U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (February 19th, 2015)

Inaugural Midwest Culinary Diplomacy Event in Chicago

Chef Yoshi and a guest

On February 4th, USJC held the inaugural Midwest Culinary Diplomacy Event at the Chicago neighborhood restaurant, Yoshi’s Café. USJC Members, supporters and friends joined some of Yoshi’s regular diners for a fun evening of networking, inspiration and delicious cuisine.

Consul General Yoshida speaking to guests (Seated: Mrs. Yoshida)

Chef Yoshi Katsumura and his wife, Nobuko, opened their café to this special event, sharing a creative feast that combined Midwest classics with a unique Japanese flavor. Chicago Consul General Masaharu Yoshida offered warm opening remarks before the 40+ guests. Chicago-based Board Member Dayne Kono, USJC Executive Vice President & COO Suzanne Basalla and Council Member Kathryn Ibata-Arens shared information on the Council and its programs. The highlight of the evening was the inspiring stories told by three DePaul University students, who recently visited Japan with Dr. Ibata-Arens as TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars. The TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program is designed to honor the legacy of Senator Inouye, and as part of the KAKEHASHI Project, is funded by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the Japan Foundation.

Dr. Ibata-Arens, Ms. Basalla, Mr. Kono and TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars from DePaul University

It is hoped that this special evening of fine dining, community and friendship is the first of many Midwest culinary diplomacy events to come. Special thanks to Chef Yoshi and Nobuko Katsumura for hosting, Ms. Reiko Takahashi for her help with design graphics and photography and to Dayne Kono, George Kobayashi, and the leadership of Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. for their contributions to the evening’s success!


Click here to see more photos from the event.


There are a number of regional TOMODACHI events and activities coming up across the United States. Find out what’s happening near you. Get involved! Come out and support!

Building the TOMODACHI Generation program

Participants and organizers of this year’s Building the TOMODACHI Generation program

The 2015 Building the TOMODACHI Generation program has kicked off in Washington, DC!On Feb. 16, participants of this year’s program gathered for their welcome session at the headquarters of the Washington Center. The participants consist of 20 Japanese college students and 15 American students selected from among those currently studying at the Washington Center. Speakers included Linda Cotton of the Washington Center, Dr. Yoshiaki Abe, representing the U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI), and USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye. All of the speakers encouraged participants to make the most of this opportunity in DC and the time spent with their peers to learn from one another and build relationships. “You are a part of the TOMODACHI Generation,” said Irene Hirano Inouye in her remarks to the students. Through people-to-people relations, this generation of young men and women will strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship through their respective fields and professions.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye addressing the participants

This two-week civic engagement program focuses on strategies for developing cross-sector partnerships to strengthen civil society as a tool for addressing social challenges, particularly following a crisis or natural disaster like the one that struck the Tohoku region. The highlight of the program is the creation of five teams, each comprised of both U.S. and Japanese students. These teams work together for a week to develop a comprehensive cross-sector partnership concept to address the challenges the Tohoku region still faces.If you would like to see the final projects, please join us Friday, Feb. 27, 10a.m.-12:30p.m. for presentations by participants of the Building the TOMODACHI Generation program. This event is open to the public, but you must RSVP here.

TOMODACHI Leadership Conference

The application deadline for the first TOMODACHI Leadership Conference is this Friday, Feb. 20! We are seeking American and Japanese undergraduate/graduate students studying in Central/Northern California to participate in a weekend leadership conference from April 10 to 12. Please share the opportunity with those who might be interested in participating. The conference flyer and information on applying can be found here.

TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars

TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars(DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Honolulu) – From March 4 to 14, 100 Japanese students from four universities will be in the United States for 10 days on the reciprocal portion of this exchange program created in honor of Senator Inouye. The scholars will spend time in DC, LA and a third city. Read more about the USJC faculty leads, program design and reflections by the U.S. students here. To get involved with this program in your area, contact Hiroyo Nonoyama at [email protected].

TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars

For more information about the above programs or to volunteer for opportunities in your area, please contact Mya Fisher at [email protected]. And if you know of exchange or international opportunities for young people (i.e. the TOMODACHI generation) that you would like to share, please submit them for the newsletter.


Mar. 13 – New York Culinary Diplomacy Event

  • Date & Time: Friday, March 13, 2015, 6:30-10:30p.m.
  • Venue: Home Studios (873 Broadway, New York, NY 10003)
  • Event Price: $150.00 per person
    *Only 150 tickets are available. Attendees must be ages 21+ to attend.*

Sharing food from different cultures promotes cross-cultural dialogue and understanding and creates platforms for lasting personal relationships. Inspired by this belief, USJC will host a New York Culinary Diplomacy event.

This event will bring together organizations and individuals in the New York region committed to supporting USJC’s mission to strengthen ties between the United States and Japan by promoting people-to-people relationships to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations. This special evening will benefit USJC regional programs and the TOMODACHI Initiative, and provide an opportunity for networking and future collaborations.

Please register here no later than March 6, 2015.

Mar. 19 – Hawaii as an Innovation Test Bed

  • Date & Time: Thursday, March 19, 2015, 8-9:30a.m. (Registration and breakfast at 7:30a.m.)
  • Venue: The Pacific Club, Card Room (1451 Queen Emma St, Honolulu, HI 96813)
  • Admission: $25 for JASH members, $35 for non-JASH Members

Hawaii has the research, technology, and geographic advantages to be a leading test-bed of international innovation. Join the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) for a panel discussion to learn about an extraordinary collaboration between Japan and Hawaii–the multimillion-dollar JUMPSmartMaui project. This demonstration project will incorporate Smart Grid, renewable energy, and all-Electric Vehicle (EV) solutions to achieve a cleaner future for Maui, and to serve as an exemplar for all of Hawaii and beyond.

Featuring Takashi Hatchoji (Chairman, Hitachi America, Ltd.) as speaker. Moderated by USJC Friend of the Council Tab Bowers (Executive Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, American Savings Bank).

Please register here by March 11, 2015.

Mar. 31 – Updates from Tohoku: A Journey to New Life

  • Date & Time: Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 6-8p.m.
  • Venue: The Red Room at Café 939, Berklee College of Music (939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA)

“Updates from Tohoku, a journey to new life” is a commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011. It is hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, Berklee College of Music, Fish Family Foundation, Japan Society of Boston, and the U.S.-Japan Council / TOMODACHI Initiative. With the purpose to not let Tohoku be forgotten, the event will celebrate the friendship between Boston and Tohoku, and showcase individuals and projects working on the disaster ground, including Shun Kanda of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, Anne Nishimura Morse of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Megumi Ishimoto of Women’s Eyes. Two Berklee students, recipients of the TOMODACHI – Suntory scholarship program, will also perform short pieces as tributes to Tohoku.

Please see this flier for more information and click here to register.


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.

Review of applications will begin February 23, and the preferred start date is April 1. A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website.

U.S. and Japan in the News

  • IMF Shinohara Says More BOJ Easing May Be Needed
    The Wall Street Journal, Feb 19
  • Japan, China may resume security talks in April: sources
    The Japan Times, Feb 19
  • Hitachi develops world’s most powerful electron microscope
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 19
  • Sony outlines 3-year recovery plan, targets $4.2B earnings
    The Washington Post, Feb 18
  • Abe moves to shape national security debate
    The Japan News, Feb 18
  • Japan eyes fine of 1 bil. yen for leaking industrial secrets abroad
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 18
  • Suntory wins 2014 sales crown
    The Japan News, Feb 17
  • Japan to give $15.5 million for anti-terror efforts
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 17
  • Top WSJ Stories on Japan: GDP, Currency Swap Program, Industrial Robot
    The Wall Street Journal, Feb 17
  • Japan pulls out of recession, but economic growth disappoints
    Los Angeles Times, Feb 16
  • South Africa protests apartheid column in Japanese press
    The Washington Post, Feb 16
  • Tokyo University of the Arts partners with schools in U.S., UK, France
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 16
  • Japan, U.S. cooperating on joint document to mark 70th anniversary of war’s end
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 15
  • Honda to reduce vehicle lineup by 20%
    The Japan News, Feb 15
  • American forces in Japan: Showdown
    The Economist, Feb 14
  • Corporations suspected of rigging bids for pavement projects since before 3/11
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 14
  • US appeals to Japanese business to help push for trade pact
    The Washington Post, Feb 13
  • A confident Abe plans drastic reform
    The Japan News, Feb 13
  • Report: Japan’s press freedom deteriorates under state secrets law
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 13
  • Japan’s Abe Faces Uphill Battle in Putting Fiscal House in Order
    The Wall Street Journal, Feb 12
  • District in Tokyo Plans to Extend Rights of Gay Couples
    The New York Times, Feb 12
  • Red Cross chief offers Abe way to help war victims without taking sides
    The Japan Times, Feb 12
  • ODA used as strategy to bolster relations
    The Japan News, Feb 11
  • Japan: JFK gift-giver traced after 53 years
    BBC, Feb 11
  • Japanese book with Muhammad cartoons goes on sale amid criticism
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 11
  • Hostage crisis sharpens focus on Japan’s Middle East risks
    The Washington Post, Feb 10
  • Japan, Thailand to cooperate on railway projects
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 10
  • Japan adopts new aid policy, may aid foreign militaries
    The Japan Times, Feb 10
  • Support rate for Cabinet climbs to 58%
    The Japan News, Feb 9
  • From Soy Sauce To Bullet Trains: Famed Japanese Designer Dies At 85
    NPR, Feb 9
  • BOJ Board Member Warns of Risks from Latest Easing
    The Wall Street Journal, Feb 9
  • Old Ways Prove Hard to Shed, Even as Crisis Hits Kimono Trade
    The New York Times, Feb 9
  • Japan seizes passport of Syria-bound journalist
    BBC, Feb 8
  • Police officers to run in Tokyo Marathon in bid to prevent terrorist attacks
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 8
  • Japan after the tsunami: Grinding on
    The Economist, Feb 7
  • Move to lower voting age from 20 to 18 now a done deal
    The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 7
  • Major companies see boost to sales, profits from weaker yen
    The Japan News, Feb 7
  • Tokyo Population Keeps Growing
    The Wall Street Journal, Feb 6
  • Separation of power generation and transmission to come in 2020
    Mainichi Shimbun, Feb 6
  • Tokyo, Okinawa stuck in cold war over U.S. base
    The Japan Times, Feb 6