U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (April 3rd, 2014)


USJC is proud to present the Fifth Annual Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii in October 2014. The Annual Conference brings together regional, national and international leaders from government, business, academia and non-profit sectors to discuss current issues and opportunities impacting U.S.-Japan relations. With its historical, cultural and strategic significance in the Asia Pacific, Hawaii is the perfect venue for a Conference that connects the East and West.

USJC seeks to highlight Hawaii’s unique value to Japanese and U.S. mainland businesses, including industries such as tourism and hospitality, clean energy and technology, culinary and more. Over 500 attendees are expected from throughout the United States and Japan, and will exhibit innovation and entrepreneurship that can take place through international collaboration. USJC has an active membership in Hawaii, and has held many events in Honolulu, but this will be the first Annual Conference held in Hawaii. The Conference will showcase Hawaii leaders in breakout sessions and round table exchanges, and connect local individuals with visitors from across the country or abroad.

For more information and to register today, please visit our website.


On March 25, the U.S.-Japan Council hosted a seminar and reception in Washington, DC titled “Delivering on the Promise of Womenomics: How Can Americans Contribute?”. On the heels of ‘Abenomics’ and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s emphasis on the advancement of women and better work-life balance, this event tackled a timely topic. Welcoming several established panelists from both the United States and Japan, the seminar drew a capacity crowd consisting of individuals from the U.S. and Japanese governments, thinktanks, businesses, media and USJC Members.

First panel: Panelists Dr. Kathryn Ibata-Arens, Director of Global Asian Studies at DePaul University and USJC Council Member; Ms. Wendy Cutler, Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative; Ms. Kumiko Bando, Deputy Minister of Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and interpreter.

Second panel: Moderator Ms. Royanne Doi, Corporate Chief Ethics Officer at Prudential Financial, Inc. and Member of the USJC Board of Directors; Panelists Ms. Hiroko Kuniya, Anchor of Close-Up Gendai, NHK-TV and Member of the USJC Board of Councilors; Ms. Kaoriko Kuge, Senior Anchor and Correspondent at Fujisankei Communications International, Inc.; Ms. Keiko Honda, Executive Vice President of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group; and Ms. Kim Azzarelli, President of Women in the World Foundation and Founding Partner of Seneca Point Global.

See the summary of the event here.

See photos from the event here.

See videos from the event here.


Participants of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program, who were in Washington, DC then, also attended the event. See below for an article by Ms. Asuka Kobayashi, who spoke at the seminar:

“Don’t be afraid to take risks, find great mentors to guide you, and never forget to give back to the community.” This mindset was shared by every woman leader whom I met through the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program.

This program has given me the great opportunity to acquire all of this mindset through dialogues, workshops and mentor-mentee relationships. The workshops have taught us to build on our own strength and to find our own leadership styles. Furthermore, my mentor has truly inspired me to become a strong, persuasive and understanding woman leader like her. Finally, I learned the important mindset of giving back to the community, in order to support and empower next generations: to further enhance their leadership skills, to believe in their potential and to deepen their cross-cultural understanding.

Through the USJC conference on “womenomics” in Washington D.C., I had the great opportunity to meet some of the famous women leaders of the United States and Japan. The experience and advice which those women leaders shared with us deeply motivate me to believe in the potential I have as a woman, and made me realize that I have to take action myself if I wanted to make a difference in the world. At the same time, I learned the importance of communication and having a strong network. As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I want to go far with many inspiring, strong and persuasive leaders from the United States and Japan. This is because I truly believe that we, the TOMODACHI generation, can and will make a great difference together in the future of the United States, Japan and the world.



The TOMODACHI iLEAP Social Innovation in Seattle (SIIS) concluded on March 29 with a graduation ceremony following final project presentations to the leaders of the Community Partner Organizations. They celebrated with a graduation ceremony and reception. See photos here.


American host families, host siblings, teachers and guests gathered in New York City on March 30 for final presentations by the ten Japanese high school students of the TOMODACHI Japan Society Junior Fellows program.

For the past two weeks, the Japanese students lived with American host families in one of five host communities across the New York tri-state area. They attended a local high school, having the chance to experience the daily life of an American teenager.

The presentations encompassed a wide variety of topics including observations of differences between American and Japanese homes, schools, hometowns and beliefs. Many of the Japanese participants discovered a lot about themselves through immersion in an American family and school. Host parents expressed how much they enjoyed and learned from having a Japanese student live with their family for two weeks.

The American and Japanese participants remained in the city for a retreat that included casual dinners with U.S.-Japan Council ELP alumni Courtney Sato and Adam Moriwaki. For career development purposes, participants were matched with leaders in their field of interest or study at a leaders’ lunch hosted at the Japan Society. U.S.-Japan Council Members Frederick H. Katayama and Dr. Jeanette Takamura were in attendance, sharing insights, advice and answering questions.
The Japanese students return to Japan on April 3rd after touring colleges in Boston this week. The American students will be traveling to Japan this summer in July.


The TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program is designed to inspire and motivate the next generation of young American and Japanese leaders to be active in U.S.-Japan relations. This bicultural experience provides outstanding young leaders 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.

This year, consideration will be given (but not limited) to applicants from Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Nashville and Texas.

Last year, many Council Members engaged with the participants of this program. If you are interested in working with the 2014 class, please contact Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa at [email protected].


Applications are now open for the 2014-15 class of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP). The 10-month mentorship program pairs highly-motivated Japanese female university students with Japanese female mid-career professionals to encourage networking among a select corps of Japanese women who show promise as Japan’s next generation of leaders. This year’s program will take place in four locations: Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Naha.

Motivated, bilingual Japanese citizens and permanent residents are encouraged to apply as either participants or mid-career mentors, so please distribute this to your networks. More information about TMWLP is available online hereApplications are due by April 21, 2014.



Stepping off the subway in Long Island City, Queens, I wandered through rows of warehouses to arrive at the Noguchi Museum. Founded by the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), the site houses his internationally acclaimed sculptures, as well as an open-air Japanese rock garden. After roaming the galleries, I spent the afternoon sifting through the archives. Correspondence, photographs and newspaper clippings detailed Isamu Noguchi’s experiences as a hapa Japanese American artist operating from Long Island City, steps away from the docks where he sourced raw blocks of granite, basalt and marble.

What brought me to Queens was not Isamu Noguchi, but rather his father, the poet Yone Noguchi (1875-1947). Despite living in the United States for over a decade and publishing prolifically for American audiences, Yone Noguchi has largely fallen off the literary map. His complex legacy is partially due to the ambiguities of his positioning as both a Japanese and Japanese American writer. My research as a PhD student in Yale’s American Studies program concerns writers like Noguchi: intellectuals who once experienced international literary success, only to lapse into obscurity. Yone Noguchi’s split legacy, along with an often-vexed relationship with his nisei son Isamu, speak to what it meant to be a writer during the first half of the twentieth century. Yone traveled between the United States, England and Japan on transcontinental lecture circuits, forging alliances across a vast transnational network. His story uncovers what it meant to straddle geographic boundaries like the watery pathways between Japan and the United States.

In considering these questions, I aim to uncover the intimately human texture of these early transnational networks—the very type of people-to-people connections that the U.S.-Japan Council currently aims to facilitate. Through the U.S.-Japan Council’s Emerging Leaders Program, I have been fortunate to join a cohort of likeminded, highly motivated individuals, as well as to be guided by established community leaders. Thanks to a connection forged through the U.S.-Japan Council, I was fortunate to participate in an inaugural planning session for the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor’s digital exhibition in February, as well as to partake in the medal’s homecoming celebration at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Last week, I was fortunate to meet a vibrant group of Japanese high school students participating in the TOMODACHI Japan Society Junior Fellows program over “American” sushi. (They laughed at the avocado and cream cheese fillings.) While academic research may occasionally feel isolating or peripheral, involvement with the Japanese American community through initiatives like the U.S.-Japan Council remind me of the importance of uncovering previously forgotten stories, while also forging new connections and narratives. 

-Courtney Sato