U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 12th, 2018)

2017 USJC Annual Report Now Available!


The 2017 USJC Annual Report is now available! They have been mailed to members and sponsors, and a digital version is on our website here. We hope you will be proud of our collective accomplishments resulting in another successful year of impactful programs and events. A Japanese version of the report will be available soon.


Participants of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program Visit Washington, DC and New York


Fifty college students visited Washington, DC and New York City for a week from March 21 to 29, as part of the 2017-18 TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP).

This unique women’s mentorship program empowers female college students in four Japanese cities (Tokyo, Naha, Osaka and Fukuoka) through a series of leadership development workshops and one-on-one mentoring. In DC and NY, the students meet leaders from various sectors, learning about leadership and careers from a global perspective.

The DC portion included discussions with Irene Hirano Inouye and Susan Greenwell, Senior Vice President and Head of International Government Relations at MetLife, Inc.; workshops on presentation skills, networking and confidence building; a dinner with USJC members and supporters; a lunch with female Japanese diplomats; a panel discussion with Japanese women professionals organized by the Japan Institute for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (JSIE); a U.S. Capitol tour; and a “couples coffee” session where couples shared how they work as a team to pursue dual careers and have a fulfilling family life; and volunteering at the Capitol Area Food Bank, repackaging food to be distributed throughout the DC metro area.

Mayumi Uejima-Carr (center), President of TABLE FOR TWO USA, participated in the couples coffee with her family even though they were flying out for a vacation that day

In New York, they exchanged views on leadership with American students at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, and visited the NYC Tenement Museum. They also visited various businesses and organizations that use technology to bring communities together, including: Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit addressing public space challenges around the world; Slice Life, an app helping independent pizzerias compete with big pizza chains; CUNY Voices of NY, an online publication serving as a bridge between mainstream society and immigrant communities and communities of color; iEARN, a nonprofit network that enables educators and young people to participate in global virtual exchange; and Urban Future Lab, New York City’s hub for smart cities, clean energy and smart grid technology.

The students visit tech company Slice Life in NYC to learn about how they are using technology to help local businesses survive

During the final day of the trip, the students visited the MetLife headquarters in NYC and presented on the leadership traits required in a world in which constant change and disruption are inevitable. They received feedback from Dr. Cindy Pace, Assistant Vice President of Global Diversity & Inclusion at MetLife, Inc., and learned about new approaches to human resource management from Susan Podlogar, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer at MetLife, Inc.

Discussion topics during the trip included how to collaborate in a team, the power of network, the importance of mentorship and paying-it-forward, and how to become a versatile cross-cultural leader. The many meetings provided a comprehensive view on leadership, in terms of professions (from business to government to civil society), lifestyle (preventing burnout and balancing professional and personal lives), and other career choices. Many of the speakers commented that they were inspired by the ambitious and passionate students.

Council Leader Yuka Hayashi (left), reporter at The Wall Street Journal, was one of the many USJC members who spoke with the students

We extend our thanks to all the speakers and supporters, as well as MetLife, for making this program possible!

USJC Members in Silicon Valley Welcome TOMODACHI Entrepreneurs

​Many thanks to Associate Steve Sakanashi for the following article and photos!​

The TOMODACHI entrepreneurs with Kenta Takamori (back row, third from left) and Steve Sakanashi (back row, fourth from left)

From March 26 to 29, the winning startup teams of the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award traveled from Japan to Silicon Valley for a study tour. The tour aimed ​to ​support the top student startups in Japan by coordinating pitch meetings with founders and investors in Silicon Valley.

During this trip, which was led by USJC Associate Steve Sakanashi (ELP ’15), students also ​held meetings with USJC ​members, including ​Council Leaders ​Kenta Takamori (Executive Director of the ​Silicon ​V​alley ​Japan Platform), Kaz Maniwa (​Senior Vice President of USJC), ​Andrew and Marcus Ogawa​, and Associate Tim Koide (ELP ’11). Many of these meetings were hosted at Stanford University, thanks to the hospitality of Council Leader Gary Mukai and USJC Associates Rylan Sekiguchi (ELP ’17) and Naomi Funahashi ​​(ELP ’11).

Andrew Ogawa (center) and Marcus Ogawa (to the left of Andrew) discuss their experience with the young entrepreneurs

​The TOMODACHI entrepreneurs were ​also ​welcomed to a rooftop dinner in San Francisco, hosted by ​former USJC staff member Yuri Maruyama ​and ​USJC Associates ​Ellen Kamei (ELP ’15), Kevin Otsuka (ELP ’17), Derek Kenmotsu (ELP ’17) and Lindsey Sugino. The young entrepreneurs returned to Japan inspired and enlightened by their various meetings, ​and grateful to have discovered a USJC network that is ready to support them when they make the leap ​to the United States.

With Ellen Kamei (front row, left) and Derek Kenmotsu (front row, second from right) at the dinner hosted by USJC Associates and supporters

TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars Enjoy Cross-Cultural Engagement in Washington, DC and New York

Sumitomo Scholars engaging with DC high school students learning Japanese

In late March, five TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars visited Washington, DC and New York City as part of their spring leadership training. The visit enabled the scholars—Japanese university students studying in the United States through the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program—to meet and engage with leaders from a variety of sectors.

The scholars in New York with Professor Hugh Patrick, Director of the Columbia Business School’s Center on Japanese Economy and Business

While in Washington, DC, they met local high school students who are studying Japanese as part of Japanese Plus (an afterschool language program for DC public high school students that was inspired by the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program). Sumitomo Scholars formed small groups with the Japanese Plus students and engaged in discussions in Japanese and English. They found common ground on topics such as foreign language study, international study, and being a student in the United States. Both sides came away excited to continue developing the connections they made that day.

The scholars also took a tour of the U.S. Capitol

Sumitomo Scholars then met with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye. Irene shared the history of the TOMODACHI Initiative, the role of the corporate sector in addressing social issues and what leadership means at USJC. The scholars said that despite some challenges, they have really enjoyed the study abroad experience and improved their English skills. That evening, the scholars joined a dinner with young professionals in the DC area, including USJC Associates, and heard about their career paths and experiences.

Dinner with young professionals

Participants of the TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University Program Discuss How to Encourage More Women in the Sciences


The 2018 TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University Program concluded at the end of March, inspiring another cohort of 10 Japanese women in STEM fields.

The women conducted research at a Rice University lab connected to their major or field of interest, which ranged from aerospace engineering to astrophysics, physics, pharmaceuticals, biology and chemistry. During their four-week stay in Houston, they explored the community, attended the Houston Rodeo and listened to talks about the Japanese American experience in academia. They also visited the Houston Operations Center of the Dow Chemical Company (this program is generously funded by Dow Chemical Japan).

The program participants at the Houston Operations Center of Dow

For their fifth and final week, they visited Washington, DC and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. In DC, they visited the U.S. Department of Energy and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). They also sat down with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye to discuss their experience at Rice University. Much of the dialogue centered on ideas for increasing female representation and leadership in the STEM fields. Many came from universities where there are few other women among faculty or students in their departments. They also shared why they chose to major in science: family members in the sciences, opportunities to explore the sciences in high school and interest in the topic area were some examples. The women also shared the challenges they’ve overcome and what they learned during the program. Shoko Sano, who majors in space engineering at the University of Tokyo, said that her experience working at Rice’s Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab has helped her see how science and technology can benefit society.

Natsumi Komatsu, an alumna of the 2017 TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University Program, will be a speaker at the upcoming Japan-Texas Economic Summit.

Participants share their ambitions with Irene Hirano Inouye (left)


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Derek Kenmotsu (ELP ’17)

Identity. Community. Family. Gratitude. Impact. Though months have passed since the 2017 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference, these themes are ever present in my mind as a USJC ELP alumnus. It only took one day of bonding for our ELP class to become family and establish lifelong friendships. Our common threads of Japanese identity, drive to impact something larger than ourselves, belief that a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is mutually beneficial, and a fervent desire to find others who share these interests drew us together and made the experience profound.

ELP Class of 2017 with former U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos (seated, third from left), his wife Susie Roos (seated, third from right; Member of the USJC Board of Councilors), and Kaz Maniwa

I knew that I had found my home with ELP and USJC during our leadership development session with Council Leader Britt Yamamoto. I felt a strong connection with my ELP class as we shared how our Japanese heritage shaped our personal experiences, values and leadership philosophies. My identity as a Japanese American shaped my decision to serve in the U.S. Army. Like many other Japanese Americans, three generations of my family served in the U.S. military in three different wars. While circumstances differed between generations, the purpose remained the same: service to the nation and honor to the family.

My journey to USJC and ELP also came by way of military service. I served my final active duty assignment as a U.S. Army Special Forces Officer based in Okinawa. My missions covered a variety of objectives, one of which was ensuring that Japan remained secure. I felt proud to contribute to this mission. While on an assignment at the Special Operations Command Pacific in Hawaii, I met Associate Kim Haruki, who introduced me to the USJC community. Little did we know that we would become ELP classmates two years down the line.

Out on the town with the ELP family

Since exiting active duty, I have pursued a career in the tech industry. I now find purpose by supporting U.S.-Japan relations in Silicon Valley. I enjoy attending Silicon Valley Japan Platform Benkyokai events and hosting guests at Apple. Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with a group of motivated young entrepreneurs from Japan. They were part of a TOMODACHI program, led by fellow ELP alumnus Steve Sakanashi, that exposes students to innovation hubs in Silicon Valley. These students represented a promising future that will bring necessary innovation to Japanese industry and society.

TOMODACHI student entrepreneur trek to Silicon Valley

I’d like to express my appreciation to Allison Murata, Kaz Maniwa and Irene Hirano Inouye for the dedication and diligence that they commit to the ELP program. I am grateful for the sponsors who have generously contributed to bring this program to fruition and help build our community. I’m excited to have joined the USJC family and look forward to strengthening this bond for years to come!


Welcome to Ambassador Sugiyama and Mrs. Sugiyama

USJC extends a warm welcome to new Ambassador of Japan Shinsuke J. Sugiyama and Mrs. Yoko Sugiyama! Since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1977, Ambassador Sugiyama has assumed a variety of posts, including at the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Korea and the Embassy of Japan in Egypt. Most recently he served as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, then Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, before assuming his current post. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye has had the opportunity to meet him on a number of occasions, including at the Cherry Blossom Festival reception this week, where dignitaries that include Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta made remarks. USJC is also honored to welcome him as a speaker to the upcoming Japan-Texas Economic Summit, and look forward to working with the Ambassador and Mrs. Sugiyama in the coming years.

Applications Remain Open for Japanese Applicants of the 2018 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program

*Please note that the first city for Japanese Delegates to visit has been changed to Boston from Seattledue to unexpected schedule conflicts. Travel to all other cities and travel dates remain unchanged.

2017 U.S. Mitsui delegates in Japan

We are continuing to accept applications for Japanese applicants of the TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program. Generously funded by Mitsui & Co., Ltd., and entering its sixth 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. Selected through a competitive process, participants represent professional, geographic and gender diversity.

Ten (10) American and ten (10) Japanese young professionals from a mix of public and private sectors will travel to each other’s country for one week to engage as a group and meet with established and up-and-coming leaders from business and government. The American delegation will travel to Miyagi Prefecture and Tokyo, and the Japanese delegation will travel to Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

The deadline for the Japanese delegation is April 19. Click here for more information.

In Memoriam

We are very saddened that ​Ambassador Yoshio Okawara, ​Honorary ​Member of the Board of Councilors, has passed away. ​He was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the U.S. from 1980 to 1985. After retiring from the Government of Japan, he continued to support U.S.-Japan relations through the America-Japan Society (AJS), among other posts, and was AJS’s longest serving president (click here to read the tribute by Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, current AJS President, former Ambassador to the U.S., and Member of the USJC Board of Councilors). Ambassador Okawara was an active supporter of USJC since its inception, and attended many meetings. ​We extend our deepest condolences to Ambassador Okawara’s family.

Upcoming Events

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through December 8, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History (Washington, DC)

Last year, the National Museum of American History opened an exhibit to mark 75 years since Executive Order 9066 authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. On display are artifacts, photographs and stories collected from Japanese American families. There will also be public programming throughout the year related to this exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit the official website.

Register Now for the Japan-Texas Economic Summit


When: May 7 – 9, 2018
Where: Marriott Marquis Houston (Houston, TX)

Register now for the Japan-Texas Economic Summit! Following the highly successful Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit in 2017, the Japan-Texas Economic Summit will bring together business leaders, investors, state and local officials, and economic development organizations from across the Lone Star State and Japan. Texas is a leading destination for foreign direct investment from Japan, and we will welcome government and business representatives from the Government of Japan and prefectures throughout the country to explore further opportunities to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the state of Texas.

Join us for what will be a momentous step forward in the Japan-Texas economic partnership! Please visit the event page to see more details and to register.

The Japan America Society of Southern California’s 109th Anniversary Dinner & Gala


When: May 16, 2018
Where: The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

USJC is proud to be an honoree of the Japan America Society of Southern California’s Kokusai Shimin Sho “International Citizens Award” at the 109th Anniversary Dinner & Gala Celebration. This award recognizes individuals, businesses or organizations who have significantly enhanced the U.S.-Japan relationship and are committed to strengthening bonds between the two nations.

For more information, please visit this page.

SUGAI Intensive English and Leadership Program


When: July 25 – August 10, 2018
Where: George Washington University (Washington, DC)

Applications are due on April 15 for the SUGAI Intensive English and Leadership Program at The George Washington University (GW)!

This program is a 17-day summer program sponsored by the SUGAI Fund, and seeks to give students who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake an opportunity to broaden their horizons through the educational and cultural experiences at GW. Participants will enhance their communication, presentation and leadership skills and build their global awareness and understanding of cultural differences. They will also have an opportunity to meet students from all over the world and engage with experts in various fields in the United States. More information is available here.

Invitation Program for Japanese American Students

When: June 23 – July 3, 2018
Where: Tokyo and the Kansai region

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan is now recruiting Japanese American high school students for its invitation program this summer! This program, which runs from June 23 to July 3, enables four Japanese American high school students to travel to Tokyo and the Kansai region.

The program aims to provide students with an opportunity to learn more about Japan, and promote mutual understanding and exchange between Japanese and Japanese American youth. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 17. More information is available here.


TOMODACHI Marketing & Communications Manager (Tokyo)

The Marketing & Communications Manager is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic communications program to develop the profile and brand of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience and stakeholders, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, program participants, donors, press and the general public. The Marketing & Communications Manager will work closely with teams within the TOMODACHI Initiative in the implementation of this mission, as well as with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

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 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.