U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (July 5th, 2018)

Hawaii Members Learn the Art of Bonsai

Many thanks to Associate (and Regional Vice Chair) Yoh Kawanami for the following article, and Associates Nicole Velasco and Lynn Miyahira for the photos!

Board Member Norman Nakasone and Council Leader (and Regional Chair) Ann Teranishi

On June 24, the Hawaii region held its first benkyokai (study group) studying the “art of bonsai.” This year, the Hawaii region decided to supplement its well-received networking events by branching out into some cultural, art and sport activities. We were fortunate that Hawaii-based Council Leader Gary Yamashiroya’s uncle is a bonsai master and was willing to facilitate our first benkyokai.

On an early Sunday morning, 20 USJC members and prospective members gathered to learn the history and art of bonsai. We learned that bonsai (“to cultivate with a pot”) most likely came to Hawaii with the Gannenmono (the first immigrants from Japan) 150 years ago. But most of the plants were abandoned or destroyed during World War II, as bonsai owners were fearful of being apprehended as pro-Japanese sympathizers. Post-war, bonsai hobbyists restarted the art of bonsai in Hawaii.

Board Member Susan Eichor and Council Leader Tyler Tokioka smile as they learn from bonsai experts

Bonsai master Roy Yamashiroya and many volunteers from the Hawaii Bonsai Association spent the morning with the USJC Hawaii regional ohana (“family”) and taught us everything from trimming and wiring to repotting the plants. After watching a demonstration from the masters, the participants got to work on their own plants, with the help of volunteers.

(L-R) Council Leader Gary Yamashiroya, Associate John Rankin, Rosie Chinen, Associate Nate Gyotoku

Hawaii’s first benkyokai was a success, and all the participants happily took home their own little bonsai plant that they worked on. We are grateful to our new friends at the Hawaii Bonsai Association, and will work hard to keep our bonsai plants alive (they chose a hearty variety for us newbies) as well as continue to support the art of bonsai.

(L-R) Nate Gyotoku, Susan Eichor, Nicole Velasco, Lynn Miyahira, Yoh Kawanami and Tyler Tokioka pose with their bonsai plants

Recent Events

Japan Region Holds Benkyokai Dinner with Michael H. Shikuma

Russell Kawahara (left) and Michael H. Shikuma

On June 21, a dozen USJC members and guests gathered for a USJC Japan Region benkyokai dinner, which featured Council Leader and tax attorney Michael H. Shikuma as the guest speaker.

Regional Chair (and USJC(Japan) Board Member) Russell Kawahara convened the event and provided a brief explanation of USJC signature programs, including the upcoming Annual Conference in Tokyo, before introducing the guest speaker. Mr. Shikuma led a discussion about estate planning for expatriates in Japan and Japanese people with overseas assets. Given the complexity of, and recent changes in, Japanese tax laws, attendees showered him with questions. The level of interest was so intense that the benkyokai was extended, and Mr. Shikuma graciously continued well beyond the originally scheduled time. Attendees uniformly expressed great appreciation for this very informative event and outstanding speaker.

USJC thanks Russell Kawahara and Council Leader Yuko Kawahara for organizing this event.

Front row (L-R): Yuko Kawahara, Annabelle Okada, Michael H. Shikuma, Russell Kawahara and David Nishida (Vice President of the Board of Directors of USJC (Japan)); second row (L-R): Philip Ryan, Noriko Kan, Mark Davidson, Ritsuko Nakata, Masayo Kuroda and Michael Kato

ELP News

The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Kyla Kitamura (ELP ’17)

When I applied for the Emerging Leaders Program just about a year ago, I had no idea that I was embarking on a life-changing journey. Through ELP, I have forged enduring friendships and found a new community of people who believe in the importance of U.S.-Japan relations as passionately – and as personally – as I do.

I am the Manager of Government Affairs for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) in Washington, DC, and U.S.-Japan trade relations are a central focus of my professional life. Our office works to educate stakeholders on Japanese-brand automakers’ contributions, both economic and social, to local communities throughout the United States. The more I learn, the more I am convinced that the people-to-people ties, cultivated over decades through business relationships and organizations like USJC, act as crucial bridges connecting our two nations.

At a community gathering with fellow ELP alumni in the DC area

Being a part of USJC as an ELP participant, an Associate, and now as a Regional Co-Vice Chair has given me valuable opportunities to broaden my engagement with others in the tight-knit U.S.-Japan community in DC, who also value international collaboration and partnership. Yet the most eye-opening aspect of my USJC journey has been intensely personal. For much of my adult life, I have felt as though I were between two identities – “Japanese” and “American” – without fully fitting within the boundaries of either label. Meeting other ELP participants, I began to understand what it is to be “Japanese American,” and for the first time, I felt completely at home. As individuals, we each have our own experiences and stories, but as Japanese Americans invested in the U.S.-Japan relationship, we are bound by something deeper. I am now learning to draw upon the multiple facets of my identity as a source of strength and pride in both my professional and private life.

I am truly grateful to our generous ELP sponsors for believing in us and providing this wonderful opportunity. I also thank Irene Hirano Inouye, Kaz Maniwa, Allison Murata and all of the USJC staff for their leadership and enthusiasm. I continue to be inspired and humbled by the accomplishments of my fellow ELP alumni and the USJC family as a whole. I look forward to contributing in my own way to this community that has already given me so much.

Applications Open for the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program!

New Year’s ELP get-together in Honolulu, Hawaii

The U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Initiative are accepting applications for the 2018 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 also attend the 2018 Annual Conference in Tokyo in November for multi-day workshops and programming.

Application deadline: Sunday, July 15, 2018, 11:59 PT


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

ELP Alumni to Host Japanese Heritage Day at Angel Stadium


ELP alumni are hosting a Japanese Heritage event with the Los Angeles Angels on August 12th, offering special Shohei Ohtani bobbleheads to those who buy tickets. These leaders aim to promote U.S.-Japan relations by celebrating the Japanese baseball star.

The Angels take on the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium that afternoon. The bobblehead, which is guaranteed to everyone who purchases tickets through the link below, has double figures of Ohtani pitching and hitting to reflect his skills as a two-way player.

“Japanese Heritage Day by the U.S.-Japan Council” is led by the efforts of Joshua Morey and a group of USJC members. Aside from being the President & CEO of The J. Morey Company, Inc., an insurance company that has a tradition of more than a century, Mr. Morey has long had a passion for baseball, and especially its “power…to bridge gaps between cultures,” he said. He is the co-founder of Far East Baseball, an organization that coordinates cultural exchange between Japanese and American collegiate baseball players. “Baseball has been pivotal in shaping who I am as a Japanese American and has allowed me to continue building bridges between the United States and Japan,” he said.

Mr. Morey is a 2016 ELP alumnus. In addition to promoting U.S.-Japan relations, Mr. Morey and fellow ELP alumni hope to raise awareness for Tohoku’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Part of the ticket sales will be given to a community organization from Ohtani’s home region in Iwate prefecture.

The TOMODACHI Initiative, which ELP is a part of, has supported a number of baseball-related programs over the years, including a baseball youth exchange between San Diego and Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, and reopening a baseball field in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, that was damaged by the earthquake.

Details of “Japanese Heritage Day by the U.S.-Japan Council”

WHEN: Sunday, August 12 at 1:07PM
WHERE: Angel Stadium (2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806)

TICKET DETAILS: Each ticket ($30) guarantees a Shohei Ohtani Bobblehead. After purchasing tickets, please see your confirmation email for information on how to pick up your bobblehead at the game. Tickets are available through Monday, July 30.


2017 USJC Annual Report Available in Japanese!


The 2017 USJC Annual Report is now available in Japanese! They will soon be mailed to Japan-based members and sponsors, and a digital version is also on our website here. We hope you will be proud of our collective accomplishments resulting in another successful year of impactful programs and events. This wonderful design was once again made possible through the support of Board Member Leona Hiraoka.

Register Now for the 2018 USJC Annual Conference in Tokyo!


U.S.-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference
Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
November 8-9

Registration is open for the U.S.-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference, to be held November 8-9!

Each year, USJC’s Annual Conference is attended by distinguished U.S. and Japanese leaders from all sectors, including business, government and civil society. This year, USJC returns to Tokyo to discuss how the United States and Japan can build a sustainable future together. The Conference will explore ways to collaborate towards mutual goals like supporting women leaders, and face common challenges like aging populations and security issues in Asia. We will also discuss regional ties among various cities in both countries, the impact the midterm elections will have in the United States, strengthening philanthropy in Japan, and ways Tokyo can leverage the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for future growth.

Join USJC & USJC (Japan) in Tokyo to discuss how to create lasting partnerships and benefit communities on both sides of the Pacific.

JWLI Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2018

The Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI), founded by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish and supported by USJC, is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 program!

JWLI is a two-year executive leadership program that empowers Japanese women to become leaders and make positive social change in Japan, with hands-on training in Boston.

The four weeks in Boston include participation in the Women’s Leadership Program, a five-day intensive entrepreneurial management program at Babson College, and visits to successful nonprofit organizations to learn their best practices on management and leadership. In Boston, participants also develop their vision of social change, shaping it into an Action Plan. Upon returning to Japan, each participant is paired with a mentor to implement the Action Plan.

Details of the Fall 2018 program are as follows:

【Program Dates】

October 9, 2018 – November 2, 2018 (tentative)

【Application Info】

Online applications will close at 9:00pm ET on July 15, 2018. Click here for the application form!

【Key Qualifications】

  • 5+ years work experience
  • Clear vision for social change in Japan
  • Strong leadership capabilities
  • Passionate, action-oriented mindset
  • Interest to learn about leadership and management from American nonprofit organizations and social communities

Upcoming Events

Wellness Workshoppe with Candice Kumai and Special Guest Mirai Nagasu


When: July 7, 2018 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Where: Citrus Studios at Bergamot Station (Santa Monica, CA)

The U.S.-Japan Council and Punahou Alumni of Southern California will host a Wellness Workshoppe with special guests Candice Kumai, internationally-renowned wellness writer, chef and content creator, and Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu. Enjoy bites from Ms. Kumai’s latest book Kintsugi Wellness, and an opportunity to get it signed by the author.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through December 8, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History (Washington, DC)

Last year, the National Museum of American History opened an exhibit to mark 75 years since Executive Order 9066 authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. On display are artifacts, photographs and stories collected from Japanese American families. There will also be public programming throughout the year related to this exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit the official website.


Director of Partnerships & Development (Washington, DC)

USJC’s DC office seeks a candidate who is committed to the goals of the organization and can bring experience in development and in building and maintaining effective partnerships with donors, sponsors and other stakeholders. The Director of Partnerships & Development would work closely with corporate and individual donors that have a vested interest in U.S.-Japan relations. We seek a candidate who will serve as a key member of the leadership team to develop mid- to long-term strategies in development and work closely with staff and board leadership in the implementation of development plans.

Click here for more information about the position.

Development Coordinator (Washington, DC)

The Development Coordinator position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC development activities. This position will provide direct support to the Director of Partnerships & Development and to the President. Administrative office support is also given as assigned. The Development Coordinator will interface with donors and related stakeholders.

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 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.

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.