U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (May 12th, 2016)

Four Students Represent the United States at the Junior 7 Summit in Mie, Japan

Special thanks to USJC intern Taylor Gentry, who accompanied the delegates to Mie and wrote this article!

The delegates (front row, L-R) Daniel Tan (TX), Omar Saracevic (VA), Kaitlyn Nicholls (TN), and Akansha Ravishanker (CA) with Prime Minister Abe (center back). (Photo courtesy of the 2016 Junior Summit Secretariat)

From April 19 to 29, four high school students from different regions of the United States visited Japan. Akansha Ravishanker, Omara Saracevic, Daniel Tan and Kaitlyn Nicholl represented the United States at the Junior 7 Summit, an international gathering that mirrors the upcoming G7 summit in Japan’s Mie prefecture this month. They were chosen through a nationally competitive application process, and were selected from more than 550 students. They met each other for the first time at Denver International Airport, where USJC Council Leader Eric Hiraga gave the students a quick cultural presentation of Japan based on his recent Japanese American Leadership Delegation trip. Airport staff also hosted the students during their layover with lunch and an escort to their departure gate.

The delegates with Mr. Hiraga (second from left)

Upon arriving in Mie, the students worked with high school delegations from the other G7 countries, including Japan. They collaborated on a proposal paper that was later presented in person to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, the government of Mie, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In addition to learning about international cooperation and global issues facing G7 countries, the students enjoyed learning about Japanese culture, cuisine and local industries through daily excursions and sightseeing visits. A highlight of the trip was participating in the local Ishidori festival, which is said to be “the loudest festival in Japan.” Community members taught students how to hit drums and gongs. The students were then treated to a private tour of the Nabana no Sato garden, which featured topiaries trimmed into the shape of the flags of G7 countries.

The delegates enjoy the Ishidori Festival

The delegates also traveled to Tokyo, where they visited a local Super Global High School and planted a tree in commemoration of the summit. They were also hosted by students and their families for an overnight homestay.

“I was able to get closer to the Japanese culture [by doing the homestay] . . . I will continue to keep in touch with the family and my host brother to help expand their English language capabilities and continue this lifelong relationship that has been created as a result of this Summit,” said Omar Saracevic, the U.S. delegate from Virginia.

The summit concluded with an official visit to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, where the delegates shared their thoughts and proposals with Ambassador Kennedy. Delegates also had a chance to explore Tokyo and even took a trip to Tokyo Disneyland before departing Japan.

Click here to see more photos.

Recent Events

Daniel K. Inouye Distinguished Lecture Features Secretary Norman Mineta

On April 19, the second annual Daniel K. Inouye Distinguished Lecture was held at the Library of Congress. This lecture series is made possible through a donation from The Daniel K. Inouye Institute. Each year the lecture focuses on a theme that reflects Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s legacy of public service and civic engagement.

This year’s lecture featured former U.S. Secretary of Transportation (and Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors) Norman Y. Mineta, as well as former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson. With moderator Ann Compton, a former White House correspondent, they discussed how the United States balances national security with the protection of Americans’ civil liberties.

For more information about the lecture series, see this press release.

Japan-America Society of North Carolina, Headed by Council Leader Tracy Tsuetaki, Holds Annual Conference

Council Leader Tracy Tsuetaki speaks at the Conference

The newly formed Japan-America Society of North Carolina (JASNC) held its first annual Meeting in Raleigh on April 25. Council Leader Tracy Tsuetaki, who is the Founding Board Chairman of JASNC, said, “At a time when the economic relationship between Japan and North Carolina is strong and very beneficial to both parties, we want to build people-to-people ties . . . We are certain that we can deepen the relationship between North Carolina and Japan through the programs we will offer here.”

JASNC is the 37th member of the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS). NAJAS President Peter Kelley, who is a Friend of the Council, spoke at the Annual Conference, welcoming JASNC as the newest member.

Other speakers at the conference included Consul General of Japan in Atlanta Takashi Shinozuka; USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye; Atsushi Yamakoshi, Executive Director of the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) USA; and Toshiyuki Yokota, President, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) New York.

The Conference speakers

For more information about JASNC, please see its website.

New England Members and Supporters Gather for Lecture on Japanese Elections

Special thanks to Board Member Atsuko Toko Fish and the Fish Family Foundation for organizing this event, and to their intern Ms. Shoko Asei for writing the following article!

(L–R) Deva Hirsch, her husband Stuart Peskin, and Irene Hirano Inouye (All photos by Lia Camargo)

In the evening of April 27, USJC members in New England held an event called “Japan’s 2016 Elections.” The event attracted attendees from various community organizations, alumni of USJC and TOMODACHI programs, and scholars and students from academic institutions in the Greater Boston area. During the networking reception, the attendees were greeted by Irene Hirano Inouye, who flew in from DC to spend the evening with the Boston-based members, friends and supporters.

The event began with opening remarks by Atsuko Toko Fish, USJC Board Member and the USJC New England Regional Chair. She thanked everyone for joining and introduced the featured speaker, William W. Grimes, Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Well-versed in Japanese culture, language and political affairs, Professor Grimes shared his views and insights on Japan’s upcoming elections. He gave a captivating talk, presenting many charts to illustrate Japan’s current political system and governmental structure.

Professor Grimes

Following the presentation, Ms. Hirano Inouye expressed her gratitude to all who have been supportive and engaged with USJC in New England. She highlighted USJC’s recent activities, achievements, initiatives, and the upcoming Annual Conference in Silicon Valley. She also touched upon the missions and overarching goals shared among the members, as well as how to join USJC.

Ms. Hirano Inouye also congratulated the graduates of USJC’s leadership initiatives that are designed to support Japanese American leaders. Special recognitions were made to Lianna Kushi and Ginger Vaughn, alumni of TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program, and Eric Nakajima and Ken Oye, alumni of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation program.

The event came to a close as participants mingled over dessert, reconnecting with one another and meeting new people with similar interests in U.S.-Japan relations.

(L-R) Council Leader Naomi Moniz, Ms. Hirano Inouye, Ms. Fish, Ms. Vaughn and Ms. Kushi

Visit the event album to see more photos.

Capitol Hill Reception in Washington, DC

On May 3, USJC joined the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and other U.S.-Japan interest groups in co-hosting a reception at the U.S. Capitol. The reception welcomed ten Japanese Diet members who were visiting Washington, and brought together about 170 leading figures in U.S.-Japan relations, including many USJC members.

Hon. Keizo Takemi, Member, House of Councillors (left) speaks with Friend of the Council Peter Kelley (right) (Photo courtesy of JCIE)

For more information, see the summary by JCIE here. More photos are available on the JCIE Flickr.


TOMODACHI Recognized at Japan Day

Mr. Eriyoshi Konno, President of Japan Day Inc. (right) hands the award to Mr. Dale Prince (center) and Mr. Gary Moriwaki (left) (Photo by Mark Doyle)

On May 8, Japan Day in New York recognized three organizations, including the TOMODACHI Initiative, for their work during and after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. Japan Day thanked TOMODACHI, Japan Society and Hideki Matsui, for their support over the past five years and their continued dedication to the Tohoku region. This Japan Day celebrated its 10th Anniversary, and also supported current relief efforts in Kumamoto after severe earthquakes struck the region this past April.

Vice Chair of USJC Board of Directors Gary Moriwaki accepted the award on behalf of USJC, alongside Mr. Dale Prince from the U.S. Department of State (Director of the New York Foreign Press Center), who represented the U.S. Embassy in Japan. Mr. Moriwaki gave a short speech on TOMODACHI’s origins in supporting Tohoku’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as ongoing success in fostering the next generation of leaders in U.S.-Japan relations.

Many USJC Council Leaders attended the event to show their support, including Yuki Kaneshige, Sakura Yagi and Fred Katayama. Board Member Yosuke Honjo and his ITO EN team donated 30,500 bottles of tea, and Associate Kenshiro Uki and his Sun Noodle team served 1,300 bowls of ramen.

(L-R) Ms. Kaneshige, Ms. Yagi, Mr. Moriwaki, and Mr. Katayama all pose with the TOMODACHI award. (Photo courtesy of Fred Katayama)

On May 9, Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi graciously hosted a post-event reception at his residence. USJC New York Regional Chair Sakura Yagi and Vice-Chair Julie Azuma both attended the reception with Mr. Prince and his colleague from the U.S. Department of State.

USJC thanks Japan Day for this recognition, and congratulates Japan Society and Mr. Matsui!

BTG Alumna Represents Florida in Cherry Blossom Festival

Rachael Ann Soloway, alumna of the Building the TOMODACHI Generation Program, represented the State of Florida last month as The Florida Cherry Blossom Princess. Each year, as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, every U.S. State nominates a Cherry Blossom princess to represent them in the Japan-themed festival in Washington, DC.

This year, Ms. Soloway put together an event for all the Cherry Blossom Princesses to learn about the TOMODACHI Initiative. She raised funds from family, friends, colleagues and contacts to organize a lunch and asked Laura Winthrop Abbot, USJC Senior Vice President, to give remarks about TOMODACHI. Ms. Soloway said that after her experience in Japan, she wanted to encourage young leaders to cultivate further connections with the country, through TOMODACHI or other opportunities.

Rachael Ann Soloway (right) and Laura Winthrop Abbot (second from right) with the Cherry Blossom queen from Japan, along with her chaperone


2015 USJC Annual Report in Japanese

We are proud to announce that the 2015 USJC Annual Report is now available in Japanese! We once again thank Board Member Leona Hiraoka and her team at Integrated Media for the beautiful design.


Member News

USJC Members Featured in Exhibit Celebrating Fukuoka Roots


Several USJC members and supporters are featured in a current exhibit held at the Japan Overseas Migration Museum (JOMM) in Yokohama. This exhibit, which will be open until June 5, celebrates the successes of people around the world who have roots in Fukuoka. Featured leaders include USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Member of the Board of Councilors George Ariyoshi, Council Leader Fred Katayama, the late Senator Daniel Inouye and the late Paul Terasaki. According to the exhibit, Fukuoka is the prefecture with the fourth largest population of migrants.


For more information, please see the JOMM webpage here and the flier here (Japanese only).

Kenji Negi Honored as Asian Pacific American Youth Leader

Congratulations to USJC Associate Kenji Negi! The Illinois State Comptroller has recognized Mr. Negi as one of the Distinguished Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Youth Leaders for his personal and professional accomplishments. On Monday, May 9, a ceremony was held at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to honor Kenji and other youth leaders.

Bob Kumaki Invited to Japan to Support Outreach Efforts

In March 2016, Council Leader Bob Kumaki participated in the MOFA Domestic & Foreign Multilayer Network of Influential Figures. He was one of two Americans invited by the Government of Japan. The focus of the trip was to provide influential figures abroad with accurate information on Japan’s policies and values to expand the outreach of Japan’s policy advocacy, and work as a communications hub for exchanging ideas and disseminating accurate information to the world. Leaders Mr. Kumaki met with included Mr. Tomohiko Taniguchi, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet; Ms. Miki Ebara, Editor in Chief, NHK World; and Mr. Kenko Sone, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs.

Kathy Matsui featured in Japan Society Panel

Council Leader Kathy Matsui was part of a Japan Society event held in New York on May 10, titled “Womenomics-in-Action: Approaches by the Japanese, American & European Governments.” The panel studied how Japanese corporations will implement measures to increase the number of female managers, examined the American government’s efforts to promote women’s empowerment, and assessed whether Japan and the U.S. might adopt policies such as a quota system, which has met with success in Scandinavian countries.

For more information, please see the Japan Society website here.

Kaz Maniwa represents Japantown at Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards Ceremony

On May 2, USJC Senior Vice President and Council Leader Kaz Maniwa represented Japantown at the 2016 Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards Ceremony in San Francisco. The event celebrated the 110th anniversary of Japantown (the San Francisco one is the oldest in the country). Current Mayor Edwin Lee, Former Mayor Willie Brown and Consul General of Japan Jun Yamada attended, along with about 300 guests. Click here to see the video of Japantown’s history and Mr. Maniwa’s speech (the Japantown segment begins at about 48 minutes in).


Upcoming Events

May 16-21: 2016 Japan-Colorado Business Conference (Denver)

When: May 16-21, 2016
Where: The Curtis Denver (1405 Curtis St., Denver, CO, USA 80202)

This is a five-day business-to-business partnership program in Denver supported by USJC. It is organized by the World Trade Center Denver, Japan America Society of Colorado, Japanese Firms Association and Metro Denver area economic development organizations. Click here for more information, and click here to see the flier.

June 18 – 26: Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Presents: NO-NO BOY (WDC & NY)

Throughout the month of June, the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre is producing NO-NO BOYa play adapted from John Okada’s 1957 novel of the same name. Written by Ken Narasaki in 2010, the play explores the fate of Japanese and Japanese Americans during the post-Pearl Harbor internment. It gives special attention to the “No No Boys,” Japanese Americans who answered “no” to questions 27 and 28 on the Leave Clearance Application Form “loyalty questionnaire.”

The play will be performed in three locations:

– June 18 & 19 at The Burke Theatre in Washington, DC
– June 21 – 25 at Theatre Row’s Studio Theatre in New York, NY
– June 16 at Flushing Town Hall in Flushing, NY

For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the National Tour page.



Working under the direction of the Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), the TOMODACHI Women’s Leadership Program Coordinator oversees the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) in all aspects, from program development, to marketing, to implementation, and through reporting. This position also works with colleagues in the U.S.-Japan Council to ensure that this program is integrated into other women’s leadership activities managed by the Council. This Coordinator will work closely with the donor to understand and address expectations, manage implementing partners in Japan and the United States, and synchronize with teams from the U.S.-Japan Council in the United States and Japan, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in the implementation of this mission. This position is offered for a one-year contract, with an option for renewal each year.

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.


USJC is seeking a full-time Executive Director for the Council’s newest initiative, the Silicon Valley – Japan Platform (SVJP). The Executive Director position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC’s Silicon Valley Project, including: office management; executive and organizational support for the Executive Director, Chairman and Executive Committee, SVJP; and general administrative support duties. Travel, especially between Japan and Silicon Valley, is expected.

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