U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (February 16th, 2017)

On Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Washington, DC and Florida

The U.S.-Japan Council extends congratulations to Prime Minister Abe and President Trump for the productive meetings in Washington, DC and Florida held last week. As an organization that is dedicated to building lasting people-to-people connections to ensure a strong relationship between the United States and Japan, the formal and informal meetings were an important and promising beginning to developing mutual understanding between Prime Minister Abe and a new U.S. president. We look forward to future efforts to strengthen our two economies through enhanced trade, a continuation of our strong security alliance, expanded educational and cultural exchanges, and peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

Prime Minister Abe and President Trump shake hands (Photo courtesy of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet’s Twitter page, @kantei)

We recognize that our efforts to build a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is in the best interest of both countries and its peoples. When countries become enemies, the outcomes can be monumental. We reflect upon the signing of Executive Order (EO) 9066 by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, which resulted in the unjust incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Forty-six years later, the U.S. Congress and President Reagan formally apologized and provided token monetary reparations with the passage of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will open exhibitions and educational programs this month on Executive Order 9066.

Banners showcasing the JANM exhibition on EO 9066 (Photo courtesy of JANM’s Facebook page)

At the January 2017 Annual Meeting of the Japanese Ambassador, Consuls General of Japan, and Japanese American leaders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs encouraged Japanese diplomats to attend and support commemorative events related to the 75th anniversary of EO 9066. This was a significant message reflecting how far our two countries have come since the end of World War II, as well as the collaboration and respect that has developed between Japanese Americans and the Government of Japan.

As Prime Minister Abe and President Trump begin to work together, we are committed to working with government, business and civil society leaders in both countries to ensure a vibrant and dynamic U.S.-Japan relationship. We hope to strengthen this relationship by enhancing the diversity of leaders committed to it, and by increasing positive and productive cooperation that benefits both countries and the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the Prime Minister’s visit, see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage here.

For the joint statement by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, please click here.

Recent Events

JALD Orientation

Members of the 2017 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) gathered on February 3 and 4 in Los Angeles for an intensive two-day orientation. The meetings were held at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Little Tokyo and were facilitated by USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa, along with Consul Shigeru Kikuma of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.

JALD delegates (L-R) Leslie Ito, Roy Hirabayashi and Sawako Gardner

On February 3, Mitch Maki (JALD ’02) led the group on an in-depth tour of the exhibition, Common Ground, the Heart of Community. Hideki Hara, Director of the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles, welcomed the delegates, and USJC Board Member Yuko Kaifu presented on current social issues and Japanese business etiquette. Consul General Akira Chiba and his wife Yuko hosted the delegates, along with several local program alumni, for a welcome dinner at their residence on Friday evening. Guests were delighted when the Consul General invited the delegates to participate in the mame maki ritual of throwing beans in honor of Setsubun, or the start of spring.

On February 4, Consul General Chiba provided a briefing on U.S.-Japan Relations under the new administration. Tom Le, Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College, lectured on Japan’s culture of peace and international relations. Council Leaders and program alumni Stan Koyanagi, Debra Nakatomi and Mark Yokoyama spoke about the impact of JALD on their lives and their engagement with USJC. They also provided the delegates with a helpful overview of what to expect for their trip to Japan. On Saturday evening, the Japanese Business Association of Southern California (JBA) hosted a networking dinner for their members and the delegates at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) to conclude the orientation. Special thanks to the Consulate, JBA, and JACCC for their gracious hospitality.

The 2017 JALD delegation with Irene Hirano Inouye (center) at JANM

The 2017 delegation is composed of eleven leaders in fields that include business, finance, government, law, arts and culture. They are from Los Angeles and San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Hilo, Hawaii; Chicago, Illinois; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; New York City; Salem, Oregon; Alexandria, Virginia; and Seattle, Washington, and are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to furthering relationships between Japanese Americans and Japan.

The group will travel to Tokyo and Kanazawa from March 3 to 11, where they will meet with top business and government officials and participate in a symposium co-hosted by USJC and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

More information and delegate biographies can be found here and more photos from the orientation can be viewed here.

USJC Midwest Region Discusses Womenomics

On January 20, members in the Midwest region welcomed USJC Board of Directors Vice Chair Royanne Doi for a lecture in Chicago. Ms. Doi provided the members with a brief update on Japan’s Womenomics in the context of her own professional journey. She spoke about the seven secrets to her early success, three common mistakes mid-level managers make that sabotage their success, and how to turn differences into competitive advantages.

Royanne Doi (center) with USJC members and guests in Chicago

Hawaii Members’ Event Highlights AALD Alumni

Sen. Will Espero speaks about his experience as an AALD delegate

At the Hawaii membership event on February 1, State Senator Will Espero and State Representative Mark Nakashima shared their experiences as members of the Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) who traveled to Japan for a week of educational and leadership opportunities. They shared that meetings with business and government executives were the highlights of their trip, and that the opportunity to speak about various business and policy issues have broadened their perspectives as state legislators and policy makers.

Senator Espero reported that all members of his 2016 delegation were born abroad: a fact unique to his AALD class. Representative Nakashima, who participated in 2015, remarked that although he had visited Japan before, the AALD experience was like no other and left an indelible impression on him. Both delegates expressed that the opportunity to meet other delegates from various states was another highlight of AALD.

USJC Associates and friends were among the audience

The AALD program provides the opportunity for a select group of Asian American leaders from across the United States to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic and nonprofit sectors. AALD is funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.


Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program

Applications for the 2017 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program are now open! The program will accept 10 American and 10 Japanese young professionals from both the public and private sectors. They will travel to each other’s countries to discuss innovation, technology and industrial development in the context of U.S.-Japan relations, and meet with business and government leaders. The program is generously funded by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and is now in its fifth year.

The American delegation will travel to Iwate Prefecture and Tokyo, and the Japanese delegation will travel to Houston, Texas and Washington, DC.

See here for more information about the program and how to apply.

2015 Mitsui delegates in Detroit


2017 Annual Conference: Save the Date!


U.S.-Japan Council 2017 Annual Conference
Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together
JW Marriott Washington, DC
November 13-14 (TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program on November 11 and USJC Members Day on November 12)

The 2017 Annual Conference will be held from November 13 to 14 at the JW Marriott Washington, DC. This year, we are returning to our nation’s capital to discuss changes under a new administration. Following an election that divided the nation, we will discuss how to respect differences of opinion and find common ground as we work together toward mutually beneficial goals. At the same time, we will showcase and examine how global perspectives and diversity empower both the United States and Japan. We will exchange views on how international businesses and organizations can continue to expand in a changing political environment, and get work done to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship. We will also provide opportunities to network with stakeholders in the new administration and on Capitol Hill, and provide insight into the political and diplomatic arenas. More information to come soon. Please save the date in your calendar!

Member News

Kenshiro Uki Featured on NHK

USJC Associate and ELP ’14 Kenshiro Uki (Vice President of Operations, Sun Noodle) was interviewed by NHK about the recent popularity of ramen in the United States. He talks about creating craft noodles to complement each restaurant’s ramen, the joys and challenges of producing new and original noodle recipes and expanding the family business.

The segment is in Japanese and interviews with Kenshiro are in English. Click here or on the image below to see more.


Janet Ikeda elected to JNCL-NCLIS Board of Directors

Congratulations to Council Leader Janet Ikeda for being elected to the Board of Directors of the Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS)! JNCL-NCLIS is an organization committed to shaping policy that advocates for learning foreign languages and advancing international education.

Click here to read more.

Upcoming Events

Comedy InvAsian

When: Various dates from February 10 to 26, 2017
Where: Japanese American National Museum

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles will be hosting “Comedy InvAsian,” a live stand-up comedy series featuring six Asian American comedians. Among them are two Japanese American women, Atsuko Okatsuka and Amy Hill. The series is also created by Japanese American producer Koji Steven Sasaki, along with director Quentin Lee. In February, each comedian will perform one-hour live specials at JANM, which will later be aired digitally.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the official website.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II (Day of Remembrance)


When: February 19, 2017
Where: National Museum of American History

On February 17, the National Museum of American History will open a year-long exhibit to mark 75 years since Executive Order 9066 authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. On display will be artifacts, photographs and stories collected from Japanese American families. There will also be public programming throughout the year related to this exhibit.

As part of the exhibit and to reflect upon the day Executive Order 9066 was signed, the Museum will host a Day of Remembrance event on February 19 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. National Museum of Japanese American Memorial Foundation’s Digital Storytelling Project competition awardees will present video clips, followed by a conversation with a wide range of Nisei, moderated by award-winning filmmaker, author and museum curator Dr. Karen Ishizuka.

For more information on the exhibit and the special event please visit the official website.

Encore Performance: George Takei’s Allegiance on the Big Screen

When: February 19, 2017 at 12:55pm
Where: Select Movie Theaters

After an unprecedented cinematic premiere, George Takei’s Broadway musical Allegiance returns to cinemas nationwide for an encore on Sunday, February 19 at 12:55 p.m. local time. This date is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, known as the Day of Remembrance, which marked the beginning of the forced relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. Tickets go on sale on January 23. For more information, click here.

RESILIENCE for the FUTURE: Cross-Border Dialogue with Post-Disaster Social Entrepreneurs


When: March 6, 2017 at 6:00pm
Where: One Battery Park Plaza, New York

This World in Tohoku (WIT) event features Wataru Kainuma (Executive Director and Founder, Urushi Rocks Inc.; Director, Nonprofit Urushi Harunaka Kai), an entrepreneur from Fukushima Prefecture who aims to create a sustainable economy and society by promoting Japan’s long-standing tradition of urushi (Japanese lacquerware). The purpose of the event is also to commemorate the sixth year since the Great East Japan Earthquake. There will be an auction of beautiful urushi ware as well.

WIT is a cross-border social innovation platform that supports social entrepreneurs in the areas affected by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of 2011. It is led by Mio Yamamoto (Executive Director and Co-Founder, WIT), who is a USJC Associate. At this event, WIT will also introduce its cross-border activities to bring about social innovations and develop global citizens. After the talks by Mr. Kainuma and Ms. Yamamoto, participants will take part in a world-café style dialogue to explore how we can create a resilient civil society in Japan, the United States and beyond.

Please visit this page for more details.

Japanese Traditional Comedy Show – Rakugo


When: March 24, 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Jones Hall, University of St. Thomas Houston

This traditional Japanese comedy show, or rakugo, is co-hosted by the Japanese Association of Greater HoustonThe University of St. Thomas HoustonCole Chemical & Distributing, Inc. and USJC. There will be seven Japanese comedians performing and snacks will be provided.

Admission is free but seating is limited. Please RSVP by March 15 by emailing Ms. Ingrid Hill at [email protected].

Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit

When: May 9-11, 2017
Where: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows (Big Island, Hawaii)

The Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, presented by USJC and the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT), is being held to foster tangible, near and long term economic opportunities among Japanese prefectures, the State of Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.

Summit attendees will explore opportunities spanning business, education, tourism and energy, and will forge one-on-one connections that will pave the way for future collaboration and trade.

The Summit will include Governors, government officials and business leaders. Governors from prefectures with State of Hawaii sister partnerships (Ehime, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Okinawa and Hokkaido) as well as those that are part of USJC’s “Governors’ Circle” (Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Oita, Okayama, Nagano and Shizuoka) have been invited.

For more information and to register, please click here.


TOMODACHI Marketing & Communications Manager (Tokyo)

The Marketing & Communications Manager is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic communications program to develop the profile and brand of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience and stakeholders, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, program participants, donors, press and the general public. The Marketing & Communications Manager will work closely with teams within the TOMODACHI Initiative in the implementation of this mission, as well as with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Click here for more information about the position.