U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 25th, 2019)

Sixth U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Organizations Summit Takes Place in DC

On April 2, the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON) and USJC convened the sixth U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Organizations Summit. Organizations involved in U.S.-Japan legislative exchanges came together at The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington, DC to share information and resources about recent and upcoming exchanges. They also discussed ways to collaborate further, in order to expand opportunities for legislators participating in these exchanges and provide high quality programming.

(L-R) Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Japan Kimitake Nakamura; Secretary-General for U.S. CULCON Paige Cottingham-Streater; USJC Director of Program Development Shane Graves; President of The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation Frank Januzzi; Coordinator for Japan and Korea, Office of Public Diplomacy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Katherine Tarr; and USJC Director of Partnerships & Development Weston Konishi.

The meeting agenda included reviewing legislative exchanges since the previous Summit, analyzing the current political state of affairs, and taking a look at upcoming major events and opportunities. The discussions focused on U.S. Members of Congress and Japanese Diet Members, as well as Congressional staff members and interns, fellows and students, and state and local government leaders. In addition to the conveners and host, participating organizations included the Congressional Study Group on Japan, the East-West Center in Washington, the Embassy of Japan, the Japan Center for International Exchange, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the National Association of Japan-America Societies, and the U.S. Department of State.

Recent Events

JWLI Welcome Reception (Spring 2019)

Many thanks to JWLI for the following blurb! JWLI is supported by USJC.

The 2019 Spring Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) program started with a reception on April 16. USJC Board Member and the program Founder, Atsuko Fish, welcomed four Fellows onboard. We thank our host organizations, guest speakers, and those who joined us at the reception. Ginny Fordham, Chair of USJC’s New England Region, also came to our reception. We would like to thank USJCand its Tokyo office for its continued supportand friendship.

Atsuko Fish (left) with the 2019 Spring Fellows: (L-R) Eri Maeda, Yu Shinagawa, Kanako Sakimura, Eriko Ito

JWLI is a two-year executive leadership development program that invests in emerging women leaders from across Japan and transforms them to be action-oriented leaders. JWLI’s primary mission is to empower Japanese women to become innovative leaders and make positive social change in Japan.

(L-R) Ginny Fordham with guest Susan Whitehead and 2019 Spring Fellow Eri Maeda

On May 7, these four Fellows will give pitches on their Action Plans at an event co-hosted by the Japan Society of Boston. Please follow this link to save your spot.


Next Generation Leaders from Tohoku Study Tourism and Revitalization in the United States

On the Seaside Heights Boardwalk in New Jersey after learning about post-Hurricane Sandy community rebuilding efforts

From March 23 to April 1, 16 high school students from Minami Sanriku traveled to the United States on the TOMODACHI Amway Japan Foundation Tohoku Future Leader Program. This is the inaugural year of the 10-day program, which focuses on tourism and cross-cultural exchange.

The high school students spent time in Washington, DC, New York City, and coastal communities on the Jersey Shore. While in the nation’s capital, the students were based at a local high school with specialized hospitality and tourism curricula. The Japanese students were paired with local students, and experienced daily life by attending classes and joining afterschool activities, including sports and Japanese language classes. The students also did homestays for four days and gained firsthand experience of life at an American home.

A program participant discusses with students from the D.C. partner school

One of the participants, Miyuu Haga, shared enthusiasm about the DC visit. “I used to associate the city mainly with politics, but now I see that it is a fun place with a lot of character. Similarly, I think those who have never visited Minami Sanriku associate it with seafood or see it as a seaside town. I want to promote our town so that people get to know our town and our residents, and see that we have a lot more to offer.”

After DC, the group traveled to New York City. They visited the 9/11 Tribute Center and National Memorial, where they heard personal stories from those directly impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2001. The speakers said that sharing their stories has helped them deal with some of the loss and sadness they feel as a result of what happened. This shared experience of loss and disaster connected the Minami Sanriku high school students, whose hometown was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake, with the speakers.

Two participants share remarks with guests, partner school students and host families during the closing reception.

The group also traveled to coastal towns on the Jersey Shore to learn about the impact of Hurricane Sandy. They toured the boardwalk of Seaside Heights, hearing from the mayor the ways the town has tried to rebuild to attract tourism. During the tour, they also learned about the precautions the community has taken to protect beaches and seaside commercial areas from future floods and storms. The students saw many similarities between these New Jersey communities and their hometown.

Now that they have returned to Japan, the students will apply what they learned to work together on a final project on how to encourage tourism in Minami Sanriku. The final presentation is scheduled to be held in September 2019.

Future Women Leaders in the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program Visit Washington, DC and New York City

The participants in Times Square
Networking dinner with young professionals, including Kyla Kitamura (third from left)

From March 20 to 27, a group of 50 undergraduate women students from across Tokyo, Osaka, Naha and Sapporo participating in the 10-month TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) traveled to Washington, DC and New York City. They gained a deeper understanding of leadership in a global environment and learned how they can actively own their lives and careers. Throughout the trip, the participants engaged in reflections with the guidance of an American mentor.

The trip began in DC with skill-building workshops on teamwork and giving presentations, building resilience, and networking. Subsequent days included discussions on leadership with Susan Greenwell, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Government Relations at MetLife, Inc.; lunch with female Japanese diplomats; and a networking dinner with professionals from a variety of fields, including USJC Associate Kyla Kitamura (ELP ’17). A panel discussion with Japanese women professionals, organized by the Japan Institute for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (JSIE), included Council Leader Yuka Hayashi, Reporter at The Wall Street Journal. The weekend was spent with couples who shared how they pursued dual careers while enjoying a fulfilling family life, and volunteering for community service organizations.

Planting trees as part of their community service

In New York, students exchanged views on leadership with American students at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, and visited a variety of innovative businesses and organizations that support underserved communities through the use of technology.

The final day of the trip was spent at the MetLife headquarters in NYC. Participants received advice from Laura Winthrop Abbot, USJC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Julia Trujillo, Senior Vice President for Global Talent and Workforce Development at MetLife, Inc.; and Dr. Cindy Pace, Senior Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader at MetLife, Inc. To conclude the trip, participants delivered final presentations addressing what kind of leader they intend to be in the future.

JSIE Panel with Yuka Hayashi (right)

“It is the end of the U.S. trip, but the relationships do not end here. The confidence and community I have gained from this program will always help me move forward,” said Kiyoka Oyabu, one of the participants and a student at Doshisha University.

The 100 students and mentors participating in the program will reconvene in Tokyo for an Annual Conference in late May to celebrate the completion of the program. Since 2013, TMWLP has impacted 538 women across Japan.

This program is made possible by the generous support of MetLife.

Participants of this year’s 2018-2019 TMWLP US trip

Member News

Kathy Ishizuka Named One of Top Women in Media

Congratulations to Council Leader Kathy Ishizuka, who was named one of the 2019 Top Women in Media by Folio: which supports magazine publishing professionals. Ms. Ishizuka is the Executive Editor of School Library Journal (SLJ), a publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens. With her work in promoting diverse representation in children’s books, she was named as a change-maker who “successfully altered the course of their brands or the industry for the better.” For more information about Ms. Ishizuka, please see the SLJ article here.

Upcoming Events

Kau Kau – A Food Fest Presented by the USJC U40

When: Friday, May 31, 2019 at 6:00pm
Where: SALT at Our Kaka’ako

No party in Hawaii is complete without amazing food! For one night only, USJC will bring together local chefs to showcase Hawaii’s distinct regional cuisine that celebrates diverse ethnic flavors with fresh local ingredients. Buy your tickets today and join us for this special event in the heart of vibrant Honolulu! “Kau Kau” is a Hawaiian pidgin phrase for “food” or “to eat” and is used among many different ethnicities in Hawaii. The word comes from the plantation-era when people from all over the world came to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields.

This event is open to the public. Visit this page to learn more and to register.


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.