U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (July 7th, 2016)

Asian American Politicians Discuss U.S.-Japan Relations with USJC Corporate Partners

Congressman Takano (center) with representatives of USJC Corporate Partners

On June 22, USJC welcomed about 30 representatives of Corporate Partners for a lunch discussion with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA-41). The talk, titled “Asian Americans in U.S. Politics,” provided an opportunity to hear Senator Hirono and Congressman Takano talk about their experience in Congress, as well as U.S.-Japan relations and other issues of national interest.

Senator Hirono, a Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, is the first—and currently only—Asian American woman in the Senate. She encouraged more Asian American and Pacific Islanders to become politically active and run for office. Being engaged in politics can also start with registering to vote, which is crucial for the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, she said. Senator Hirono also touched upon the importance of encouraging underrepresented groups to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and discussed her work as Co-Chair of the newly formed Innovation Caucus.

Senator Hirono (center) with guests

Congressman Takano, who entered politics after two decades in teaching, emphasized the importance of foreign exchange programs. He discussed how some students from his district in California recently went to Japan, and how they—especially the lower-income students—benefited enormously from the visit. He explained that these experiences could lead to strong and unique bonds later on, like Congressman Joaquin Castro’s leadership as Co-Chair of the U.S.-Japan Caucus, or Senator Daniel Inouye’s support for Israel.

Congressman Takano shares his experience in teaching and politics

Representative Kriselda Valderrama, Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, also addressed the audience briefly. She is one of a handful of Asians, and the only Filipino, in the Maryland state government. As a participant of the 2015 Asian American Leadership Delegation Program, she visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year along with five other state legislators. She said that the highlight of the trip was learning about the Japanese government’s efforts to promote women in the business community.

Representative Valderrama addressing the audience

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye then gave a brief overview of upcoming USJC activities, including the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley and TOMODACHI programs, and concluded the luncheon. We thank all the speakers and guests of this event!

Click here to see more photos.

Recent Events

USJC Regional Chairs Discuss Ways to Strengthen Engagement

Last month, Regional Chairs, Vice Chairs and representatives gathered in Los Angeles with USJC leadership, including President Irene Hirano Inouye and Chairman of the Board Dennis Teranishi. These representatives of USJC’s 12 regions discussed future events, ways to strengthen outreach, and more.

The gathering kicked off on the evening of June 24 with a networking reception that welcomed 25 USJC members from Southern California.

USJC Associates and ELP alumni at the Southern California Reception: (L-R) Winston Taira, Craig Ishii, Tim Higashide

On June 25, regional representatives discussed how they can further the mission of USJC. Participants included Texas Chair Donna Cole; Midwest Chair Marion Friebus-Flaman; Mountain Region Vice Chair Tim Higashide; Japan Chair Russell Kawahara; New England representative Lianna Kushi; Southern California Vice Chair Ron Ohata; Northern California Chair Allen Okamoto; Southern California Chair Sandy Sakamoto; Pacific Northwest Chair Harold Taniguchi; Hawaii Chair Tyler Tokioka; Washington, DC Chair Mark Uyeda; Pacific Northwest Vice Chair Mari Watanabe; and New York & Vicinity Chair Sakura Yagi. Membership Committee Chair Dayne Kono and Dennis Teranishi also lent their support.

These representatives were introduced to guidelines on USJC programming, communications and donor/sponsor relations. Each participant also shared ideas and best practices to engage with their respective regions. Thank you to all who attended!

Regional representatives with USJC leadership

Click here to view more photos from the reception on June 24 and the meeting on June 25.


TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy Orientation Held in Tokyo

On June 26, the orientation for the TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy (TTA) was held in Tokyo, welcoming Council Leader Michael Bosack as the featured speaker.

Mr. Bosack shook the hands of each participant as he greeted them. He described U.S.-Japan relations as the “most important relationship in the world,” commenting on the importance of the role of Japanese students as liaisons between the United States and Japan. Comparing U.S.-Japan relations to personal relationships, Mr. Bosack discussed how essential it is for young people–as well as countries–to be there for one another in times of need. Countries and people “cannot achieve anything without help [from one another],” he said.

Mr. Bosack shaking the hand of a student

Mr. Bosack also touched upon the future of STEM. He encouraged the students to pursue their interests in STEM programs and careers, and emphasized the importance of creativity, understanding and companionship in the field. Many of the participants said that they are eager to broaden their knowledge and experience through this program, and communicate with others around the world

TTA is a one-week, cross-cultural STEM exchange and leadership program for high school students and teachers from Japan and the United States. This year’s program will be held in Tokyo in August, where program participants from both countries will work together to develop a disaster-resilient, smart community of the future.

2017 TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program Seeking Applicants

The TOMODACHI Initiative and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. are giving 15 Japanese high school students from Fukushima the chance to study abroad in Los Angeles. As part of this two-week exchange program, themed “Music as a Universal Language,” the students will participate in the iconic Rose Parade by playing music. For more information, please visit the TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program webpage or see this press release.


TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program 2016 – Three days until the deadline!

Are you a Japanese American young professional interested in U.S.-Japan relations? The TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program wants you!

USJC’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is now accepting applications. 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 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley in November for multi-day workshops and programming.

Learn more and apply today on the ELP webpage! The application deadline is Sunday, July 10.


2016 USJC Annual Conference


Monday, November 14, 2016 to Tuesday, November 15, 2016*(*There will also be TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders programming on Nov. 12 and USJC Members Day programming on Nov. 13)

Imagine. Innovate. Inspire. – The Silicon Valley Experience

Have you registered for USJC’s Seventh Annual Conference, to be held in Silicon Valley, California? Register now to get the best rate available!

Held in the center 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. It will highlight innovation and entrepreneurship, and inspire the next generation of leaders.

Featured keynote speakers this year include Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman & CEO of Hitachi, LTD., and Brad Smith, President & CLO of Microsoft Corporation.

If you have questions about the 2016 Annual Conference, please contact Shane Graves, Director of Program Development, at [email protected] or +1-202-223-6855.

To register, please visit the USJC Annual Conference webpage in either English or Japanese.

We look forward to seeing you in Silicon Valley in November!

Want to win FREE REGISTRATION for the Conference? Check out our ongoing Social Media Contest!

Staffing Update: Farewell from USJC Digital Communications Specialist Gabrielle Tremo

To all USJC members, supporters and friends:

Over the past year, I have worked on the Communications Team at the USJC Headquarters: updating the website, posting on social media, and helping to write the newsletter that you are reading right now. It has given me an intimate outlet to see and celebrate the work of this small but incredibly large organization. From all I have seen, I can truly say that USJC is one of the most enthusiastic and energetic organizations I will ever have the opportunity to work for, and it is that energy that I will miss most.

To our members, the backbone of our organization – I will miss re-tweeting smiling pictures of you all who, despite differences in location and schedule and generation, team up for projects and events.

To our friends and supporters, especially those who read this newsletter – I will miss telling you about all of the amazing things that our members, our staff, and our friends at the TOMODACHI Initiative are accomplishing on a daily basis. It is so much more than we could ever capture in a biweekly update.

While I may no longer come into the office every morning, I will never be able to truly leave the Council. I have become a thread in the tapestry that is USJC, a network of passionate people doing amazing things all over the world. I will continue to read the newsletter, and be astounded by what we do. I will continue to celebrate member accomplishments, the many and the often. I will continue to strive to be a leader, in my own way and spirit; and I thank USJC, from my heart, for instilling me with that eagerness.

Many thanks and best wishes,
— Gabrielle Tremo

Member News

Mark Yokoyama Becomes Alhambra City Manager

Council Leader Mark Yokoyama has become the new city manager of Alhambra, California. Mr. Yokoyama was formerly the Alhambra Chief of Police, a position he assumed in 2011. He participated in the 2016 Japanese American Leadership Delegation program. For more information, please see his bio on the City of Alhambra website or read this Rafu Shimpo article.

Upcoming Events

October 18: JWLI – Women Leading Social Changes in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)

When: October 18, 2016 at 9am – 6pm
Where: Tokyo American Club (Tokyo, Japan)

JWLI 2016 東京サミット

The Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) is celebrating its 10th anniversary by hosting a Tokyo Summit titled “Women Leading Social Changes in Japan.” JWLI is led by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish. Among the speakers at this summit are Irene Hirano Inouye and Council Leader Mari Kuraishi.

This summit will allow participants to:

  • Observe successful cases of social change in Japan achieved by women leaders
  • Learn from the U.S experience: “What is different from Japan? What is similar? What can be learned?”
  • Meet role models from Japan’s social sector leaders and social entrepreneurs
  • Explore obstacles for Japanese women leaders and how to overcome them

To learn more information, please visit the JWLI website or the summit’s website.



USJC seeks a candidate who can bring experience in digital communications, primarily with information technology, web design and social media, to our organization. We seek a candidate who will develop mid- to long-term strategies in communications and work closely with staff and board leadership in the implementation of communication strategies.

This position offers an opportunity to make an impact in a growing non-profit and an opportunity to network with prominent leaders at the forefront of U.S.-Japan relations. Fluency in English is required and Japanese language proficiency is desirable.

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


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.