U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 17th, 2019)

Watanabe Scholarship: 2019 Applications Now Open!

Applications for the 2019-20 U.S.-Japan Council Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Program are available now! This program provides financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students for a semester or year-long study abroad program in either the United States or Japan. A generous endowment gift of $10 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe to USJC makes it possible to award scholarships to students for whom study abroad would not be possible without financial support. 2019 marks the second year to support American students studying abroad in Japan, and the fourth year for Japanese students studying abroad in the United States.

For information on eligibility and how to apply, please click here. The deadline to apply is February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm.

Recent Events

Japan Flood Friendship Fund Provides Relief to Those Affected

In response to extreme flooding in July 2018, USJC established the Japan Flood Friendship Fund (JFFF) in collaboration with other organizations—the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i and the United States-Japan Foundation—to offer support for relief and recovery to the flood-affected areas in Western Japan. Each of the organizations informed their stakeholders, and many individuals contributed to the Fund from around the country.

We express our sincere appreciation to all those who donated. Thanks to your generous donation, the Fund provided financial support to four organizations: Civic Force, Japan Platform, Japan Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD) and the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV). Each of these outstanding nonprofit organizations in Japan are continuing to support the needs of those impacted by the disaster. We are grateful for their partnership and their commitment to relief and recovery. Below is a summary highlighting their activities that were funded by JFFF.

Civic Force

Civic Force operated three mobile “home visit nurse station” clinics in Mabicho, Okayama Prefecture, supporting elderly people who were unable to visit doctors because of their health or disrupted roads. Civic Force also distributed books to children in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture via a mobile library “Book Bus.” They also conducted search and rescue operations, distributed emergency relief supplies and provided air conditioning equipment.

Children take advantage of the opportunity to read books in the Book Bus (Photo courtesy of Civic Force)

Japan Platform

In Ehime Prefecture, Japan Platform worked with their implementer PARCIC and supported those in temporary housing in farming and fishing towns. They provided relief supplies and information on official assistance, set up a place where people could receive consultation, and provided equipment for a deep-sea survey to improve fishing grounds. Japan Platform also worked with the NPO Second Harvest Japan in Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime Prefectures, providing food assistance to 397 households.

Food delivery with Second Harvest Japan (Photo courtesy of Second Harvest Japan)

Japan Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD)

JVOAD (which was established in 2016 by a cohort of NPO leaders who participated in the TOMODACHI NGO Leadership Program supported by J.P. Morgan) assisted local governments to provide more nutritious food, better sleeping beds, and improved communication at evacuation centers. They also collaborated with volunteer centers and local governments to remove debris, and helped clean homes. In Uwajima and Seiyo cities in Ehime Prefecture, JVOAD helped coordinate meetings with the Agriculture Coop, local governments, and NPOs, and created a volunteer center to assist orange farms, which is a vital industry in the region.

Coordinating meetings with local governments, social welfare organizations and local NPOs (Photo courtesy of Japan Platform)

Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV)

Working in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, PBV set up volunteer centers and satellites to cover large areas, and supported day-to-day volunteer management. They also assisted the volunteers who cleaned houses damaged by the floods. They helped 24 evacuation locations prepare food, laundry, beds, bathrooms, etc. PBV also helped form new communities in temporary housing areas, and continues to listen to local residents about their needs.

PBV helped form new communities in temporary housing areas (Photo courtesy of PBV)


Sumitomo Scholars Visit Washington, DC and New York City

From January 6 to 10, seven Japanese university students who are studying in the United States through the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program visited Washington, DC and New York City. They gathered from their campuses across the country for a week-long winter leadership program hosted by the Sumitomo Corporation of America.

The students kicked off the program in New York. They participated in a roundtable discussion with Professor Hugh T. Patrick, Director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, and visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. They also enjoyed a dinner with USJC members, including Julie Azuma, Eiko Ooka, Toko Serita, Mark Iyeki, Susan Hamaker, Toshiki Nakashige and Taka Juba.

The scholars share a laugh with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye

The students later traveled to Washington, DC. They met with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye to hear about her career and discuss ways to achieve mutual goals over cultural differences. Other highlights of their time in DC included a tour of the U.S. Capitol, a visit to the Embassy of Japan, and dinner with USJC members and young professionals.

One of the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars, Yu Kataoka, who is currently studying at the University of Richmond, said that he enjoyed speaking with USJC members and would like to connect with more of them before the end of his time abroad. Another scholar, Takashi Yoshida, currently studying at the University of California, Berkeley, shared that this trip expanded his views and gave him a motivational boost.


Updates to the USJC Mission and Purpose Statement

We are pleased to share the Council’s updated Mission and Purpose Statement, which was approved by the USJC Board of Directors in December 2018. We believe this will provide guidance for our work in the future, and we look forward to your continued involvement and support. Many thanks go to USJC members who played an important role in shaping this statement!

USJC Welcomes New Board Members

We are proud to welcome the following individuals to the USJC (US) Board of Directors:

  • Todd Guild
    Member of the Board of Directors, Beam Suntory, Inc.
  • Joshua Morey
    President and CEO of The J. Morey Company, Inc.
  • Mark Okada
    Co-founder and Co-Chief Investment Officer, Highland Capital Management, L.P.
  • Yoko Otani
    Partner, Straterix Inc.
  • Rona Tison
    Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations, ITO EN, North America, Inc.
  • William Tsutsui
    President and Professor of History, Hendrix College

Susan Eichor (President and COO, aio) is now a Vice-Chair. We would like to thank the outgoing members of the USJC (US) Board of Directors Tracey Doi and Susan Morita, who are now members of the USJC Legacy Council, and Yosuke Jay O. Honjo, who is now a member of the USJC (US) Board of Councilors.

Upcoming Events

Chiura Obata: An American Modern

(Image: Chiura Obata, Grand Canyon, May 15th, 1940. Collection of Amber and Richard Sakai.)

When: January 18, 2019 – March 10, 2019
Where: Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art (Okayama, Japan)

Chiura Obata (1885–1975) was born in Ibara City and studied nihonga, known as Japanese-style paintings. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1903. During WWII, Obata and his family were incarcerated at the Tanforan detention center in California and the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah; he established art schools at both sites.

The Chiura Obata exhibition first opened in the United States, and will now be presented in Okayama. Around 140 of Obata’s works will be on display, including various kinds of works such as nihonga, watercolour, sumi-e and woodblock. As part of this exhibition, there will be two lectures (on January 19 and February 11), as well as an explanation of the artwork (January 25) on display. While registration is not necessary for these events, tickets for the exhibit are required. For more information, please see details on the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art website (in Japanese), or download the flier here. (General information on hours, admission fees and how to access the museum is available in English here.)

2019 JWLI Spring and Fall Programs Call for Applications

For the 2019 programs, JWLI will be accepting both Spring and Fall applications during the same application period.

Spring Program Dates: April 16, 2019 – May 10, 2019 (tentative)
Fall Program Dates: October 7, 2019 – November 1, 2019 (tentative)Applications for the ​Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (​JWLI​)​ Spring and Fall Programs are now available! Online applications will close at 9pm on January 31, 2019 (ET). JWLI​​ looks forward to reviewing applications from enthusiastic women leaders in Japan. For more information and to apply, please visit the JWLI website. JWLI is led by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish and supported by USJC​​.


Membership Engagement & Regional Coordinator

The Membership Engagement & Regional Coordinator will have primary responsibility for the administrative and operational support of activities relating to the engagement of members, including membership and regional activities. Duties will include leading operational membership activities, database management, monthly reconciliation of membership and donor contributions, and supporting the Director of External Relations in the implementation of regional events and activities.

Click here for more information about the position.

Intern (Washington, DC)

The intern will provide support for Programs and Communications on a part-time or full-time basis. Duties will consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization of and attendance at special events, outreach and communication, writing and translation (if able). This is an excellent internship for those hoping to gain experience in the programmatic, digital and strategic marketing and/or nonprofit fields. USJC’s internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations.

Click here for more information about the position.