U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (July 3rd, 2019)

Seventeenth Business Advisory Board Meeting Discusses Self-Driving Cars with Dr. James Kuffner

The 17th U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) Meeting was held at the Tokyo American Club on June 24, welcoming Dr. James Kuffner, CEO of Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), as the featured speaker.

USJC leaders and the speaker: (L-R) Scott Sato, Royanne Doi, Dr. James Kuffner, Masaaki Tanaka

The meeting opened with remarks from Member of the USJC Board of Directors, Scott Sato, and BAB Chairman Masaaki Tanaka, who is also Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors. Three BAB members then introduced themselves, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB membership. Mr. Jason Hyland, Representative Officer and President, MGM Resorts Japan LLC; Mr. Grant Tanabe, Partner, Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office; and Ms. Yasuko Yoshida, President, Shell Japan Ltd., discussed their careers and interests in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

Representative Director of the USJC Board of Directors Royanne Doi shared updates on upcoming USJC activities, including the 2019 USJC Annual Conference to be held in Los Angeles from November 4 to 5. She also welcomed three TOMODACHI participants and alumni in the audience, encouraging the BAB attendees to network with these next-generation leaders.

Dr. James Kuffner discussing the future of mobility

Dr. Kuffner then opened his keynote address by highlighting how modern human activity has been transformed by technology, especially with self-driving cars. As this industry expands, Toyota, too, is undergoing a revolution as it pivots to a “mobility company” developing driverless cars that will create a safer Japan as its population ages.

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) was founded in 2016 with the goal of improving the quality of human life using AI. Developing self-driving cars that can perceive their surroundings and predict what other drivers will do, TRI aims to provide mobility for all.

Dr. Kuffner then discussed the formation of TRI-AD in 2018 to help cross the “Valley of Death,” where many companies fail to get from prototype to a final product. TRI-AD works to combine Japanese craftsmanship with Silicon Valley innovation, and is striving to create an innovative work culture that encourages productivity and new ideas, and facilitates cultural integration between the U.S. and Japan.

Following his talk, audience members, including TOMODACHI alumni, were eager to ask questions. They asked about cybersecurity, ethics, promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry, and ways to educate a public that may be fearful of driverless cars. After his speech, Dr. Kuffner met with attendees and answered individual questions, as the guests enjoyed networking over food and drinks.

Council Leaders Grant Tanabe, Yuhka Mera, and Christopher Kodama discussing after the speech

Click here for more photos from the event.


Applications Open for the 2019 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program!

The U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Initiative are accepting applications for the 2019 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)!

ELP identifies, cultivates and empowers a new generation of Japanese American leaders. Emerging Leaders participate in leadership education, design and implement original USJC programming, and develop powerful, lifelong personal and professional friendships. This year’s participants will attend the 2019 Annual Conference in Los Angeles in November for multi-day workshops and programming.

Application deadline: Sunday, July 21, 2019, 11:59 pm PDT

Click here or on the image above to download and share this flier.

Click here to learn more about the program and apply today!

Reflection from Lindsey Sugino (ELP ’18)

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

Click here or on the image above to see Lindsey’s website, which talks about the global perspectives, meaningful connections and leadership development she gained through the ELP program.


Registration Open for the 2019 USJC Annual Conference!

U.S.-Japan Council 2019 Annual Conference
Bold Ideas, Bolder Leadership: The Next Stage of U.S.-Japan Relations
Loews Hollywood Hotel, Los Angeles, California
November 4-5, 2019

Registration is open for the 2019 USJC Annual Conference in Los Angeles! Held in Hollywood, the center of global entertainment, this conference will highlight diverse leadership styles that transform bold ideas into reality. We will also celebrate USJC’s 10th anniversary, and offer leadership training under USJC’s new Leadership Institute!

We also encourage you to enjoy the Japan Cuts Hollywood Film Festival, presented by the Japan America Society of Southern California from November 1 to 3, prior to the conference.

Don’t miss our lineup of unique speakers and timely topics! Early bird rates are available until July 31!

Speakers Include:

Kazuo Hirai

Director, Chairman,
Sony Corporation

John V. Roos

Geodesic Capital

Takeshi Uchiyamada

Chairman of the
Board of Directors,
Toyota Motor

Amy Webb

Founder & CEO,
Future Today

Taro Kono

Minister for
Foreign Affairs,
Government of

Early bird rates available until July 31!

Now Accepting Applications for the 2019 Asian American Leadership Delegation

USJC is pleased to announce the sixth year of the Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD), funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation!

The 2018 Delegates with U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty (center) in Tokyo

AALD provides the opportunity for a select group of Asian American elected state officials from across the U.S. to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, and nonprofit sectors. This signature program will consist of a one-week trip for a delegation of six state legislators plus two trip leaders to visit Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo to meet with Japanese leaders to exchange ideas as well as create networks that can mutually benefit each other in the short- to long-term. Sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council, in partnership with and funding by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the program provides business class airfare travel from the United States to Japan and back and hotel accommodations, meals, and ground transportation expenses within Japan. The AALD program is implemented with support from the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.

The U.S.-Japan Council will approve the final six Asian American leaders for the 2019 delegation. Selection for the 2019 delegation will give consideration to individuals who are serving as elected officials at the state level. In making the final recommendations for the delegation, criteria will also include regional representation, diversity of legislative committee assignments and professional backgrounds, and gender balance.

For more information about the program and to learn how to apply, please click here.

Member News

NobukoSaito Cleary Celebrates 150th Anniversary of First Japanese Immigrants

Many thanks to Council Leader NobukoSaito Cleary for providing this article!

I was honored to be a part of a sesquicentennial celebration in June that was a major example of strong U.S.-Japan relations. The American River Conservancy honored the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on U.S. soil.

On June 8, 1869, a group of Japanese colonists from Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan, arrived in Gold Hill, California to start a tea and silk farm. They were samurai, farmers, craftsmen and their families, including a 17-year-old girl named Okei Ito. They brought from home thousands of mulberry trees (used for the cultivation of silk worms), tea plant seeds, fruit tree saplings, paper and oil plants, rice, bamboo and other crops to establish the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony.

Unfortunately, the enterprise was short-lived, as there was a serious drought, and the water became contaminated with iron sulfate. The fate of only a few Wakamatsu colonists is currently known. Some may have returned to Japan and others have descendants here. Okei-san rests in peace today at Wakamatsu Farm, and is recognized as the first Japanese woman and immigrant buried on American soil.

It was my honor to serve as the Director of the Wakamatsu Japanese Committee, working on many activities and events held over the course of three days. I was grateful for the help of Japanese Government officials, including Consul General Tomochika Uyama. This celebration welcomed many dignitaries and guests from Japan, including the Honorable Matsudaira Chikamori, the 15th Aizu Matsudaira; Mr. Tokugawa Iehiro, the heir to the 19th Tokugawa Shogun Family; the Honorable Oguma Shinji, a member of the House of Representatives in Japan; and the Honorable Kevin Kiley, California State Assemblyman.

Nobuko Saito Cleary (right) at Wakamatsu Fest 150 with (from left) Mr. Tokugawa, Mr. Matsudaira, Ms. Lobach and Dr. Cleary

I appreciated the many Japanese Americans who participated or volunteered to make this ambitious project successful. Additionally, there were many supporters and sponsors, including the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, the Japan Society of Northern California, Hitachi and Dr. Gary Cleary.

We had a full program that included speeches and performances, a presentation of memorial plaques, as well as introductions of a few descendants. We printed the program so that the large contingent from Aizu would have a commemorative remembrance. Special services at the grave of Okei-san involved ministers from the Northern California Koyasan Temple, Daikokuji and the Sacramento Buddhist Church Hongwanji Betsuin.

Today, this significant site is a Registered Historic Landmark (#815) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was an exciting undertaking to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants who bravely traveled to a foreign country. Their actions left a legacy that was acknowledged by all in attendance, recognizing that this was a significant start to what we now celebrate as a successful relationship between the United States and Japan.

Upcoming Events

Corporate Boards in Need of Diverse Talents

When: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 6:30pm
Where: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

Do you want to become a corporate board member? Learn how your unique background, talent and experiences can be an asset to a company looking to increase its corporate value. This distinguished panel will share their personal journeys and discuss what skills and talents boards look for in prospective directors and how you can begin to refine and sharpen these attributes. This event is targeted for mid-career and senior level professionals.

Click here to learn more and here to register.

U.S.-Japan Council Emerging Leaders Program Day at Angel Stadium

When: Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 1:07pm
Where: Angel Stadium (Anaheim, CA)

Join the Emerging Leaders Program alumni as they host a special Japanese Heritage Day at Angel Stadium! They will be cheering on two-way Japanese Baseball star Shohei Ohtani as he takes on the Chicago White Sox. Each ticket guarantees a Shohei Ohtani bobblehead! Click here or on the image above to purchase tickets.


Accountant (Washington, DC)

The Accountant will have primary responsibility for day-to-day accounting functions and operational support for the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) in the United States and Japan. This position is in the Washington, DC office, and provides direct support to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in managing the financial operations for the WDC and Tokyo offices, as well as staff working in California and Hawaii. The Accountant will be responsible for all accounting functions including but not limited to accounts payable, accounts receivable, month-end closing, account analysis, donor financial reporting, and general bookkeeping activities.

Click here for more information about the position.

Public Relations Manager (Washington, DC)

We seek an experienced communications professional who is committed to furthering the mission of the organization through various communications platforms, including enhancing the visibility of the organization and its work through traditional and social media. The ideal candidate will have significant experience with public relations and social media, and will be dedicated to cultivating relationships with members of the media, Council members and partners, and other stakeholders. The candidate will serve as a key member of the team to implement the organization’s strategic communications plan.

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.

Intern (Tokyo, Japan)

The TOMODACHI Initiative is seeking qualified interns on a part-time or full-time basis. This internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations. Duties generally consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization and attendance at special events, student outreach and communication, writing and translation (as able). Duties may be tailored to the intern’s interests. Interns will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members.

Click here for more information about the position.

Program Manager for the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (Tokyo, Japan)

The Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) offers an executive leadership development program that transforms Japanese women into action-oriented leaders with the confidence to lead, skills and knowledge to manage, and plans to make social change in Japan. JWLI has been expanding–first with the Champion of Change Japan Award in 2017, and starting this June, with the JWLI Bootcamp. In order to continue to empower women in Japan, JWLI is seeking a Program Manager based in Tokyo, Japan.

Please click here to see the job description.