Farewell Remarks from Chairman Thomas Iino
The end of the year means it is time to say goodbye as USJC Chairman after 6 years of working with not only a great organization, but an extraordinary group of talented individuals within the Council. As I have stated many times, the seeds to our initiative were planted in the year 2000 when Irene convened a small group of nikkei to meet with Senator Dan Inouye in Los Angeles. The Senator indicated it was now time for Japanese Americans and Japanese to create a bridge of relationships through people-to-people connections. The Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program was born to begin implementing that dream. In 2008, we formally organized to develop a national organization of Japanese Americans dedicated to the cause of enhancing the relationship through a myriad of programmatic endeavors.
Dr. Paul Terasaki, a member of our Board of Councilors and key advisor, said early on that whatever we do, we must be unique and distinctive. Among a myriad of programmatic offerings, our JALD initiative, our Emerging Leaders Program, our governors’ circle initiative, our business networking initiative and our legislative initiative have no peers. Through the unfortunate disaster in the Tohoku region of Japan emerged the TOMODACHI Initiative, which has created its own brand of international cooperation.
Yes, it has been a profound privilege to lead the board through this evolutionary period. As an old Virginia Slim commercial articulated, “baby you have come a long way.” I now look forward to the leadership of Dennis Teranishi. He will have comfort and benefit to work with one of the most talented leaders ever to grace the office of a President in Irene Hirano Inouye. Because of her integrity, commitment and vision, we are poised to move to the next level.
To those who have been part of the journey since inception and to those who are recent participants, let me assure you that you are in store for a wonderful ride into global collaboration. Thanks for the memories, and I know we will always keep the lights on.
Asian American Leadership Delegation Returns Home
As briefly mentioned in our Thanksgiving issue, the Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) returned home after a week in Tokyo and Kyoto. The five state elected officials from diverse Asian American backgrounds and regions (Representative Sylvia Luke – House of Representatives, State of Hawaii; Assemblyman Raj Mukherji – General Assembly, State of New Jersey; Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos – House of Representatives, Washington State; Representative Hubert Vo – House of Representatives, State of Texas; and Representative Donald Wong – House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Massachusetts) traveled to Japan from November 14 to 22. See photos from the program here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usjc/sets/72157648971744579/.
Japanese and American government leaders the legislators met included Mr. Yasuhide Nakayama, State Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Naoki Takashima, President of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government; and Mr. Jason P. Hyland, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Business leaders included representatives of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives); Mr. Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President and CEO of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. and UNIQLO Co., Ltd.; Mr. Yorihiko Kojima, Chairman of the Board of Mitsubishi Corporation; and Mr. Yoshiyuki Kasai, Chairman Emeritus of JR Central. They also met with the Japan Foundation and noted American and Japanese scholars. In Kyoto, the legislators met with Mr. Daisaku Kadokawa, the Mayor of Kyoto; Dr. Koji Murata, the President of Doshisha University; and Mr. Seiki Kuroda, the President of Kyoto Shimbun, among others.
On November 21, the last day of the program, the delegates spoke at a panel discussion in Tokyo titled “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators,” discussing their varied personal and professional journeys as Asian Americans. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye—who accompanied the delegation along with Irene Kawanabe, Director of the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators—served as moderator. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakayama came to the reception afterwards and delivered a toast, explaining that he wanted to do this as his last duty before he returned to his constituency (the House of Representatives had been dissolved earlier that day).
The AALD program is funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and implemented by USJC, in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators and the National Conference of State Legislatures. For more information on the program and biographies of the delegates, see the AALD webpage.
TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program News Corner
Reflection from Kenshiro Uki (ELP 2014)
Two months have passed since the 2014 U.S.–Japan Council Annual Conference in Hawaii has concluded, where I had the great pleasure of connecting with the amazing young leaders selected to represent the 2014 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. We all came together sharing the common goal of strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship and when we left, we all set our sights even higher. As a group, we participated in leadership activities and attended seminars that increased the awareness and importance of being involved in USJC.
The Conference helped me connect with inspirational leaders in their respective industries who are striving to work together to build a stronger foundation for current and future businesses involved in both the U.S. and Japan. Given the opportunity to network with leaders like Honjo-san of Ito En, Dennis Teranishi of PICHTR, and many others, I was motivated to give my utmost effort to become a stronger Japanese American leader, as they have become.
I am happy to report that since the Conference, I have participated and helped establish events and product lineups that represent the Japanese culture to many Americans here in the United States. Our company, Sun Noodle, has launched the first ever fresh ramen kit which you can find on the shelves at all of the Whole Foods stores located in New York City. Focused on educating the buyer with our new products, we designed a new package to make it more appealing, created an insert explaining the history of ramen, and posted online recipe ideas to inspire cooks to make ramen at home. In November, I partnered with the Lucky Rice company to create an event called “Slurpfest.” Diners had 20 minutes to quickly slurp their bowl of ramen and move on to the next yatai (booth) where another chef prepared ramen from a different region in Japan. Why 20 minutes? The average Japanese person can eat a bowl of ramen in 17 minutes, the average diner here in the U.S. will take 40 minutes. We were able to incorporate education, food, and fun all in one event.
Personally, I was selected as a Zagat 30 Under 30 Rising Star, which brought me great joy as I was able to bring honor to the Japanese American community. As a 2014 ELP delegate, we hold the responsibility to contribute to improve U.S.-Japan relations and I believe that the sum of each individuals efforts will result in making great strides to achieve the goal set forth by the U.S.-Japan Council. Please continue to look for the best from the 2014 ELP group.
You can read more about Kenshiro, his father, Hidehito Uki and Sun Noodle in this recent profile from HONOLULU magazine.
Nov. 22 – Japan Food Festival in Houston, Texas
Associate Members and ELP alumni Ginger Koto Vaughn, Miwa Gardner-Page, Adam Moriwaki and Kei Ashizawa with Board of Directors Vice Chair Gary Moriwaki
USJC Council Member Donna Cole, an advisory board member at the University of St. Thomas, helped guide the inaugural Japan Food Festival in celebration of St. Thomas’ new course offerings on U.S.-Japan relations. The event featured culinary and cultural exhibitions. She was assisted by USJC Members and alumni of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program, as well as USJC Executive Vice President and COO, Suzanne Basalla. The event was profiled in the Houston Chronicle.
On November 23, Donna hosted a dinner event for Members and other stakeholders in the U.S.-Japan relationship to share the Council’s mission and programming with the Houston community.
You can see more photos from the event on our Flickr page!
Jan. 25 – Japanese New Year Celebration in Washington
The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC will be holding a Japanese New Year Celebration on Sunday, January 25. The festival will include traditional Japanese performances as well as a variety of family-friendly activities. For more information, see the event flyer here.
U.S. and Japan in the News
- Trio of Japan-Born Physicists Collect Nobel Prize
Japan Times, Dec 11
- Itochu announces massive solar power plant project in Okayama
The Asahi Shimbun, Dec 8
- Japan’s early elections are all about the economy
BBC, Dec 8
- Godzilla: Japan planning to make new monster movie
BBC, Dec 8
- Protesters vow to continue fight to scrap controversial secrecy law
Mainichi Shimbun, Dec 7
- Japan, U.S. to release initiative on 70th anniv. of postwar relations
Mainichi Shimbun, Dec 6
- Japan and Abenomics: Moment of reckoning
The Economist, Dec 6
- Weaker Yen Set to Drive Corporate Profits Higher in 2015
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 5
- Party leaders urged to go see Fukushima’s harsh realities for themselves
Mainichi Shimbun, Dec 5
- Softbank invests in Altaeros’ airborne wind turbine technology
The Asahi Shimbun, Dec 5
- Japan’s SoftBank invests $250m in GrabTaxi
BBC, Dec 4
- Toyota Tsusho venture begins lithium production in Argentina
The Asahi Shimbun, Dec 4
- Japanese space explorer to blow crater in asteroid
Los Angeles Times, Dec 4
- Is ‘Womenomics’ The Answer To Japan’s Economic Woes?
NPR, Dec 3
- Funds to move U.S. marines unfrozen
The Japan News, Dec 3
- Tokyo Keeps Grip on Michelin Top Spot
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 3
- Japan launches space probe to asteroid to ‘clarify origin of solar system’
CNN, Dec 3
- Japan election campaign starts with economy, security on agenda
Mainichi Shimbun, Dec 2
- Square Enix to start video game streaming service for smartphones, tablets
The Asahi Shimbun, Dec 2
- Honda’s new ‘Grace’ hybrid sedan goes on sale in Japan
The Asahi Shimbun, Dec 1
- A framework for resolving Japan-China dispute over islands
Los Angeles Times, Dec 1
- Akihiko Otsuka, Creator of Pocari Sweat, Dies at 77
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 1
- How (not) to drink the world’s best whisky
CNN, Dec 1