U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 21st, 2016)

USJC New Year’s Reception in Hawaii

Board Members gather with guests: (L-R) Mr. Yosuke Honjo, Ms. Susan Eichor, Ms. Wendy Abe, Mr. Robert Ichikawa, Mr. Dennis Teranishi, Mr. Michael Hirai, Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, Ms. Yoko Misawa, Mr. Colbert Matsumoto, Consul General Yasushi Misawa

On January 12, USJC welcomed more than 70 members and supporters to a New Year reception in Honolulu.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Chairman Dennis Teranishi and others thanked former Members of the Board of Directors Michael Hirai, Robert Ichikawa and Colbert Matsumoto, all based in Hawaii, for their six-plus years of service on the Board. They also welcomed Wendy Abe and Susan Eichor as new Hawaii-based Members of the Board of Directors (please see details in the Announcement section below).

Irene Hirano Inouye addresses guests

Speakers at the event included Mr. Matsumoto, who gave a strong speech about the Consuls General & Japanese American Leaders Meeting in 2004. He and Mr. Ichikawa had attended this meeting, and heard Senator Daniel Inouye’s remarks about the importance of U.S.-Japan relations. Mr. Matsumoto said that the Senator’s words felt like a forerunner to the formation of USJC.

USJC Associates pose for a photo: (L-R) Mr. Teranishi, Mr. Nate Gyotoku, Mr. Kenshiro Uki, Ms. Lynn Miyahira, Ms. Margot Sakazaki, Ms. Aki Marceau, Ms. Nicole Velasco, Ms. Hirano Inouye, Mr. Brandon Marc Higa, and Mr. Kent Walther

The reception also discussed the 2015 Annual Conference held in Tokyo this past November, and ongoing preparations for the upcoming 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley.

Attendees included new Board Member Yosuke Honjo, 2016 JALD Delegate Stan Masamitsu, and Associates (and ELP alumni) Nate Gyotoku, Brandon Marc Higa, Aki Marceau, Lynn Miyahira, Margot Sakazaki, Kenshiro Uki, Nicole Velasco and Kent Walther. Consul General Yasushi Misawa and his wife, Ms. Yoko Misawa, also attended.

Recent Events

USJC Members and Staff Enjoy Allegiance – New York

USJC members, staff and friends gather at the theater under Mr. Takei’s photo

USJC members have been enjoying the musical Allegiance–many have seen it multiple times–supporting the show’s content and its creator, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors George Takei. On January 10, New York-based Council Members/Leaders Julie Azuma and Susan Onuma hosted a mini-gathering as they brought friends to the theater. They were joined by Associate Member Georgette Furukawa-Martinez, USJC Director of Education Mya Fisher and Communications Manager Shiori Okazaki, who visited from Washington, DC to see the show.

A teaser of the musical in Times Square

The musical is inspired by events that happened to Mr. Takei, who himself stars in it. He brought to the stage the word “gaman,” which is featured prominently in the show as the Japanese American characters endure the war, internment and mistreatment, and strive to keep family ties strong.

At the talk back after the show, Mr. Takei shared his experience being interned as a boy, being further relocated because of his family’s response to the U.S. government’s loyalty questionnaire, and decades later, testifying about it and being part of the movement that led to reparation.

(L-R) Actors Greg Watanabe, Michael K. Lee, Scott Wise, George Takei and Telly Leung at the talk back

During the talk back, the audience also asked Mr. Takei and the other actors what they thought about the prejudice that Muslim immigrants to the United States are now facing. Drawing upon his own experience during the war, Mr. Takei said that “it is uncanny that we are here again now.” Actor Michael K. Lee, who plays the character Frankie Suzuki, said, “It is a special experience to be part of Allegiance now, to be able to remind the audience to stand up against social circumstance.” Actor Greg Watanabe, who plays Mike Masaoka, drew parallels from history, saying that prejudice against Asian Americans “didn’t start with internment; it started as soon as Asians immigrated into the U.S.” He added, “we have to stand up and defend our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Allegiance is playing at the Longacre Theatre through February 14. Tickets are available here.

USJC members and staff with Mr. Watanabe (center), who plays Mike Masaoka

ELP Converse with Irene Hirano Inouye – Honolulu

(L-R) Mr. Walther, Ms. Marceau, Ms. Hirano Inouye, Ms. Miyahira, Ms. Kay Fukunaga, Ms. Velasco

On January 14, while in Hawaii for the New Year’s reception (see above), Irene Hirano Inouye had breakfast with USJC Associates and ELP alumni. Many of them had also attended the reception just days before, and enjoyed the opportunity for more in-depth conversations!


TOMODACHI Sumitomo Scholars Winter Leadership Program in NY and DC

Sumitomo Scholars with USJC members at the Nippon Club in New York

During the first week of January, three of the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholars who are currently studying in the United States for a year visited New York City and Washington, DC. This week-long leadership program was hosted and organized by Sumitomo Corporation of the Americas (SCOA), particularly the Corporate Communications division, which is led by Council Member/Leader Jewelle Yamada. The students engaged with USJC members in a variety of ways, including hospitality dinners (in DC with Council Members/Leaders Mari Kuraishi, Margaret Cummisky and Amy Yamashiro) and group dinners (in New York with Council Members/Leaders Julie Azuma and Susan Onuma), roundtable or small group discussions, and a one-on-one meeting with Irene Hirano Inouye.

Students in a product development lab at Presperse, a SCOA subsidiary in New Jersey

The program gave the students an opportunity to learn more about Sumitomo and its activities, through meetings with executives across the company, as well as site visits to subsidiaries. In New York, the students did a homestay program with SCOA executives, had a seminar-like discussion at Columbia University with the Director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business, visited the 9-11 Museum, and saw Les Miserables on Broadway.

In DC, they attended a dinner with a diverse group of young professionals, including TOMODACHI alumni. They also joined a breakfast roundtable with USJC staff, professionals working in U.S.-Japan relations, and college students, discussing topics like managing first impressions, overcoming struggles, following your passion, women in leadership and future goals. Students returned to their home campuses energized about the upcoming semester and excited about the ways they can contribute to U.S.-Japan relations as part of the TOMODACHI Generation.

At the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC

“My overarching career goal is to provide immigrant children in Japan with linguistic support. This scholarship program, especially through the week in the East Coast, has given me crucial opportunities to meet a number of professionals in international relations and education,” said Tomoko Oyama, who is studying Linguistics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“The most memorable thing for me was meeting with Irene Hirano Inouye, the President of USJC. We discussed why there was less interest in U.S.-Japan relations and how to encourage young Japanese people to study abroad. Because of this discussion, I came to think that I would like to do something to encourage science students to go abroad and interact with people from other backgrounds,” said Natsumi Komatsu, currently at Rice University studying Physics.

We thank Sumitomo for their support and look forward to seeing the students again!

With Irene Hirano Inouye at the USJC office in Washington, DC

Two schools selected for the 2016 TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program

USJC was awarded 50 new slots for American college students to travel to Japan this spring as part of the 2016 TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program. This year, Emerson College (Boston, MA) and the University of Hawaii at Hilo (Hilo, HI) were selected as the schools for the program, which is part of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ KAKEHASHI project and honors the late Senator Daniel Inouye. Council Member/Leader Paul Niwa will be leading journalism students from Emerson on the program. Be on the look out for program updates and announcements in future newsletters!


  • 2016 Junior Summit:
    Opportunity for U.S. high school students to attend the J-7 Summit in Mie, Japan. See the flyer for more information. Click here to apply now! Application Deadline: February 1, 2016
  • 2016 Nakatani RIES Fellowship for U.S. students:
    Opportunity for U.S. undergraduates interested in science and engineering for summer study and research in Japan. For more information, please see: //nakatani-ries.rice.edu/. Application Deadline: February 1, 2016


USJC Welcomes New Board Members

We are proud to welcome the following individuals to our Boards:

  • Ms. Wendy Abe – Executive Director, Palama Settlement
  • Ms. Susan Eichor – President and COO, aio
  • Ms. Leona Hiraoka – Principal Partner, Integrated Media, and Vice-President, Communications, Points of Light (new USJC Communications Committee Chair)
  • Mr. Yosuke Jay O. Honjo – CEO, ITO EN US Group
  • Ms. Tomoko Kizawa – Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP (new USJC Audit Committee Chair)
  • Mr. Dennis R. Sugino – Senior Advisor, Aristotle Capital Management, LLC (new USJC Investment Committee Chair)

Ms. Phyllis Campbell (Chair, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Pacific Northwest), previously a Member of the Board of Directors, is now Vice-Chair.

Please click here to see their bios.

We would like to thank previous Board Members Mr. Michael Hirai (who served as Vice-Chair), Mr. Robert Ichikawa (who served as Membership Committee Chair), Mr. Thomas Iino (who is Founding Chairman and served as Audit Committee Chair), Mr. Fred Katayama (who served as Communications Committee Chair), Mr. Colbert Matsumoto and Ms. Moni Miyashita.

  • Mr. Paul Yonamine – Country General Manager and President, IBM Japan, Ltd.

Mr. Yonamine, previously a Member of the USJC Board of Directors, is now Chair of the Board of Councilors (please see the announcement in this press release). The previous Chair, Dr. Daniel Okimoto, is now Chair of the Silicon Valley-Japan Platform. We thank Dr. Okimoto for all he has done to further the Council’s mission and for his continued commitment moving forward.

Save the Date! 2016 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference: Nov. 14-15, 2016

Imagine. Innovate. Inspire. – The Silicon Valley Experience

USJC is pleased to announce its Seventh Annual Conference, to be held in Silicon Valley, California from November 14 to 15, 2016. (There will also be TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders and members programming on Nov. 12 and 13, respectively.) The venue details are as follows:

November 14-15, 2016
Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
5101 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Please save the date and join us in November! Held in the epicenter of high-tech startups and development, this year’s Conference will be an opportunity to advance an innovative agenda in U.S.-Japan relations, exchange views among leaders about challenges and opportunities, and identify ways that the U.S.-Japan relationship can be strengthened. It will be attended by hundreds of distinguished American and Japanese leaders from all sectors, providing a unique opportunity for learning and networking, and will highlight innovation, entrepreneurship and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

Conference registration and hotel reservations will open and be available online in the coming months. Further updates will also be included in the USJC newsletter.

The 2016 USJC Annual Conference is made possible by our generous sponsors. To learn about sponsorship opportunities for the Annual Conference and other USJC events, please contact Development Coordinator Dana Fager at [email protected] (U.S.) or Director of External Affairs Nobuaki Yasunaga at [email protected] (Japan).

Upcoming Events

January 31 (NEW DATE) – JCAW Presents: Shinshun Matsuri 2016 (Washington, DC)

Looking for a way to ring in 2016? The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C. (JCAW) is holding a “Japanese New Year Celebration” this January.

The festival includes performances such as traditional dances, cultural games, origami and calligraphy workshops. Love food? The event boasts a large selection of Japanese cuisine from local restaurants, including zouni, takoyaki and oden. There will also be a mochi-making demonstration!

To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit the JCAW event page.

Please note that the date of the Shinshun Matsuri has changed: it will now be held on January 31.

February 27, March 2 & March 3 – Persona Non-Grata (Washington, DC & Bethesda, MD)

USJC is proud to promote the showing of Persona Non-Grata, which celebrates the life of Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sugihara and his efforts to aid the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees from World War II Europe. The film screening is part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF), “one of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America” that occurs annually. This year, WJFF is running from February 24 to March 6.

The film will be screened three times during the festival.

  • Saturday, February 27, 1:30 pm – DCJCC
  • Wednesday, March 2, 8:45 pm – Bethesda Row Cinema
  • Thursday, March 3, 8:45 pm – West End Cinema

If you wish to attend, please purchase tickets here.

A scene from the film, with actor Toshiaki Karasawa

Ongoing – “Allegiance” The Musical (New York, NY)

“An important show with a phenomenal cast, it deserves to be seen!” – Entertainment Weekly

When USJC Board of Councilors Member George Takei first envisioned the idea of a Japanese American themed musical back in 2008, he never knew if it would ever come to fruition. Seven years later, Allegiance is on Broadway and is loved by those who see it!

The musical is “inspired by true events”– and follows the story of the Kimuras, a Japanese American family dealing with a post-Pearl Harbor America. Allegiance touches on many aspects of the Japanese American condition during World War II– from fighting for the United States military, to protesting the internment, to keeping the family united in uncertain times.

Starring George Takei himself (known for his role in the original Star Trek series) and Lea Salonga (known for her performances both on Broadway and in Disney movies), this powerful performance should not be missed!

To learn more about the musical or to purchase tickets, please visit its website. The musical only runs through February 14th, so make sure to reserve your tickets now!

Ongoing – Out of the Desert: Resilience and Memory in Japanese American Internment (New Haven, CT)

After more than a year of curatorial work, the exhibition “Out of the Desert: Resilience and Memory in Japanese American Internment” is now open at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library. This is Yale Library’s inaugural exhibition to draw from multiple archives across the university. It is also the first-ever exhibit centered on Asian American history.

The exhibit can be traced back to the 2013 USJC Annual Conference in Washington, DC. At the conference, USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa introduced Courtney Sato (ELP ’13) to Council Member Delphine Hirasuna, curator of the exhibit “The Art of Gaman.” After meeting Ms. Hirasuna, Ms. Sato began research to identify internment materials already housed in Yale’s collections. She quickly uncovered a vast but largely unknown collection of materials related to internment.

The work features a digital touchscreen exhibit that is live at outofthedesert.yale.edu. Visitors to the website can scroll through exhibit materials, including a copy of the 1943-1944 Manzanar High School Yearbook, engineering maps of Poston, correspondence between internees and Quaker activists, and handmade Junior Red Cross scrapbooks. The exhibition will run through February 26, 2016.



USJC seeks a talented, dynamic individual for a newly-created position of Executive Director, U.S.-Japan Council (Japan). The Executive Director will provide leadership and oversight of the Council’s general programs and activities and of the TOMODACHI Initiative. This will include responsibility for the implementation of program goals and objectives, providing leadership and oversight of program development and management, fundraising, communications and operations. The Executive Director will be based in Tokyo and manage the staff in Japan and will work closely with the U.S.-Japan Council (U.S.) staff in the United States.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.


USJC is seeking a full-time Executive Director for the Council’s newest initiative, the Silicon Valley – Japan Platform (SVJP). The Executive Director position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC’s Silicon Valley Project, including: office management; executive and organizational support for the Executive Director, Chairman and Executive Committee, SVJP; and general administrative support duties. Travel, especially between Japan and Silicon Valley, is expected.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.


The position will have primary responsibility for engagement of the approximately 400 Council Leaders/Members who comprise the membership of the organization, the majority of whom are Japanese American and all of whom are leaders committed to U.S.-Japan relations. Council Leaders/Members live and work across the United States and in Japan, represent different generations, and come from diverse professional backgrounds. Additionally, this position will be responsible for engagement and outreach of Corporate Partners, as well as leaders of other organizations with aligned mission and purpose. The position will develop outreach and engagement strategies, plan and implement regional educational programs and networking, and amplify the impact of the organization through the activities of its Council Leaders/Members. The position requires an individual who is flexible, experienced, diplomatic, able to multi-task and prioritize, well-organized, able to plan and meet deadlines, an excellent communicator in writing and verbally, and is comfortable working independently and as part of a team. Frequent short-duration travel throughout the United States and occasionally to Japan is anticipated.

For the full description, please visit the job posting on our website.


Working under the Executive Director of TOMODACHI, the Program Manager is responsible for helping to find, select, develop, manage, monitor and evaluate TOMODACHI programs, including managing relationships with implementing organizations. The Program Manager will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members in the implementation of this mission.

For more information and to apply, click here.