U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 19th, 2017)

Japanese American Leaders Meet with Japanese Ambassador and Consuls General

Irene Hirano Inouye and Minister Takuya Sasayama, Co-Chairs of this year’s CG-JA

On January 11, prominent Japanese Americans selected by their respective Consuls General from across the United States participated in a discussion with Japanese government leaders as part of MOFA’s annual meeting of the Ambassador, Consuls General and Japanese American Leaders (CG-JA) in Washington, DC.

Council Leader Glen Gondo (left) and Vice-Chair of the USJC Board of Directors Gary Moriwaki (right) with Irene, at the welcoming dinner on January 10

The discussion focused on several key issues for the Japanese government and regions across the United States, including strengthening regional ties, public diplomacy and bilateral exchange programs. Participants shared their views on the U.S.-Japan relationship under the new U.S. presidential administration, the importance of continuing support for programs that strengthen mutual interests and build goodwill between the two countries (TOMODACHI Initiative, KAKEHASHI Project, etc.), opportunities to build new U.S.-Japan relationships across different regions and communities, and more. Participants also shared information about upcoming anniversaries and special events, including the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and educational opportunities connected to it.

Ambassador Sasae welcoming guests to his residence

Following the meeting, Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae hosted a lunch at his residence for the JA leaders, Consuls General and Honorary Consuls General. After the Ambassador’s speech, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye gave special remarks.

Some of the many USJC members who represented their regions as Japanese American leaders: Board Member Tasha Yorozu, and Council Leaders John Okamoto, John Tobe, Tim Higashide and Glen Gondo (pictured with Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC Director of External Relations Wendy Abe and Marilyn Schlief)

The CG-JA meeting is an annual collaborative effort between the Embassy of Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council. This year, the discussion was co-chaired by Irene Hirano Inouye and Minister Takuya Sasayama.

Council Leader Bruce Hollywood, Planner at the U.S. Department of Defense (not pictured), also spoke at CG-JA and gave fellow Japanese American leaders a tour of the Pentagon

Click here to see more photos.


2016-17 TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars visit DC for Winter Leadership Program

Sumitomo Scholar Ryu Nagae (right, foreground) laughs with (L-R) Council Leader Jewelle Yamada, USJC Director of Development Deborah Grant and USJC Associate Kenta Umetsu

On January 11, five of the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars met with Irene Hirano Inouye while they were in Washington, DC for a winter leadership program, which is hosted by Sumitomo Corporation of Americas and organized by USJC Council Leader Jewelle Yamada. Topics of their discussion with Irene included the future of U.S.-Japan relations, the relevance of Japan in the minds of Americans, and how Japanese Americans reconcile their identity with what happened during World War II. That evening, USJC hosted a networking dinner for the students, introducing them to a variety of U.S.-Japan professionals as well as new USJC Associate Kenta Umetsu.

(L-R) Irene Hirano Inouye with Sumitomo Scholars Ami Bessho and Hotsuki Hayama

The students also visited New York City as part of the leadership program. They stayed with host families, visited the 9-11 Museum, joined in a discussion at Columbia University and learned about Sumitomo Corporation’s operations in the United States and around the world. The program concluded with a celebration dinner in New York City, which was attended by a number of USJC members.

The five scholars (including Ryoko Tsukada (center) and Naoki Tokunaga (second from right)) with Irene

Click here to see more photos from the leadership program.


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)

We are pleased to announce that our 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

Leona Hiraoka Becomes President & CEO of KEIRO

Congratulations to Member of the USJC Board of Directors Leona Hiraoka, who just became the new president and CEO of KEIRO, a Los Angeles-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of senior life in the community. Click here to read the KEIRO press release, and here to read a Rafu Shimpo article about her appointment. (KEIRO also welcomed USJC Board Member Dennis Sugino to their Board of Directors.)

Ms. Hiraoka is also the CEO and founding partner for Integrated Media, a marketing and communications firm, and is Vice President, Communications, for Points of Light in Washington, DC, an international nonprofit dedicated to advancing volunteer service and corporate social responsibility. She took part in the 2014 Japanese American Leadership Delegation. She has been very active in the USJC community, joining the Board of Directors, providing guidance to USJC’s communications efforts, and through Integrated Media, supporting the creation and design of the USJC introductory video and the past few Annual Reports.

Keiko Orrall: Connecting Japanese American and Japanese Leaders with the New Administration

Also part of the 2014 Japanese American Leadership Delegation was Keiko Orrall, Massachusetts State Representative and Council Leader, who visited the USJC DC office on January 18 while she was in town for the inauguration.

Rep. Orrall is a newly elected member of the Republican National Committee and chair of Massachusetts. She is also part of the Trump Asian American Advisory Committee, and may be the only Japanese American member. While at the USJC office, she met Minister Kenichi Kobayashi, Minister of Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Japan, and said that she wants to help support U.S.-Japan relations. (She was connected to Minister Kobayashi through Boston Consul General Rokuichiro Michii.)

JALD was Rep. Orrall’s first trip to Japan. She has been active in the USJC community since then, supporting TOMODACHI and Regional Women in Leadership events in Boston.

Colleen Hanabusa Featured in NBC Asian America

Rep. Orrall (left) and Ms. Hiraoka (right) during the 2014 JALD program

Last November, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Colleen Hanabusa was elected once again as the representative for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives. She previously served two terms in this same position. Rep. Hanabusa notes that her return is “bittersweet” because she is completing the term of the late Rep. Mark Takai (who was also a member of the USJC Board of Councilors, and very active in the U.S.-Japan community).

NBC Asian America recently wrote an article about her, as part of a feature about Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the House of Representatives. Click here or on the image below to read more about Rep. Hanabusa’s life and career, including becoming the first Asian American woman to serve as president of the Hawaii State Senate in 2007, and what she hopes to accomplish going forward.


Upcoming Events

2017 Japanese New Year Celebration (Shinshun Matsuri)


When: January 29, 2017 at 11am – 3:30pm
Where: Washington Marriott Wardman Park

The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC (JCAW) and JCAW Foundation, Inc. will be hosting a Japanese New Year Celebration to ring in the new year! You will have the opportunity to enjoy performances, cultural games and activities, Japanese festival food and more.

Advance tickets ($8; credit card only) must be purchased by 5:00pm on Friday, January 27. Tickets are also available at the door ($10; cash only). Children 12 and under enter free.

For more information, please visit the event 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.

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” (Oita, Okayama, Nagano and Shizuoka) have been invited.

For more information, please click here. Registration and lodging information is forthcoming.


 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.

Program Coordinator (Washington, DC)

USJC is seeking a Program Coordinator to support the Programs Team.

We seek a candidate who is committed to the goals of the organization and can bring enthusiasm and commitment to program coordination, primarily with signature programs such as the TOMODACHI Initiative, the Watanabe-endowed Scholarship, our Annual Conference, and the Council’s regional programs, as well as other leadership and diversity programs.

This position offers an opportunity to make an impact in a growing non-profit and network with prominent leaders at the forefront of U.S.-Japan relations. Fluency in English is required and Japanese language proficiency is desirable.

Click here for more information about the position.

Click here to see a downloadable PDF.