U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (August 6th, 2015)

On the 70th Anniversary of the End of the War

This month marks 70 years since the end of World War II. This is a time for us to pause and remember those who have lost their lives. Many people have lost loved ones or continued to live with the effects of the war. But U.S.-Japan relations have come a long way since then, and are now stronger than ever. As stated in USJC’s vision, positive and productive cooperation between the two countries can benefit the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. We believe this ultimately contributes to the peace and stability of the region.

I am proud that USJC is helping to bring our two countries closer, through a strong emphasis on people-to-people relations. Some of the founders of USJC are Japanese American leaders who themselves experienced the War. They know what it is like to be judged or questioned based on appearance, and have become champions for diversity. Many of USJC’s programs, like diversifying leaders who strengthen U.S.-Japan relations or supporting women leaders, are aligned with these origins.

A TOMODACHI participant at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

At the same time, a great number of leaders who work in the U.S.-Japan realm are now individuals who do not know the War firsthand. For us, it is all the more important to remember the War, so that we may never make the same mistake again. This is why multiple classes of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD), including this year’s, have visited Hiroshima (whose bombing took place exactly 70 years ago today). This is why every class of JALD and many other exchange programs have visited the Japanese American National Museum, studying the struggles of Japanese Americans, from the internment to the redress movement. This is why we have a strong relationship with the Japanese American Veterans Association and many other veterans’ organizations, to ensure that their stories are passed on to the younger generation.

The 2015 JALD visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

And importantly, strong bilateral relations begin with mutual understanding–not just by diplomats or prominent leaders, but by all citizens. With this belief, we are committed to fostering the next generation of American and Japanese leaders through the TOMODACHI Initiative. It is rewarding indeed to witness students revel in homestay opportunities, to see young professionals exchange ideas in their fields of expertise, or to hear that TOMODACHI has helped create lifelong relationships among people of different backgrounds.

Veteran Terry Shima (right) and former internee Mary Murakami (left) share their stories with participants of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange program

The appreciation for strong U.S.-Japan relations is also passed on through multiple generations and nationalities. One of the most telling examples is the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program, which enables students to learn about Senator Daniel Inouye’s legacy. Scholars from Loyola Marymount University visited Hiroshima as part of the program last summer, and one of the students was inspired to write this poem. This, in turn, was presented to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his visit to Los Angeles this past May. As the poem eloquently states, we “have the responsibility” to never “let [the War] happen again.” We at USJC are proud to help ensure that.

Irene Hirano Inouye
President, U.S.-Japan Council

TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars from University of Massachusetts Boston in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Recent Events

Regional Women in Leadership Lunches – Various Cities

The lunch in Washington, DC included USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye (center) and Council Member Sach Takayasu (right)

With the support of the Embassy of Japan, USJC has launched a new series of networking events across ten locations in the United States, as part of its commitment to Women in Leadership. USJC Members convene a series of networking lunches to discuss women’s leadership in the context of U.S.-Japan relations. These lunches provide a place to create conversations and foster people-to-people connections among diverse community and business leaders with shared interests.

The lunch in Los Angeles included Council Member Debra Nakatomi (right)

Lunches have taken place so far in eight cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. Topics thus far have included Womenomics and Japan’s initiatives for supporting women leaders, achieving gender equality in the workplace and as countries, and best practices that can be shared between Japan and the United States. The program is run by Members and invites leaders, including officials at local Japanese consulates, who support U.S.-Japan relations and women’s leadership.

A scene from the lunch in Los Angeles

Japan Day in the Windy City – Chicago

Organized by the Chicago Japanese American Council, Japan Day Chicago was a two-day festival (held on July 18 and 19) that combined traditional Japanese arts and modern culture. USJC served as a sponsor to the event, which entertained thousands of guests with activities and workshops, as well as performances such as a traditional Awa Odori folk dance and a J-Pop concert. Visitors also indulged in Japanese food such as okonomiyakigyuudon, and a selection of various styles of ramen, all prepared by local vendors.

“The goal really is to spread the culture, traditions, food and art of the Japanese people,” USJC Member Bob Kumaki, who served as a member of the event’s executive committee, told the Chicago Tribune.

(L-R) Associate Member Ryota Sekine, Board Member Dayne Kono, and Council Member Marion Friebus-Flaman at the USJC Booth

Chicago-based USJC Members presented a booth on both days, writing the names of attendees in Japanese on TOMODACHI themed cards, and explaining the activities and goals of USJC and TOMODACHI. In addition to Mr. Kumaki, Board Member Dayne Kono; Council Members Marion Friebus-Flaman, Kathryn Ibata-Arens, Tomoko Kizawa; Associate Member Ryota Sekine; and friends and family of Members organized and supported the booth.

Mr. Sekine writing guests’ names in Japanese

For more information on the event, please visit the Japan Day Chicago website, this Chicago Tribune article, or this local NPR preview with Mr. Kono.

Annual Conference

Preview: Shibuya Offsite Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

As part of the 2015 Annual Conference, USJC is presenting an offsite breakout session program titled “Immersion into Japan’s Start-Up Culture.” This program, scheduled on November 10, will enable participants to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in Japan’s start-up business environment. The offsite visit in Shibuya will consist of brief presentations by start-ups representing different stages of development, which will include IBM’s role in supporting innovation.

Suzanne Basalla (third from left) and Nobuaki Yasunaga (third from right) visiting the TECH LAB PAAK to prepare for the Annual Conference

USJC Executive Vice President & COO Suzanne Basalla and Director of External Affairs Nobuaki Yasunaga recently visited the venue for the offsite program, TECH LAB PAAK, along with Max Kinoshita of Skyland Ventures and Daiki Hirozawa of East Ventures (who are supporting this program, thanks to introductions by Board Member Paul Yonamine, President of IBM Japan). They also visited a co-work space called #HiveShibuya, which includes a tatami mat space made with recycled tea leaves (sponsored by ITO EN) and may serve as the venue for a mixer with entrepreneurs.

At #HiveShibuya

Innovation is an important topic for this Conference, and we hope many of you will attend this session! Regular registration for the Annual Conference concludes at the end of this month (last call registration will continue afterwards). For more information, please visit the event page.


Recent Programs

The summer is a busy time for the TOMODACHI Initiative! Please see below for a brief glimpse into some our programs’ recent activities.

Eight U.S. students studying Japanese traveled from the State of Washington to Japan on the 2015 TOMODACHI Seattle-Fukushima Grassroots Exchange Program. This program, proposed by USJC Member Dale Watanabe, aimed to give U.S. students an opportunity to utilize their language skills and experience Japanese culture firsthand. The students also acted as ambassadors, showcasing American culture through their program “America In the Schools (AIS),” which allowed the U.S. students to teach Japanese students about the American education system. You can see photos on the program Facebook page here.

Participants of the 2015 TOMODACHI Seattle Fukushima Grassroots Exchange Program during the AIS presentation

Four Randolph Macon College (RMC) students and faculty recently returned from their two-week trip to Japan as the first participants of the TOMODACHI Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund (TAMF) Research Exchange Program. This program offered RMC students the opportunity to conduct field research in Japan, in partnership with Ishinomaki Senshu University. Their research focused on the Tohoku region, and topics included music use in post-traumatic situations, preventative construction guidelines, psychological strategies used in relief programs for children after natural disasters, and the impact of public opinion and political mobilization on recovery efforts. This program was developed to honor the life and legacy of Taylor Anderson, a RMC alumna who perished in the March 11, 2011 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Japan. In September, students and faculty from Ishinomaki Senshu University will travel to RMC and continue their research collaboration. Andy Anderson, the father of Taylor Anderson and co-president of TAMF, will speak at the 2015 USJC Annual Conference this November at a breakout session titled “Corporate Philanthropy in the 21st Century.” Read posts and view photos of the exchange program on their Facebook page.

Participants of the TAMF Research Exchange Program pose for a picture with the girls from Big Up in Minamisanriku

On July 30, USJC staff had the opportunity to sit down with participants of the TOMODACHI ADA25 Lead On! Tour. This program brought 15 Japanese leaders with disabilities to the United States, to join the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th anniversary celebration and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Annual Conference. The conversations that arose from this meeting were extremely important, as they allowed all involved to understand more about living with disabilities and discuss the impact of ADA on life and experiences in the United States and Japan. The tour has proven hugely successful as participants met leaders with disabilities from around the world and brought more awareness to this cause. The TOMODACHI ADA25 Lead On! Tour’s Facebook page can be found here.

TOMODACHI ADA25 Lead On! Participants (See more photos from the July 30 event here.)

For more information about these programs, please see the TOMODACHI website and signup for the TOMODACHI newsletter here.

TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program News

The following piece is by 2013 alumnae of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program Gabrielle Gainor and Kei Tsu, who are working on an upcoming Seattle Opera production called “American Dream” (more information in the Upcoming Events section below). We thank both of them for their contribution!

ELP Alumnae Play Vital Role in Opera Involving Japanese American History

Two alumnae of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program are playing important roles in the creation of a new opera.

(L-R) Ms. Kei Tsu, Ms. Gainor and singer Nina Yoshida Nelsen in between rehearsals for An American Dream

When Seattle Opera’s An American Dream premieres this month, the audience will see a production that’s been shaped in unique ways by Gabrielle Nomura Gainor and Kei Tsu, who first met one another as 2013 Emerging Leaders. Ms. Gainor, a gosei, is now Seattle Opera’s Media Relations Manager, and also serves on the Board of Directors for Seattle JACL and the Editorial Board of National JACL’s Pacific Citizen newspaper, and was previously on USJC’s Communications Committee. Ms. Tsu, a yonsei/sansei, teaches Japanese and Spanish at Kentlake High School in Kent, WA in addition to being a fourth-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Naginata.

“I was the bridge between Seattle Opera and the Nikkei community,” said Ms. Gainor, whose grandfather was born in the Santa Anita Assembly Center before being incarcerated with his family at Heart Mountain. “I would not allow Seattle Opera to use harmful euphemisms to describe the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans in any of our press, marketing or social materials. This proved to be a challenge at times, because words such as ‘camp’ and ‘internment’ are so familiar.”

Ms. Gainor brought in terminology based on Densho (headed by Council Member Tom Ikeda) literature and JACL’s “The Power of Words” handbook to her work place. She ensured that the Japanese and Asian community was involved in the entire process of the opera’s creation; bringing singers to perform at Nikkei Concerns’ retirement home, for example; and roping in her ELP colleague Ms. Tsu as the production’s official Japanese language consultant.

(L-R) Nina Yoshida Nelsen, mezzo-soprano; Adam Lau, bass; and Hae Ji Chang, soprano, singing in the summer 2014 workshop for An American Dream (Photo by Brandon Patoc)

One of Ms. Tsu’s duties was to work with performers on their pronunciation. “One character, ‘Mama,’ (portrayed by mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen) is a Japanese immigrant,” she said. “I had to think about how a Japanese person would pronounce English words while maintaining comprehensibility, and without it becoming stereotypical.”

Conductor Judith Yan makes her Seattle Opera debut in An American Dream (Photo by Alan Alabastro)

Ms. Tsu and Ms. Gainor have stayed in touch since their ELP days, and think it was fun and rewarding for the colleagues and friends to reunite.

“This has been incredibly powerful and personal work,” Ms. Tsu said.

An American Dream premieres at Seattle Opera on August 21 and 23 (Vice Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors Norman Mineta will be speaking at the post-performance discussion on Sunday). The production is made possible by Community Partners including Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle JACL and the Japanese American National Museum. (Council Member Lori Matsukawa and KING 5 plan to cover the dress rehearsal on August 18.)

To see more information or to buy tickets, click here. Soundbites from the opera are available here.


USJC in the News

Click on the image above to read Suzanne Basalla’s article on USJC’s activities

A number of articles about USJC have been published recently. In an interview with Worldfolio, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye discusses USJC and TOMODACHI activities, touching upon trade and tourism between the two countries.

USJC Executive Vice President & COO Suzanne Basalla recently wrote two articles for nippon.com: one about Japan’s Kakehashi initiative and USJC’s commitment to support it, and another about USJC’s activities and achievements, focusing on diversity and leadership. (These articles are also available in Japanese.)

Member News

Dianne Fukami Gives TEDx Talk

Council Member Dianne Fukami spoke at TEDxPeacePlaza (held in San Francisco) this past May, with the theme “Moving on from adversity – what is the key?”. She discussed the Japanese American experience during the War and the stories of those who survived the Great East Japan Earthquake–and explained how she saw the Japanese characteristic she grew up with as the key to moving on. The video of her talk was recently uploaded here.

Amy Yeung awarded as “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” by ACC

Associate Member Amy Yeung received the “2015 Top 10 30-Somethings” award from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) for her noteworthy accomplishments as the Assistant General Counsel for ZeniMax Media Inc, including her lead role in the company’s U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief, which argued that video games should be protected as artwork under the First Amendment. Click here for more information.

Ms. Yeung was selected out of over 130 global nominations for this award that recognizes in-house counsel in their thirties who showcase “tireless innovation, love of practice and international perspective.” More information is available in ACC’s press release.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Dr. Richard Wood

Former Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Dr. Richard Wood passed away on August 1. Dr. Wood was the President of Japan Society from 2006 to 2009, a chair of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), and Professor and Dean Emeritus at the Yale University Divinity School. In 2010 he was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Government of Japan. Dr. Wood will be missed by the USJC community.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing through September 6 – “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images” Exhibit (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: Ongoing through September 6, during regular museum hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Friday – Sunday 11am to 5pm; Thursdays 12pm – 8pm)
  • Venue: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Council Member Dr. Susumu Ito served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit of Japanese American soldiers, in World War II. During his tour, he took photos of the daily lives of the soldiers and U.S. military history in the making. These photos are currently shown at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in an exhibit called “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images“.

This is the inaugural exhibition in a new series drawn from JANM’s permanent collection. A celebration of the donation by Dr. Ito of his vast archive of photographs and negatives, this exhibit gives the public a rare look at the daily lives of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. To learn more, please view the exhibition’s webpage or this interview of Dr. Ito recently published in the Los Angeles Times.

Click on the image above to read the LA Times’ interview of Dr. Ito

August 11 – Nibei Event with Fred Katayama (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: August 11, 2015 at 6pm – 8pm
  • Venue: The Nibei Foundation (Los Angeles, California)

USJC Board Member Frederick Katayama will give a presentation titled “Get beyond the barbed wire mentality: Embrace your Japanese heritage and get involved in U.S.-Japan relations.” Much of the discussion will focus on USJC’s activities and accomplishments. The presentation is preceded by a dinner and a calligraphy workshop. To register or to see more information, please visit the Nibei Foundation’s website. The deadline for registration is August 9 at midnight.

August 21 & 23 – “An American Dream” Opera (Seattle)

  • Date & Time: August 21 at 8pm, August 23 at 2:30pm
  • Venue: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (Seattle, Washington)

Described as a “provocative drama with local connections,” An American Dream explores the lives of two women during World War II: a German Jewish woman who left her loved ones behind and a Japanese American woman facing the reality of internment. The Seattle Opera is presenting this World Premiere in two performances as a Saturday night performance and a Sunday matinee.

Two 2013 alumnae of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program, Gabrielle Nomura Gainor and Kei Tsu, have played important roles in the creation and shaping of this performance. Vice Chairman of the USJC Board of Councilors Norman Mineta will be speaking post-performance on Sunday.

To see more information or to buy tickets, click here. Soundbites from the opera are available here.

September 28 – AALD Symposium (Kyoto, Japan)

  • Date & Time: September 28, 2015 at 4pm – 5:30pm
  • Venue: Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan)

As part of the Asian American Leadership Delegation program—funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and implemented by the U.S.-Japan Council—six Asian American state legislators, who will be visiting Japan then, will speak at a panel discussion at Ritsumeikan University. They will discuss their varied political journeys from the perspective of leadership diversification.

To learn more and to register, click here.


External Communications Specialist – TOMODACHI Initiative (Tokyo)

Working under the direction of the Executive Director of the TOMODACHI Initiative in Japan, the External Communications Specialist will assist in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic marketing strategy, and will play a critical role in creating a strategic social media plan that promotes the brand and impact of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, recipients of support, other donors and the press. The External Communications Specialist will interact closely with donors and corporate executives to market programs, while working 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.

Click here to see the PDF version of this job description. Click here to see the PDF version of this job description in Japanese. Please note that it is important for the External Communications Specialist to be a native Japanese speaker.

A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website here.