U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (May 11th, 2017)

USJC Washington, DC Region Holds Spring Cocktail Party

On April 27, USJC members in the Washington, DC region gathered for a Spring Cocktail Party to welcome the new Washington, DC Regional Chair Edson Mori. Edson previously served as the Washington, DC Regional Vice Chair. USJC’s former Washington, DC Regional Chair, Mark Uyeda, is now the Co-Chair of the 2017 USJC Annual Conference Host Committee along with Council Leader Bruce Hollywood.

Laura addresses the crowd

The reception also provided an opportunity for our many members and supporters in the Washington, DC region to welcome Laura Winthrop Abbot, USJC’s Executive Vice President and COO. Both Edson and Laura joined USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye in kicking off the reception with a toast to the Council’s continued work in cultivating people-to-people relationships.

(L-R) Kim Hirose, USJC Associates Georgette Furukawa-Martinez, Rei Tsuchiya and Dawn Yamane Hewett

Guests included local USJC members, Corporate Members, USJC staff, Board members of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC and senior officials from the Embassy of Japan. It was a great event that brought together people from numerous sectors who are interested in broadening their networks and strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship. This was USJC’s first event at the Bank of America Building, a historic building with a beautiful view of the Washington Monument. We look forward to more events in Washington, DC, including the 2017 USJC Annual Conference!

Please click here for additional photos from the event.

Recent Events

The Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit Comes to a Close

The first ever Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit successfully came to a close today. Co-hosted by USJC and the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, this three day summit was held to foster tangible near and long term economic opportunities among Japanese prefectures, the State of Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.

(L-R) USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye; First Lady of Hawaii Dawn Amano Ige; Superintendent of the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education Kuniaki Shimozaki; Co-Founder of Kizuna Across Cultures Shanti Shoji; and President of the University of Hawaii David Lassner

Please stay tuned for more information about the summit!

Japanese American National Museum Holds Gala Dinner and Silent Auction

On May 6, the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) held its 2017 Gala Dinner and Silent Auction at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The evening’s theme was “Reconnecting with the Past, Forging our Future,” as the gala celebrated 25 years since the museum opened at the site of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo. Attendees consisted of a sell-out crowd of approximately 1,200 supporters, including several Council Leaders who participated in the evening’s program. The event looked back at the early days of JANM, and emphasized its sustained role in preserving the Japanese American legacy and the need to continue standing for civil rights and social justice in today’s society.

(L-R) USJC Associate Jaime Sugino; USJC Program Manager Allison Murata; Chairman of the Board of Directors Dennis Teranishi; Member of the Board of Directors Susan Morita; Hidemi Watanabe; Irene; Member of the Board of Councilors Tom Watanabe; Council Leader Janet Nuzum; and USJC Associate Evelyn Tokuyama

During the evening, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She was recognized for leading the museum for over 20 years as the founding Executive Director and President and CEO, as well as her tireless efforts on behalf of the Japanese American community. Following a video tribute, a number of Irene’s friends and community leaders took to the stage to share their congratulations. Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Norman Mineta and JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs presented her with the award.

Friends, including those who contributed to the video tribute, gather on stage to congratulate Irene

Additionally, Council Leader Tom Ikeda received the JANM Founders’ Award, which was established to recognize an individual or organization that advances the mission and vision of the museum’s founders in a meaningful way. Tom is the founding Executive Director of the Seattle-based organization, Densho, which seeks to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II, explore principles of democracy, and promote equal justice for all. Bruce Kaji, founding President of JANM, received the Legacy Award for his efforts in founding the institution and his lasting contribution to the museum’s legacy.

Capitol Hill Reception in Washington, DC

On May 2, USJC joined the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and a coalition of other U.S.-Japan interest groups in hosting a reception on Capitol Hill. The reception welcomed 17 Japanese Diet members who were visiting Washington, DC during Japan’s Golden Week and brought together over 150 leading figures in U.S.-Japan relations. Guests included current and former Congressional members, business leaders, senior government officials, and many USJC members.

Senator Mazie Hirono, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, addresses guests

Click here for more photos from the event.

Bento Talks in the Midwest Region

On April 25, USJC members in Chicago organized their second Bento Talks, this time focusing on Japanese design and craftsmanship in various industries, including chocolates, luxury goods, architecture, and high tech toilets. Over 100 people attended this event which featured President of TOTO USA Toru Yamamura; Senior Regional Sales Manager of the Central Region of TOTO USA Mike Harrigan; Owner of METIS Design Anna Ninoyu; Owner of Chocolatines Rieko Wada; and Director of Image, Style & Design Studio and Faculty at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Steven Fischer. Council Leader Bob Kumaki served as the moderator of this panel.

USJC members and friends pose with panelists

Japan Festival Takes Place in Houston

Over the weekend of May 6, the Japan Festival of Houston, Inc. held its annual festival highlighting Japan’s rich cultural heritage. Member of the USJC Board of Directors Donna Cole worked with local USJC members and supporters to host a USJC booth where festivalgoers had the opportunity to make samurai style hats and learn about the mission and work of the Council.

(L-R) Saki Indakwa, Council Leader Glen Gondo, USJC Associate Kuriko Hasegawa Wong and Ms. Cole


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2016 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program.

Reflection from Yuri Hongo (ELP ’16)

The TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) has been an invaluable experience for both my personal and professional growth, and one that I will cherish with the greatest appreciation. I am deeply honored to have been a part of this program and my gratitude extends to USJC and its supporters, especially to USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC Senior Vice President Kaz Maniwa, and USJC Program Manager Allison Murata. The dedication, trust, and compassion that USJC demonstrates towards ELP participants is the reason my fellow ELP alumni and I are empowered to invest in the future generation of Japanese Americans and committed to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

The author (front row, second from left) with the 2016 ELP class and Ms. Murata (front row, far left), Mr. Maniwa (front row, third from left) and Council Leader Britt Yamamoto (center)

Over the course of four days during the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley, I built lifelong friendships with ELP participants and other USJC members, met a diverse group of renowned leaders, and reflected on ways to contribute to society as a Japanese American leader. What makes USJC unique is not only its strong network, but also the undeniable synergy between generations of leaders and the representation of geographic and professional diversity within the public and private sectors. Each of the unique perspectives that Japanese American leaders contribute are naturally interwoven, making a musubi (knot) and creating a vibrant community that is greater than the sum of its parts. This USJC musubi, made up of closely-knit, beautiful, intellectual strands, is one that is lasting, united and strengthened by one another.

(L-R) Mr. Maniwa, the author, Ashley Nagaoka (ELP ’16) and Aimee Eng (ELP ’10) in Silicon Valley

The magnitude of inspiration I took away from ELP and the 2016 Annual Conference has truly provided me with the motivation to keep creating and deepening more musubis between the United States and Japan. The U40 (under 40) USJC Japan Region recently held its first ever event in Tokyo, where USJC Associates, Board members, ELP alumni and potential members all gathered for drinks and dinner on a beautiful spring day. The event was a great success, thanks to Russell K. Kawahara, Member of the USJC(J) Board of Directors and Chair of the USJC Japan Region. The U40 Japan Region plans to host seasonal events in the years to come, with the hopes of strengthening and growing the USJC network.

The author (second from left) and Mr. Kawahara (fourth from left) with ELP alumni and friends

Thank you so much to everyone who made this opportunity possible. I am committed to giving back to USJC and the Japanese American community, and hope to empower the next generation as they unleash their potential and become their own version of emerging leaders of the United States and Japan.


2017 Annual Conference: Early Bird Rates Expiring Soon!


U.S.-Japan Council 2017 Annual Conference
Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together
JW Marriott Washington, DC
November 11-14 (See below for schedule)

Have you registered for the 2017 USJC Annual Conference in Washington, DC? Early Bird rates will expire after May 31. Register now to get the best rate available by visiting the USJC Annual Conference registration site in English or Japanese.

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’s conference will focus on developments under the new U.S. presidential administration and on Capitol Hill, and attendees will exchange views on how to get work done to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship. We expect the conference to draw over 700 leaders from throughout the United States and Japan.


This year’s speakers include:

Wes Bush

Chairman, CEO and President,
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Nobuchika Mori

Japanese Financial Services Agency

Keiko Orrall

State Representative,
Massachusetts State Legislature

J. Thomas Schieffer

President and CEO,
Envoy International;
Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Other speakers include:

  • Phyllis Campbell, Chairman, Pacific Northwest Region, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Margot Carrington, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
  • Todd Guild, Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
  • Irene Kawanabe, Director, National Conference on State Legislatures
  • Aruna Miller, Member, Maryland House of Delegates
  • Raj Mukherji, Member, New Jersey General Assembly
  • Gill Pratt, CEO, Toyota Research Institute
  • Tim Rowe, Founder & CEO, Cambridge Innovation Center
  • Sharon Tomiko Santos, Member, Washington House of Representatives
  • Kris Valderrama, Member, Maryland House of Delegates
  • Gene Wu, Member, Texas House of Representatives
  • Jan Yanehiro, President, Jan Yanehiro, Inc.

Topics will include:

  • Policy Experts Forum on U.S.-Japan Current Affairs
  • Regional Relations Beyond Washington and Tokyo
  • International Business Integration and Growth Industries
  • Developing the Workforce of the Future
  • Women’s Leadership and Success on Corporate Boards

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please click here for more information on sponsorship benefits.

Conference Schedule

Saturday, November 11, 2017

  • 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders & Alumni Programming
  • Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) Alumni Reunion

Sunday, November 12, 2017

  • Members Day
  • Networking Dinners

Monday, November 13, 2017

  • Full-Day Public Symposium & Reception
  • Sponsors Dinner

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

  • Half-Day Public Symposium & Offsite Visits
    Offsite visits scheduled throughout the day

Venue: JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Attire: Business

We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC in November!

Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 Asian American Leadership Delegation

Applications are still open for the 2017 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD)!

The 2016 AALD delegation in Tokyo with Member of the USJC (J) Board of Councilors Bill Ireton and Executive Director of SPF Junko Chano (center)

The AALD program provides the opportunity for a select group of Asian American elected state officials from across the United States 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.

Funded 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.

Applications will remain open until May 26. For more information about the program and to learn how to apply, please click here.

Upcoming Events

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


When: Ongoing through February 19, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History

In February, the National Museum of American History opened a year-long 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.

Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered


When: Ongoing until July 9, 2017
Where: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

For the first time in nearly 140 years, three large-scale works by the legendary Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro are reunited at the Freer|Sackler. The exhibition showcases Moon at Shinagawa from the Freer|Sackler along with Snow at Fukagawa from the Okada Museum of Art and Cherry Blossoms at Yoshiwara from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Depicting the themes of snow, moon, and flowers, the triptych was last shown in Japan in 1879. The Freer|Sackler is the only location at which all three original pieces are on view.

For more information, please visit the Freer|Sackler website here.

Meet and Mingle with Boston USJC Members

When: May 22, 2017 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Where: Haru Sushi in Boston, MA


USJC members in the Boston region are holding their first member-organized social event.

The evening will include dinner and a chance to meet USJC members and friends in the Boston area, and learn more about the Council’s programs and upcoming activities.

For additional information and to RSVP, please email [email protected] by Monday, May 15 at 6:00PM.


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.