U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 13th, 2017)

USJC Members Speak at TOMODACHI Leadership Conference in Boston

From April 7 to April 9, forty college students (twenty Japanese and twenty American) from across New England convened in Boston for the fourth TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference. The theme of the conference focused on innovation and engagement in U.S.-Japan relations. Many of the participants expressed interest in careers as diplomats, and were excited to hear experts from both the U.S. and Japanese governments share their perspectives on the direction and future of the relationship.

Conference participants pose for a group picture

A panel on tech innovation and growth in New England featured Friend of the Council Peter Kelley (President, National Association of Japan-America Societies) as moderator and USJC Associate Jeffrey Vogel (Medical Doctor, Harvard University; CEO, RecoverMe Medical Solutions, Inc.), who discussed his development of an app to help those who have been injured in the workplace. TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) alumni Lianna Kushi (Executive Director, Entrepreneurship for All); Zach Przystup (Associate Director, Office of Executive Education, Tufts University, The Fletcher School); Kei Ashizawa (MPA Candidate, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government) and Dustin Rabideau (Process Engineer, Advanced Technology, Tokyo Electron (TEL NEXX)) reflected on their own professional development experiences and offered advice on how to develop networks and pursue passions. Council Leader Paul Watanabe (Director, Institute for Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston) was featured as a lunch speaker where he talked about why the story of Japanese Americans is relevant to the current political climate in the United States.

Two students (far left) with (L-R) Daiwa House Texas President Takeshi Wakita, Ms. Hirano Inouye, Consul General Michii and Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd. Senior Manager Masayuki Ando

Japan Program Manager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Science and Technology Initiatives Christine Pilcavage and Council Leaders Anne Nishimura Morse (William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and Deva Hirsch (Executive Director, The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation) joined other prominent professionals in Boston for a round-robin discussion with students about the work in their fields and what they have learned about leadership. ELP alumna Kuriko Hasegawa Wong (Communications Manager, Accenture) led a communications workshop for the students to develop public speaking and networking skills. A Sunday morning panel on responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake featured Council Leader Peter Grilli (President Emeritus and Senior Advisor, Japan Society of Boston), USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Yuki Sekiguchi (Rear Admiral, JMSDF; Defense and Naval Attaché, Embassy of Japan). A discussion with USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish (Trustee, Fish Family Foundation; Co-Founder, Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative) highlighted her work in philanthropy and why empowering women is important for everyone.

(L-R) Executive Director of USJC (J) Junko Tsuda, Ms. Fish, Ms. Hirano Inouye, RADM Sekiguchi and Mr. Grilli

On the evening of April 8, the Council hosted a reception celebrating the participants of the conference, bringing together USJC members and U.S.-Japan leaders from all over the Boston area. The short program featured remarks from Consul General of Japan in Boston Rokuichiro Michii, who spoke at the conference earlier in the day. Keiko Orrall, JALD alumna and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, spoke about the impact USJC has had on her life and gave a toast. Guests enjoyed an evening of lively conversation, views of the city skyline and good food.

This regional conference series is an opportunity for USJC members to share their expertise, experiences and ideas about leadership with the next generation of leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship. This conference series is made possible through a generous gift from Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd. to the TOMODACHI Initiative. We look forward to involving many of you for the next conference in October!

Recent Events

DC Area JALD Alumni Hold Mini Reunion with Taro Kono

Many thanks to DC Regional Vice Chair and 2017 JALD delegate David Boone for providing this recap!

On April 7, Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) alumni from Washington, DC and New York City met for dinner with Parliamentary leader Taro Kono. Representative Kono is a stalwart supporter of the JALD program and has met and sang karaoke with all 17 JALD delegations since the program’s inception. The group met for dinner in Washington, DC while Representative Kono was traveling through on business, and discussed a range of subjects from politics to recent topics of interest in Japan. It was a great reunion and a fun time getting together!

Mr. Boone (left) and Representative Kono (fourth from left) with JALD alumni and friends

New York Members Host Business Forum

On March 29, USJC members in New York hosted their first USJC Business Forum. The discussion featured Council Leaders Emiko Higashi (Managing Director, Tomon Partners) and Lance Stuart (Partner, Vici Capital Partners, LLC), who talked about their respective careers.

Council members and friends

Southern California Members Host First Members Event

On April 3, USJC members in Southern California hosted their first members event, which included a guided tour of the Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC). USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye attended and spoke about the importance of U.S.-Japan relations in today’s environment. Other speakers included Leslie Ito, a member of the 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD), and Mitch Maki, 2002 JALD delegate and President & CEO of GFBNEC.

Member of the USJC Board of Directors Dennis Sugino and Founding Chairman Thomas Iino enjoy an exhibit

Houston Enjoys Traditional Japanese Comedy

In partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and facilitated by Member of the USJC Board of Directors Donna Cole, a traditional Japanese comedy show, or rakugo, took place in Houston, Texas on March 24. The event was co-hosted by the Japanese Association of Greater HoustonThe University of St. Thomas HoustonCole Chemical & Distributing, Inc. and USJC.


Seven rakugo performers take the stage

USJC Members Lead TOMODACHI Kakehashi Inouye Scholars’ Visit to Japan

During the last two weeks of March, four U.S. universities led groups of college students to Japan as part of the TOMODACHI Kakehashi Inouye Scholars Program. The groups were accompanied by Council members in academia, including Dennis Ogawa (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Christine Kitano (Ithaca College), Hans Stockton (University of St. Thomas), Jennifer Butler (Jackson State University) and Paul Watanabe (University of Massachusetts Boston). The program aims to uphold the legacy of Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who believed that true global partnerships are made possible through people-to-people relationships. In addition to Tokyo and an exchange with students at their partner universities, the groups had the chance to visit other historical and cultural sites in Fukushima, Miyagi and Fukuoka.

University of Hawaii at Manoa students share a meal with a Kyushu University student

The University of Hawaii group participated in a day of exchange with students at Kyushu University and visited the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum. Due to Hawaii’s unique immigration history, many of the scholars are of Japanese descent, which made the visit to this museum particularly meaningful. Scholar Chantelle Sonoda expressed that this visit allowed her to “wrestle with [her] identity as a yonsei (fourth-generation) Japanese American and a nikkei.”

University of St. Thomas students make traditional Japanese crafts

In addition to meeting their Japanese peers, students from the University of St. Thomas were impressed by the juxtaposition of old and new in Japan. Scholar Eli McFarlane stated, “the most impactful part of the TOMODACHI program was the ability to meet other students my age from Fukushima University and spend a day with them. Traveling and experiencing the different cultures of other countries has shown me how much we have in common with each other even with the differences of language and custom.”

Jackson State University students with Miyagi University of Education students

The students from Jackson State University (JSU) began their travels in Tokyo and continued north to Sendai. In Tohoku especially, they felt a bond with the people of the region because their warmth and hospitality matched that of the South. While in Sendai, the students reunited with the Miyagi University of Education students and shared more about Mississippi, the role of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in our society, and Senator Inouye’s social justice legacy. The students plan to continue connecting with Japan in several ways, including hosting a “JSU Japan Day” on campus next semester. In addition, some students want to return to Japan to visit their new Japanese friends or participate in the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program (JET) after graduation.

Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program

Applications are still open for the fifth year of the TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program. This program is a unique bicultural exchange program designed to motivate a new generation of leaders and creative thinkers who are interested in the future of U.S.-Japan relations. We are seeking qualified professionals from across the United States and Japan who are active in the public and private sectors.

The application period for the American delegation ends today! Applications for the Japanese delegation are due by April 20.

The American delegation will travel to Iwate Prefecture and Tokyo, and the Japanese delegation will travel to Houston, Texas and Washington, DC.

Click here to read the 2017 program announcement. Details are also available online here.

2016 Mitsui delegates on a bus


The following article is part of a year-long series by the 2016 class of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leader Program.

Reflection from Colby Takeda (ELP 2016)

I first became aware of the U.S.-Japan Council through my involvement in two TOMODACHI-sponsored programs, Rainbow for Japan Kids and the TOMODACHI-Aloha Leadership Program. Through these initiatives, I’ve been able to connect with hundreds of Japanese students, visit the Tohoku region multiple times, and work with many representatives of the U.S.-Japan Council to support the efforts of the TOMODACHI Initiative. It quickly became clear that this organization—the mission, the vision, the people and the activities—was something that I needed to be a part of.

ELP class of 2016 get to know each other in Silicon Valley

I enthusiastically applied for the Emerging Leaders Program and, given the talents and achievements of the other ELP members, feel very honored and lucky to have been selected. The first time our ELP class met in person was at the hotel in Silicon Valley for the 2016 USJC Annual Conference. Almost instantly, we connected with each other through our shared interests and stories from home. Our relationships only strengthened as the week continued, and I became confident that these eleven new friends and I would continue to support each other even after the Conference concluded.

The connections formed through the U.S.-Japan Council are extraordinary. Everyone at the Annual Conference, from ELP alumni and other USJC members to the Board of Directors and USJC staff, were some of the kindest and most welcoming people around. It’s been almost six months since the Conference and it’s great to see so many relationships continue to develop.

(L-R) Sakura Yagi (ELP ’16), Kenshiro Uki (ELP ’14), the author, Nate Gyotoku (ELP ’13), Chris Krupa and Lynn Miyahara Krupa (ELP ’14) in Honolulu

Here in Hawaii, our local USJC leadership does a fantastic job keeping members updated through frequent communication and meetings, and the local ELP alumni meet to simply catch up or enjoy local events together. The ELP alumni in Hawaii also have the pleasure of hosting many ELP members who visit, and in turn, I have been able to visit other USJC members as I travel to different cities. This has been especially helpful in getting the insider’s guide to the best eateries in town. Being part of this amazing USJC network, which extends to people all around the world, has been so fulfilling and is, in my opinion, one of the core strengths of this organization.

I cannot be more appreciative of the many people who continue to believe in the Emerging Leaders Program, and whose compassion and commitment to the USJC mission motivates us to contribute to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. I especially want to thank Irene Hirano Inouye, Kaz Maniwa, Allison Murata, our many sponsors, and the other ELP members for all of their support and energy. I’m truly excited for the future of this organization and look forward to another successful Annual Conference in Washington, DC.


2017 Annual Conference: Registration Now Open!


U.S.-Japan Council 2017 Annual Conference
Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together
JW Marriott Washington, DC
November 11-14 (TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) programming on November 11 and USJC Members Day on November 12)

Registration is now open for the 2017 Annual Conference, which will be held from November 11 to 14 at the JW Marriott Washington, DC. This year, we are returning to our nation’s capital to discuss changes under a new administration. Following an election that divided the nation, we will discuss how to respect differences of opinion and find common ground as we work together toward mutually beneficial goals. At the same time, we will showcase and examine how global perspectives and diversity empower both the United States and Japan. We will exchange views on how international businesses and organizations can continue to expand in a changing political environment, and get work done to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship. We will also provide opportunities to network with stakeholders in the new administration and on Capitol Hill, and provide insight into the political and diplomatic arenas.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please click here for more information on sponsorship benefits.

Conference Schedule

Saturday, November 11, 2017

  • 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders & Alumni Programming
  • Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) Alumni Reunion

Sunday, November 12, 2017

  • Members Day
  • Networking Dinners

Monday, November 13, 2017

  • Full-Day Public Symposium & Reception
  • Sponsors Dinner

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

  • Half-Day Public Symposium & Offsite Visits
    Offsite visits scheduled throughout the day

Venue: JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Attire: Business

Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 Asian American Leadership Delegation

USJC is pleased to announce the fourth year of the Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD)!

The 2016 AALD delegation in Tokyo with Member of the USJC (J) Board of Councilors Bill Ireton and Executive Director of SPF Junko Chano (center)

The AALD program provides the opportunity for a select group of Asian American elected state officials from across the United States to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, and nonprofit sectors. This signature program will consist of a one-week trip for a delegation of six state legislators plus two trip leaders to visit Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. The delegation will meet with Japanese leaders to exchange ideas and create mutually beneficial networks in the short- and long-term. Funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), the program provides business class airfare travel from the United States to Japan and back and hotel accommodations, meals, and ground transportation expenses within Japan. The AALD program is implemented with support from the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.

The U.S.-Japan Council will approve the final six Asian American leaders. Selection for the 2017 delegation will give consideration to individuals who are serving as elected officials at the state level, regional representation, diversity of legislative committee assignments, professional backgrounds and gender balance.

For more information about the program and to learn how to apply, please click here.

Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative Now Accepting Applications

Applications are now open for the 2017 Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) Executive Leadership Development Training!

JWLI empowers Japanese women to become leaders and to make positive social change in Japan. In its 10th year, JWLI is launching a new program called JWLI-II, which focuses on executive leadership training and encouraging Japanese women to be action-oriented leaders.

JWLI-II is a four-week training program in Boston and will include participation in the Women’s Leadership Program at Babson College, a five-day intensive entrepreneurial management program, and visits to successful nonprofit organizations in Boston to learn their best practices in nonprofit management and leadership.

Applications must be submitted by May 8. Click here to learn more about the program and how to apply!

Upcoming Events

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through February 19, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History

In February, the National Museum of American History opened a year-long 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

Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered.


When: Ongoing until July 9, 2017
Where: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

For the first time in nearly 140 years, three large-scale works by the legendary Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro are reunited at the Freer|Sackler. The exhibition showcases Moon at Shinagawa from the Freer|Sackler along with Snow at Fukagawa from the Okada Museum of Art and Cherry Blossoms at Yoshiwara from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Depicting the themes of snow, moon, and flowers, the triptych was last shown in Japan in 1879. The Freer|Sackler is the only location at which all three original pieces are on view.

For more information, please visit the Freer|Sackler website here.

Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit

When: May 9-11, 2017
Where: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows (Big Island, Hawaii)

The Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, presented by USJC and the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, is a three day event being held to foster tangible near- and long-term economic opportunities among Japanese prefectures, the State of Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.

Summit attendees will explore opportunities spanning business, education, tourism and energy, and will forge one-on-one connections that will pave the way for future collaboration and trade.

The Summit will include Governors, government officials and business leaders. Governors from prefectures with State of Hawaii sister partnerships (Ehime, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Okinawa and Hokkaido) as well as those that are part of USJC’s “Governors’ Circle” (Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Oita, Okayama, Nagano and Shizuoka) have been invited.

For more information and to register, please click 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.