U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 31st, 2019)

Fourteenth Meeting between Japanese American Leaders, Japanese Ambassador and Consuls General

Meeting participants at a luncheon hosted at the residence of Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama

On January 18, 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.

The discussion focused on several key issues for the Japanese government and regions across the United States, including new outreach efforts to Japanese American communities throughout the consulate regions. Participants shared their views on the changing narrative of the Japanese American experience, the importance of spreading awareness of Japanese American history among Japanese and younger Japanese Americans, new strategies to build diverse relationships across different regions and communities in both countries, and more. Participants also shared information about upcoming anniversaries and special events, including WakamatsuFest150 in Northern California, which celebrates 150 years of Japanese American heritage, and arts and cuisine at the historic site of the first Japanese colony of immigrants in the United States.

Deputy Chief of Mission Kazutoshi Aikawa speaking at the luncheon reception held at the Ambassador’s residence

Following the meeting, the Embassy of Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission Kazutoshi Aikawa hosted a luncheon reception. Hon. Aikawa, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, and Manuel Morales, Honorary Consul General of Japan at San Juan (PR), gave remarks.

Council Leaders and CG-JA participants June Taylor (CO) and Judge Peter Sakai (TX) gather for a photo with Honorary Consul General of Japan at Buffalo (NY) Joe Koessler

On the evening prior to the meeting, USJC organized a welcome reception at The Monocle Restaurant near Capitol Hill to honor the Japanese American leaders visiting Washington, DC. The reception was attended by local USJC members, representatives of local Japanese American organizations, staff members representing Congressional offices, and the Honorary Consuls & Consuls General of Japan.

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 Kenichiro Mukai (Minister for Management and Coordination, Head of Chancery at the Embassy of Japan).

Click here to see more photos.


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD).

Reflection from David Ono (JALD ’18)

As we approach February, I can’t help but be excited for the new Japanese American Leadership Delegation. It was at this time last year that my journey was just beginning. Orientation for my delegation was Saturday, February 2nd, 2018.

At the JALD orientation a year ago

I recall walking in, only knowing what so many other former delegates told me: “it will be an experience you will never forget.” They were right, of course. Yes, it is as fun as advertised, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to play a very special role in the relationship between two countries. Perhaps MOST importantly, I learned that doing it right takes hard work and requires an attitude that views JALD as a unique responsibility. It’s a privilege so few people get; therefore, it must be taken seriously. These new delegates will quickly discover why they are so thoroughly vetted and carefully considered.

What I didn’t really think about at the time was: what happens when I get back? I guess I assumed my duty would be done, and that I would go back to my old life. But I’m thrilled to say there is no going back. The responsibilities will continue and I cherish that. Quite honestly, I think I love that the most.

With the mayor of Kumamoto City, Mayor Kazufumi Onishi

Irene Hirano Inouye is a powerhouse. She is connected and flawless in her approach. When she reaches out it is significant. Her goal is to build relationships and, with each one, all parties involved are stronger. Through her I’ve continued to meet true leaders who have given me a better understanding of our world. In fact, I visited my family last summer in Kumamoto, and Irene worked it out to where I had a sit down with the Mayor. During our meeting we were able to talk about future projects together. I suddenly found myself in a position to help the city my family has called home for generations. It’s an exciting opportunity that would never have happened without Irene and JALD, and it’s one of many thrilling moments I’ve had since that day one year ago. In hindsight, my experience as a delegate has been a gift and my life experience is greatly enhanced because of it.

To our newest members of JALD, congratulations. You are being invited into a whole new world.

With fellow delegates in Japan


The following video is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Eric Hattori (ELP ’18)


Click here or on the image above to hear about Eric’s experience with the Emerging Leaders Program and his life in Chicago.


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.

Upcoming Events

Chiura Obata: An American Modern

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

When: Ongoing through 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 a lecture on February 11. 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 (Deadline Today!)

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​​.

An American Dream

When: March 15, 2019 at 7pm – 10pm
Where: Harris Theater (Chicago, IL)

Set during World War II, this opera explores the lives of two women: a Japanese American forced to leave her home, and a German Jewish immigrant preoccupied by those she left behind. In its Seattle Opera world premiere, it was called “a heart-wrenching opera… eloquent and moving” by The Seattle Times. Join us for the Lyric premiere of a contemporary American chamber opera. Performances at 7pm on Friday, March 15 and Sunday, March 17. For more information, click here.


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.