U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (January 8th, 2015)

Chairman’s Message

The following is a message from Mr. Dennis Teranishi, who became USJC’s new Chairman of the Board of Directors on January 1, 2015.


I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that your year is off to a great start.

I am honored to start 2015 as your new Board Chair. I have big shoes to fill as I succeed Founding Chairman Tom Iino who has led us so well for the last six years. Under his leadership USJC has rapidly expanded into an organization with over 400 members, co-developed and managed the TOMODACHI Initiative, and started the Governors’ Circle.

I look forward to working with the Board and our members, and Irene and her team to further expand and strengthen the USJC in the following areas:

  • A. Expand the TOMODACHI Initiative to engage greater numbers of young people throughout the US and Japan and to secure more funding.
  • B. Serve as a catalyst for new collaborations with businesses, government, and other partners through such programs as the prefectural Governors’ Circle led by Dan Okimoto, and the new Business Advisory Board in Japan organized by Masa Tanaka and Paul Yonamine.
  • C. Develop an even stronger financial organization over the next few years with the creation of an endowment fund.

We are already preparing for the 2015 Annual Conference in Tokyo on November 9 and 10, under the capable leadership of Royanne Doi. We encourage all of you to attend, since a strong participation from our members demonstrates our commitment to U.S.–Japan relations.

Thank you for all of the support you have provided to USJC over the years. With your continued engagement, I am confident that we will have an amazing 2015.

Dennis is Chairman & CEO of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research. Click here to read his profile. Dennis previously served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, and USJC welcomes his leadership and commitment as Chairman.

USJC also expresses its sincere appreciation to retiring Chairman of the Board Tom Iino, who was bestowed the title Founding Chairman by the Board of Directors, and will continue to serve on the Board. Tom served as Chairman from USJC’s inception in late 2008 until December 31, 2014 (click here for his parting message in our Dec. 11, 2014 issue).

Announcing New Board Officers and Board Members

Effective January 1, 2015, the new Board Officers of the USJC Board of Directors are:

  • Dennis Teranishi, Chairman
  • Irene Hirano Inouye, President
  • Royanne K. Doi, Vice Chair
  • Michael K. Hirai, CFA, Vice Chair
  • Gary S. Moriwaki, Vice Chair
  • Susan Morita, Secretary
  • Wallace K. Tsuha, Treasurer

USJC welcomes the new board officers, and thanks the continuing and former board officers for their leadership. Royanne and Wally have newly become board officers as Vice Chair and Treasurer, respectively. Dennis, formerly Vice Chair, is Chairman, and Mike, formerly Treasurer, is now Vice Chair. Irene, Gary and Susan have retained their roles. USJC extends special appreciation to the guidance and support of Founding Chairman Tom Iino and former Vice Chair Henry Y. Ota, who will continue to serve on the board as Board Members.

The Board of Directors also welcomed two new members this year: Donna Cole and James Higa. The photos and biographies of all members of the Board of Directors are available on our website.

Judge Patrick Oishi Participates in Judicial Exchange

(L to R) Judge Ichiko Suzuki, Judge Takehiro Yasunaga, Judge Patrick Oishi, Judge Kunitaka Iwasaki and Masahiro Hosono in Judge Oishi’s courtroom

During December 2014, U.S.-Japan Council Member Judge Patrick Oishi of Seattle had the pleasure and distinction of meeting with judges and a public prosecutor from Japan, who were doing research and study of criminal law and jury trials in the United States. Earlier in 2014, Judge Oishi met with a different group of judges from Japan, who were also studying criminal law issues.

Judge Oishi, who currently serves as the Assistant Chief Criminal Judge of King County Superior Court, held two meetings with Kunitaka Iwasaki, Judge of Osaka District Court, Takehiro Yasunaga, Judge of Kagoshima District Court, Ichiko Suzuki, Judge of Sendai District Court, and Masahiro Hosono, Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office. The meetings focused on a comparison of the U.S. jury trial system and the Saiban-in (Lay Judges) system in Japan, as well as criminal procedure and evidence issues in the two countries. Judge Oishi and his colleagues from Japan engaged in a very educational and enlightening discussion and comparison of the two criminal justice systems.

After the final meeting, Judge Oishi hosted the Japanese Judges and public prosecutor to a dinner on the Seattle waterfront. Fellow U.S.-Japan Council Member and attorney Lynn Hashimoto joined the group for dinner. Everyone enjoyed a very nice evening of delicious food, good conversation and camaraderie.

(L to R) Judge Ichiko Suzuki, Lynn Hashimoto, Masahiro Hosono, Judge Patrick Oishi, Judge Kunitaka Iwasaki and Judge Takehiro Yasunaga on the Seattle waterfront.


TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholars visit New York and Washington, DC

(L to R) Stephen Stapczynski, SCOA; Jewelle Yamada, USJC member, SCOA; Kazunari Tanabe,Carnegie Mellon University; Kumaki Foster, Staff of Office of Representative Donna Edwards; Yukako Hirakawa, University of Wisconsin; Yumiko Miura, Sumitomo Tokyo (backrow), Ayaka Ogita, University of Hawaii.

Three Japanese college students currently studying in the United States for the 2014-15 academic year visited Washington, DC on January 6th and 7th as part of a week-long visit to New York City. The students are recipients of the TOMODACHI Sumitomo scholarship that supports an academic year of study at a U.S. university. This year’s participants are attending Carnegie Mellon University, University of Hawaii, Manoa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This winter break visit was organized by USJC member Jewelle Yamada of the Sumitomo Corporation of America’s (SCOA) New York office.

In New York, the students visited Sumitomo offices and did an overnight homestay with Sumitomo employees. While in DC, the students attended meetings at the Embassy of Japan, Sumitomo’s DC office and with staff of Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Students were hosted by DC area U.S.- Japan Council members Joan Ochi and Amy Yamashiro for a home hospitality dinner. They were treated to homemade foods and conversation with the host’s family and friends. On Thursday morning, the students gathered for a breakfast roundtable with local professionals that included member Mark Uyeda, for a discussion of various topics including careers and advice for making the most of their study abroad experience. The students will return to their schools this weekend, after visiting a Sumitomo subsidiary, seeing a Broadway show and attending a final dinner in New York.

TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program Visits Los Angeles

The Honda float in the Rose Parade

The day after Christmas, 20 high school students from Miyagi prefecture arrived in Los Angeles to participate in the TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program, sponsored by Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

A highlight of the many cultural programs was their musical performance, beautifully produced by Daniel Ho, a six-time Grammy Award Winner, for the Honda Float at the 126th Rose Parade. The theme of the float was “Building Dreams of Friendship,” and they shared the float with a few officers of the United States Operation Tomodachi, who were sent to Japan for rescue and humanitarian assistance immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The float was designed with the students’ input, with a bridge of LCD screens showing the videos of Operation Tomodachi and messages from the TOMODACHI Initiative (see a video of the float here, starting at 00:09:46).

Participants of the TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program with U.S. military officers

The 12-day program consisted of many components, from serving meals to over 1,000 local homeless individuals, senior citizens and disadvantaged residents, assembling disaster relief kits for the Red Cross, a visit to Japanese American National Museum (JANM), a new year performance at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, a visit to the UCLA campus and networking with UCLA students, as well as touring Disneyland, watching the musical Wicked and attending an Anaheim Ducks’ game.

Helping prepare the Honda float

This program was supported by many members of USJC, including Steve Morikawa of American Honda Motor Company, Inc. The execution of the program was flawless, thanks to Steve’s leadership and his team’s dedication. Dr. Susumu Ito, new USJC member in Boston and a member of the 442nd Regiment during World War II, shared his stories with the students when they visited JANM, and presented his book to each student. USJC member Patricia Kinaga and her husband Peter Wong were gracious hosts to two students. Curtiss Takada Rooks helped his former TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars to engage with the students at the closing reception. Paris Underwood and Michelle Tanaka, former participants of TOMODACHI MUFG Summer International Exchange Program who participated in 2014 Rose Parade were also there to share the evening with the students. Board of Directors Member Henry Y. Ota went above and beyond the call of duty and spent many days with the students, encouraging and inspiring them.

The students gave a music and dance performance at the farewell dinner (see the video here). The students and their host families bid farewell in tears. Honda’s slogan “The Power of Dreams” seemed to resonate profoundly, and the students seemed to be filled with a sense of pride.

The program participants with ASIMO, Honda’s humanoid robot

USJC would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and American Honda Motor Company, Inc. for this incredible opportunity. Our hats go off to Steve Morikawa, who spearheaded the American Honda team that includes Karin Baker, Erik Wedin and Alexandra Warnier, who gave the students a life-changing experience. We thank Mr. Mitsuya Kokaji and Ms. Yuko Yokota for their kind support and guidance to the students during the trip. The encouraging remarks and the presentation by Mr. Takuji Yamada, President of American Honda, were the perfect finale to the program. USJC also wishes good luck to the students in their future adventures, and asks that they stay in touch with TOMODACHI.


Jan. 22 – Innovation: Silicon Valley and Japan

The Japan Program at Shorenstein APARC, Stanford University is continuing the “New Channels” dialogue with support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation on January 22. This year’s theme is innovation and entrepreneurship, and the conference will feature many USJC members. Learn more about the event and RSVP by January 21 here.

Jan. 25 – Japanese New Year Celebration in Washington

The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC will be holding a Japanese New Year Celebration on Sunday, January 25. The festival will include traditional Japanese performances as well as a variety of family-friendly activities. For more information, see the event flyer here.

Member News

Paul Yonamine Named IBM Japan Chief

Great news to start a good year: USJC Board of Directors Member Paul Yonamine has been named President of IBM Japan (Read here)!

For a more detailed profile on Paul and his career so far, check out this Nikkei Shimbun article in Japanese.

Roy Amemiya Appointed Managing Director of Honolulu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has appointed Council Member Roy Amemiya to be Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu, effective January 1, 2015. Roy had previously served as CEO and President of ‘Olelo Community Television and led Honolulu’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services from 1997 to 2000.

Read more about the appointment in the release from Mayor Caldwell here.


Farewell from USJC Staff Member Tim White

Sadly, this is my final newsletter with the U.S.-Japan Council. I have worked at USJC since 2011 and have been honored to help with the Council’s Earthquake Relief Fund and the TOMODACHI Initiative, as well as the last four Annual Conferences and countless other programs. I have had the privilege of working with many of our members and supporters, and I appreciate the time you all have given to me. While I am moving on to pursue a Masters in Japanese Studies at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies here in Washington, DC, I look forward to staying involved in Council activities on both sides of the Pacific.

I leave this newsletter in the capable hands of our Communications Manager, Shiori Okazaki, and the rest of the wonderful staff at USJC. I wish all of you a happy 2015 and am excited to see how USJC grows in the years ahead!

Tim White, Media Specialist and Operational Support

U.S. and Japan in the News

  • DPJ leadership campaign begins, with three candidates running
    The Japan Times, Jan 7
  • The Changing Workplace / Firms use creativity to build up business
    The Japan News, Jan 7
  • Surprise sides: Tooth, plastic in McDonald’s meals in Japan
    The Washington Post, Jan 7
  • Son of Baseball Legend Yonamine Named IBM Japan Chief
    The Wall Street Journal, Jan 6
  • Asahi Shimbun to introduce public editor system in wake of misreporting
    Mainichi Shimbun, Jan 6
  • PM vows to spread fruits of Abenomics to regions
    The Japan News, Jan 6
  • Key Events to Watch in Japan 2015
    The Wall Street Journal, Jan 5
  • Abe to follow Murayama statement on historical recognition
    The Asahi Shimbun, Jan 5
  • Japan to keep pushing N. Korea to advance abduction issue
    Mainichi Shimbun, Jan 4
  • Experts urge Japan to play greater role in nuclear disarmament process
    The Japan Times, Jan 4
  • Support booming for venture companies
    The Japan News, Jan 4
  • Business heads bullish on economy / Leaders optimistic about 2015
    The Japan News, Jan 3
  • Abe plans U.S. visit, summit with Obama during Golden Week holidays
    The Asahi Shimbun, Jan 3
  • Gov’t to update estimates of different energy source costs
    Mainichi Shimbun, Jan 2
  • All eyes on Abe for war’s 70th anniversary
    The Japan Times, Jan 2
  • Price hikes to put pressure on purses
    The Japan News, Jan 1
  • To Rescue Economy, Japan Turns to Supermom
    The New York Times, Jan 1