-time or full-time basis. This internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations. Duties generally consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization and attendance at special events, student outreach and communication, writing and translation (as able). Duties may be tailored to the intern’s interests. Interns will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members.

Click here for more information about the position.