U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 2nd, 2015)

“Updates from Tohoku” Event in Boston Draws Big Crowd

Host and Member of the Board of Directors Atsuko Fish (right) with Council Member Dr. Susumu Ito (left)

USJC’s New England Members commemorated the Great East Japan Earthquake with an inspiring night of “Updates from Tohoku & A Night of Remembrance: A Journey to a New Life,” on March 31. Hosted by the Fish Family Foundation, where Member of the USJC Board of Directors Atsuko Fish serves as a Trustee, the evening’s program offered reflection, insights and inspiration to a packed house in Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye opened the program with an explanation of USJC’s work to support Tohoku, and an update on her participation in the recent 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan. Consul General of Boston Tsutomu Himeno offered warm greetings, with a moving reminder of the losses suffered on March 11, 2011.

Council Member Shun Kanda sharing his plan for rebuilding Tohoku

The program continued with three Tohoku updates. Council Member Shun Kanda, Director of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, offered his vision for an innovative rebuilding plan that would better serve the community’s needs based on his deep engagement in the Minamisanriku community. Council Member Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, provided fascinating insights into artistic responses to March 11th through work she collected and curated at the museum’s new exhibit, “In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11.” USJC Friend of the Council, Megumi Ishimoto, next inspired the audience with an update on the work that the NPO she founded, Women’s Eye, has accomplished to support women in Tohoku, especially those in evacuation centers and temporary housing. Megumi credited both the TOMODACHI NGO Leadership Program supported by J.P. Morgan, as well as the Japan Women’s Leadership Initiative supported by the Fish Family Foundation, for providing the resources to expand her NPO’s work within the community, and to launch an International Grassroots Women’s Academy in Tohoku.

Council Member Dr. Paul Watanabe discussing the role of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations

Following the Tohoku updates, Dr. Paul Watanabe, Council Member and Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provided an eloquent testimonial about the role the Japanese American community has played in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, from advising the Japanese government, to educating Japanese American leaders, to launching the TOMODACHI initiative. The program closed with a rousing performance by Shun Kumagai (saxophone) and Takeru Saito (piano), both from the Tohoku region and currently studying at the Berklee College of Music on a TOMODACHI Suntory Music Scholarship Fund.

We were thrilled to be joined by many USJC Members, Boston community leaders, students, and friends of USJC. We express our deep and sincere thanks to Atsuko Fish, Kozue Sawame, and Fish Family Foundation for their vision and hard work; to Berklee College of Music for providing the venue; and to all the speakers and performers who made the evening such a success!

See more photos of the event here. Further photos and video from the event will be posted as they become available.

Women Leaders Speak at Panel for Participants of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program

(Left to right) Moderator Dr. Nancy Walker, Panelists Dr. Sachiko Kuno, Irene Hirano Inouye and Leona Hiraoka

On March 23, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Council Member Leona Hiraoka, and Dr. Sachiko Kuno, Co-Founder, President and CEO of the S&R Foundation, spoke on a panel as part of the U.S. visit by the 38 participants of the 2014-15 TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP). The panel was moderated by Dr. Nancy Walker, former Founder and Director of AfricaNet. In addition to sharing personal stories of their career paths, the panelists spoke on topics of women in leadership, work-life balance, mentorship and how non-profit or volunteer work plays a role in their professional lives. The TMWLP women posed a number of questions to the panelists, and said they were inspired and encouraged by their advice and accomplishments. A reception attended by USJC Members (Yuuki Shinomiya, Martin Iguchi, Sach Takayasu, John Tobe, Atsuko Fish, and Weston Konishi), staff and local DC professionals followed the panel.

Program participants with (center, back row) Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (Photo Courtesy of Cultural Vistas)

This event was part of the participants’ ten-day visit to Washington, DC and New York City from March 20 to 30. While in DC, the women met with individuals like Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2) and leaders of a number of organizations, including the U.S. Department of State and the American Association of University Women. USJC Members Rima Matsumoto, Edson Mori, Janet Nuzum, Mark Uyeda and Amy Yamashiro hosted the women for hospitality dinners, providing them an opportunity for in-depth discussions over a home-cooked meal. Board Member Atsuko Fish came down from Boston to share with them her personal journey. The participants also toured DC with alumni of the JET program and visited local universities, where they were hosted by members of the TOMODACHI DC network of young people. The DC program also premiered “Couples Coffee,” an opportunity for the participants to meet professionals and their spouses to discuss topics such as work-life balance and how careers work with a partner, spouse or family.

A scene from “Couples Coffee” (Photo courtesy of Cultural Vistas)

After DC, the group traveled to New York City, where they met with organizations led by women like Council Members Patricia Kozu and Julie Azuma. The visit culminated with final presentations by the participants in front of leaders and supporters at the MetLife headquarters. Several USJC Members and TOMODACHI scholars also came to see the presentations.

More details will be on the TOMODACHI website soon!

Other Recent Events

Second Business Advisory Board – Tokyo

Member of the Board of Councilors Glen S. Fukushima discussing how recent elections affects U.S.-Japan relations

On March 19, 2015, the second U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board Reception took place in Tokyo. Over 90 individuals attended, including USJC leaders and members like Ms. Kathy Matsui, Member of the USJC (Japan) Board of Councilors, and Mr. James Kondo, a Friend of the Council, and such distinguished guests as Mr. Yoshiaki Fujimori, President & CEO of LIXIL Group Corporation,and Dr. Mariko Bando, President of Showa Women’s University.

Paul Yonamine, Chair of the USJC (Japan) Board of Councilors, emceed the program, which included welcome remarks from Masaaki Tanaka, Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, as well as remarks from Dennis Teranishi, Chair of the USJC Board of Directors. In his remarks, Dennis discussed his deep commitment to the U.S.-Japan Council and stressed that, “for the success of our individual businesses, for the health of our respective economies, and for the greater economic prosperity of the region, strong U.S.-Japan relations are essential.”

(Left to right) Mr. Masaaki Tanaka, Dr. Mariko Bando, Ms. Kathy Matsui and Mr. Paul Yonamine

Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Glen S. Fukushima also gave a brief speech on U.S.-Japan relations after the U.S. midterm elections in November and the election in Japan in December. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye thanked the Business Advisory Board Members’ support of the Council and discussed the Council’s activities in the coming year, including the 2015 Annual Conference to be held in Tokyo.

We would once again like to express our sincere appreciation to the individuals who participated.


See more photos from the event here.

Meeting with Mr. Kuniharu Nakamura, Representative Director, President and CEO of Sumitomo Corporation – Tokyo


On March 19, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Chair of the USJC Board of Directors Dennis Teranishi, Member of the USJC (Japan) Board of Councilors Scott Sato, TOMODACHI Executive Director Laura Winthrop Abbot and other leaders visited Sumitomo Corporation headquarters. They met with Mr. Kuniharu Nakamura, Representative Director, President and CEO of Sumitomo Corporation (pictured below, seated to the right), and thanked him and his team for their strong support of USJC and the TOMODACHI Initiative.

Seattle Membership Event – Seattle

On March 19, several current and prospective members in the Seattle area gathered to celebrate USJC and the participants of the TOMODACHI Social Innovation in Seattle Scholars (SIIS) program. Among them were Members of the Board of Directors Phyllis Campbell (see the video of her speech here) and Jill Nishi, and Council Members Britt Yamamoto (who leads the SIIS program) and Harold Taniguchi (see his video in the TOMODACHI Corner below).

Phyllis Campbell (left) speaking to a SIIS program participant (Photo courtesy of iLEAP)

USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa flew in from San Francisco to support the event, and Council Member Lynn Hashimoto recounted her experience with the 2015 Japanese American Leadership Delegation program, from which she had returned only a few days ago.

Council Member Harold Taniguchi (second from right), who was also Team Mentor for the SIIS program, with program participants (Photo courtesy of iLEAP)

See more photos from the event here.

Stories from Tohoku Screening – Houston

On March 27, USJC and the U.S.-Japan Initiative (Center for International Studies) at the University of St. Thomas held a 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. Leaders from Japanese business and government, as well as students and local non-Japan related professionals, attended the event. Following the screening, Deputy Consul-General from the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston, Mr. Atsushi Iwasaki, spoke about the current situation in Tohoku.

Deputy Consul-General Mr. Atsushi Iwasaki speaking after the film screening


Very Young Composers from Fukushima and New York


On March 24, participants of the TOMODACHI New York Fukushima Very Young Composers Program delivered a special performance at the Lincoln Center.

Beginning in October 2014, children ages 10-15 from Fukushima and New York City collaboratively composed short “musical postcards” based on the Japanese folksong “chou-cho” (butterfly), for a performance by musicians of the New York Philharmonic. This TOMODACHI program promotes meaningful cultural exchanges through the exploration of music, providing a way for youth to communicate on a person-to-person level that goes beyond country borders and language issues.

(Photo courtesy of the New York Philharmonic)

The concert culminated a week-long residency by the nine 10–14-year-olds from Fukushima. Philharmonic musicians and Teaching Artists performed the works. The Very Young Composers also had the opportunity to meet Philharmonic Radio Host and Board Member Alec Baldwin and President Matthew VanBesien, pictured below:

(Photo courtesy of the New York Philharmonic)

Click here for a summary on the New York Philharmonic website. Click here to see a video of the Japanese student and an American student being interviewed after the event by Member of the Board of Directors Fred Katayama. Here’s a separate video with their parents.

USJC would like to express its sincere appreciation to the New York Philharmonic for a wonderful program and event. The TOMODACHI New York Fukushima Very Young Composers Program is made possible by the generous support from the TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges.

TOMODACHI Social Innovation in Seattle Scholars (SIIS) program

The 25 Japanese scholars have successfully completed the five-week TOMODACHI SIIS program in Seattle. The program included site visits to the Bullitt Center (the newest sustainable building in Seattle), Northwest Center, Theo Chocolate and Farestart. Scholars marked the anniversary of 3.11 by volunteering with Act for Japan, making connections with the local Japanese community and seeing the ongoing support for 3.11 in Seattle.

A “marshmallow challenge” exercise

Under the leadership of mentors, all of whom were USJC Members (Lori Matsukawa, John Okamoto, Harold Taniguchi, Lynn Hashimoto and Pat Oishi), the scholars worked together on diverse projects for companies and institutions like Microsoft, Unleesh, Goodwill, Junglecity, and the University of Washington. The projects helped scholars gain real world experience, and from the process of working in a group, learn about collaboration and one’s own leadership.

Council Member Lori Matsukawa (second from left) with her mentees

Scholars also joined the March 19th USJC Membership event (see details above in the Recent Events section), where representatives made remarks about their experience on the program. One student said, “I now understand my leadership style and will go back to my community (in Tohoku) and be a more influential and compassionate leader for others.” The program concluded with a graduation ceremony attended by host families, community partners and members.

Council Member Britt Yamamoto, who leads the SIIS program (center), with the two scholars who spoke at the Membership event, Yuto Chiba (left) and Saya Ogasawara (right)

Videos: Click to see clips of speeches at the USJC Member Event, from scholar Yuto Chiba, scholar Saya Ogasawara, and Council Member and Team Mentor Harold Taniguchi.

Application information and other updates

We are now accepting applications for the 2015 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program. We are seeking applicants from Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Portland, Texas (U.S.) and Kyoto, Miyagi, Oita, Okinawa, and Toyama (Japan). Program information and application information can be found here. The application deadline for American delegates is April 10, and for Japanese delegates, April 17.


2014 USJC Annual Report now available!


The 2014 USJC Annual Report is now available! They are currently being mailed to members and sponsors, and a digital version is also on our website here. We hope you will be proud of our collective accomplishments resulting in another successful year of impactful programs and events. We are especially happy to present this new design, which was made possible through the generosity of Council Member Leona Hiraoka! For the first time, a Japanese version of the report will also be available.

Member News

Mr. Masami Iijima, Chairman and Director of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., joins USJC Board of Councilors

Mr. Iijima speaking at the 2014 USJC Annual Conference

We are happy to welcome Mr. Masami Iijima, Chairman and Director of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., as a Member of the Board of Councilors. Mr. Iijima joined Mitsui in 1974, and after several leadership roles in Japan and abroad, became President & CEO in April 2009. In October 2014, he was a Keynote Speaker at the 2014 USJC Annual Conference (watch his speech here). He became Chairman and Director on April 1, 2015. We are grateful for Mr. Iijima’s support and look forward to working with him in the years to come.

Upcoming Events

Apr. 2 (Ongoing now!) – The Sun Also Rises?: Japan’s Potential in The Post-Crisis Global Economy (New York)

  • Date & Time: Thursday, April 2, 2015, 6:00p.m.
  • Venue: Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017)

Where Japan has led, the western world has largely followed, with manufacturing losing competitiveness, financial sectors hitting trouble, technological change challenging old industries, and ageing demographics imposing heavy burdens on public finances and productivity. But Japan’s early experience of these changes also means that some Japanese corporations and sectors have already begun the process of adapting. What are the potential opportunities for Japan in today’s world? In this program, a group of prominent panel members including former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, Bill Emmott, discusses the future role and strengths of Japan in this new global economy.

Fred Katayama, Member of the USJC Board of Directors, is moderating this event. Please click here to more details. The event is sold out, but will be broadcast on NHK World in select cities on April 25.

Apr. 11 – USJC Silicon Valley Networking Reception (Silicon Valley)

  • Date & Time: Saturday, April 11, 2015, 6:00 – 7:30p.m.
  • Venue: Parkview Ballroom, The Cypress – A Kimpton Hotel (10050 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino, CA)

Please join us for the USJC Silicon Valley Networking Reception in conjunction with the 2015 TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference I. The online RSVP form can be found here. The deadline for RSVPs is Friday, April 3. Spouses or partners are also welcome to attend the reception.

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 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.


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.

Review of applications will begin March 23, 2015. The preferred start date is April 13, 2015.

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.