U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (June 21st, 2018)

Hawaii Celebrates 150 Years Since the Arrival of Japanese Immigrants with “Gannenmono” Event

Many thanks to Wendy Abe, USJC Director of External Relations and Council Leader based in Hawaii, for the following article.

On June 19, 1868, the first group of Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii. Their group consisted of about 150 people. Today, we refer to these immigrants as the Gannenmono, which means “the people of the founding/first year,” a reference to the fact that they had arrived during the first year of the new Meiji era in Japan. They had been recruited to work in the Kingdom of Hawaii from the Yokohama/Edo (now known as Tokyo) area, signing three-year contracts for a monthly wage of four dollars. Their story is an interesting and compelling one, full of surprises, hardships and joys, but above all, it illustrates their courage and determination, and inspires us even today.

Council Leader Carole Hayashino (standing center) with descendants of Hawaii’s Gannenmono

The Gannemono 150th Anniversary Commemoration and Symposium was held in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 7, 2018. Nearly 600 people from the United States and Japan gathered for the symposium. Co-Chaired by Christine Kubota (Council Leader), Sal Miwa and Tyler Tokioka (Council Leader), the event was highlighted by a rare visit from Prince Akishino, accompanied by Princess Kiko.

Prince Akishino delivered a message of goodwill and expressed his deep respect for continued efforts to strengthen the friendship between Japan and the United States. He reminded us all to never forget the tremendous contributions made by the Issei and the Nisei, who played a fundamental role in the development of Hawaii, while struggling to overcome many hardships. Prince Akishino extended his gratitude to the government of Hawaii and its citizens for generously integrating Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans, and for allowing them to be a vital part of society.

Immediate Past Chair of the USJC Board of Directors Dennis Teranishi speaks to Gannenmono descendants

The symposium included rich discussions from keynote speakers USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Member of the USJC Legacy Council Colbert Matsumoto. A panel discussion with Gannemono descendants was conducted by Council Leader Carole Hayashino, president of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Scholars and experts Dr. Dennis Ogawa (Council Leader), Dr. Michael Chun, Dr. Akemi Yano, Professor Masako Iino and Dr. Mark McNally presented unique views on the history of the Gannenmono and the legacies they left for the people of Hawaii.

Irene (second from left) and Mr. Matsumoto (center) with Mrs. Matsumoto (second from right) and friends

A collection of personal reflections from well-known Japanese Americans from Hawaii on the Gannenmono, co-authored by Dr. Dennis Ogawa and Dr. Christine Kitano (USJC Associate) and titled “Who You? Hawaii Issei,” was also shared with attendees.

Dennis Ogawa addressing the audience

It is fitting that the story of the Gannemono be remembered on the 150th anniversary of their arrival in Hawaii. In addition to the commemorative symposium, other organizations have planned various Gannenmono-themed events throughout 2018.

For Irene’s keynote speech, which addresses the need for further exchange between Japanese and Japanese American people; the changing diversity of the Japanese American population; and the importance of investing in the next generation of Japanese American leaders, click here.

To see more photos, please click here.

Recent Events

Fourteenth Business Advisory Board Welcomes Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae

(L-R) Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Paul Yonamine, Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Irene Hirano Inouye and Masaaki Tanaka

The fourteenth U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on June 11, welcoming Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, as a featured speaker.

The meeting opened with remarks from Masaaki Tanaka, BAB Chairman and Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, followed by self-introductions by three guests: Mr. Stan Crow, Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman Japan; Ms. Yuko Tashiro, CEO of Accordia Golf Co., Ltd.; and Mr. Hitoshi Ishikawa, Assistant to Group CEO, Industrial Finance, Logistics & Development at Mitsubishi Corporation.

Council Leader Hitoshi Ishikawa discusses his role in U.S.-Japan relations

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye welcomed those in attendance and provided updates on the Council’s activities, including the success of the recent Japan-Texas Economic Summit in Houston and the latest information on the upcoming 2018 USJC Annual Conference, to be held in Tokyo from November 8 to 9.

TOMODACHI alumni being introduced by Irene Hirano Inouye to BAB attendees

Ambassador Sasae, who recently joined the USJC Board of Councilors, gave a keynote speech titled “Japan-U.S. Alliance: Time for Challenge.” He reflected upon his experience serving as Japanese ambassador to the United States from November 2012 to March 2018, and addressed challenges facing U.S.-Japan relations. He spoke frankly about his alarm over growing anti-globalist sentiments in the United States; trends toward economic protectionism and potential trade wars; and Japan and the United States’ shared international security challenges, including North Korea.

Ambassador Sasae concluded his remarks with a Q&A session, and then joined BAB members and TOMODACHI alumni for food and drinks.

Ambassador Sasae answering questions from BAB attendees

Click here to see more photos from the 14th BAB event.

Northern California Members Welcome New Consul General

CG Uyama addressing the audience

On June 14, over 100 people attended a Northern California members event to welcome new Japanese Consul General Tomochika Uyama to the Bay Area.

The event was held at the historic Military Intelligence Service (MIS) building in Presidio, San Francisco. The building was formerly used by MIS volunteers to study Japanese during WWII, and has now been converted into a museum honoring the MIS. Guests toured the museum and saw the exhibit before the program started.

Dana Heatherton emcees the program

During the evening program, Consul General Uyama discussed his background and goals during his time in San Francisco, adding that “USJC is one of the most important organizations in this area and a leader in U.S.-Japan relations.”

Allen Okamoto smiles at the audience

Other speakers included Board Member Allen Okamoto, who talked about his perspective on USJC; Council Leader Sheri Bryant, who talked about her recent JALD experience; and Associate Dana Heatherton, who promoted the Annual Conference and also emceed the evening program. All speakers emphasized the importance of promoting people-to-people programs between the United States and Japan in the areas of business, government and nonprofits.

The event was a wonderful opportunity to see old friends, introduce USJC to possible new members and to update attendees about upcoming programs.

USJC organizers and attendees with CG Uyama

To see more photos (taken by Associate Rylan Sekiguchi), click here.


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

Reflection from Monica Okada Guzman (JALD ’18)

It has been just over three months since I participated in the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation trip to Japan, and I am still overwhelmed. My sincere appreciation goes out to the U.S.-Japan Council and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for allowing me this incredible experience.

The delegates with members of the Keizai Doyukai

Unlike previous trips to Japan, this visit ignited personal pride in my Japanese ancestry and mixed heritage. We have records of more than 50 Issei who made Guam their home during the early 1900s. Today, we as their descendants represent a wide cross-section of our island community. We have a thriving Japanese community and an active Nikkei Association now celebrating its five-year anniversary.

As the second JALD delegate from Guam, I find the goal of strengthening U.S.-Japan relations truly important. Guam is only a three-hour flight from Japan, and the strength of our tourism industry, our main economic engine, was built on Japanese visitors.

The author (right) with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

During the JALD sessions, we discussed significant topics, including relaxing Japanese immigration policy as a means to address the current labor shortage, and encouraging women back into the workforce. Whether it is the integration of different ethnicities into Japan, or acknowledging the contributions that women can make to a growing economy, it is important to continue the conversation between our countries to ensure collaboration and cooperation. Having first-hand discussions with government and private-sector individuals on these topics was enlightening and eye-opening.

Participating in JALD has given me the incentive and drive to further our ties with Japan. Along with Guam Nikkei Association (GNA) Chairman Frank Shimizu, I attended the 59th Convention of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad in Hawaii. This event commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Honolulu and featured a keynote speech by Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), titled “Human Networking After Japan’s Modernization and Migration.”

The delegates enjoying lunch in Yamaguchi

The first Japanese immigrants to Guam arrived on June 8, 1868, and we will have our own celebration of the 150th Anniversary. We will produce a series of short videos for an awareness campaign titled “Japan, Guam and Me” that will highlight Nikkei and their contributions to Guam. We are also planning an exhibition at the new Guam Museum to further celebrate the history of the Issei and their descendants, and their contributions to Guam’s economic, social and cultural growth.

The author (left) at a dinner hosted by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Friend of the Council Taro Kono

I feel that a whole new world has opened up to me, even though know it has always been a part of who I am as a Japanese Chamoru American. I want to thank Irene Hirano Inouye, President of USJC, and Consul Shigeru Kikuma for their support during the 2018 JALD. A special Si Yu’os Ma’åse to Guam Consul General Seki Izumi and Deputy Consul Osamu Ogata for their continued support of the Guam Nikkei Association.


2017 TOMODACHI Annual Report Available in Both Languages


The 2017 TOMODACHI Annual Report is now available in English and Japanese! We thank the USJC network for their strong support of the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click on the image above to read the English version.


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. Click here to learn more and to register.

Applications Open for the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program!

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 Tokyoin November for multi-day workshops and programming.

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

Upcoming Events

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


When: August 12, 2018 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! Each ticket guarantees a bobblehead of two-way Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani! After purchasing tickets, please see your confirmation email for information on how to pick up your bobblehead at the game. Click here or on the image above to purchase tickets.

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.