U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (May 23rd, 2019)

New England Region Celebrates Secretary Norman Mineta

Many thanks to New England Regional Chair Ginny Fordham for the photos!

Secretary Mineta (front row, center) with USJC members and supporters in New England, joined by USJC Executive Vice President & COO Laura Winthrop Abbot (back row, fourth from left)

The documentary celebrating the life and career of Secretary Norman Mineta, Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, just aired on PBS on May 20. Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story was created by Council Leaders Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi, and is now available online here.

Secretary Mineta with Representative Wong

Leading up to the PBS premiere, Secretary Mineta traveled with the filmmakers to several cities. During their stay in Boston, USJC members from across New England gathered for a reception on May 8 to welcome Secretary Mineta. Massachusetts State Representative Donald Wong, an alumnus of the 2014 Asian American Leadership Delegation Program, helped to host the reception at his renowned Kowloon Restaurant, which has been owned by his family since they founded it in 1950. Several other Asian American state officials attended the reception, and they presented Secretary Mineta with a proclamation from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The following day, Secretary Mineta spoke at an event at WGBH, the PBS station in Boston. During the sold-out WGBH event, the filmmakers and Secretary Mineta spoke on a panel moderated by USJC member and UMass Political Science Professor Paul Watanabe, raising the profile of the Japanese American experience, and telling the inspiring story of Secretary Mineta’s lifetime of service to the United States.

Assistant Secretary Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary for Business Development and International Trade of Massachusetts, presents Secretary Mineta the proclamation from the Governor of Massachusetts

Recent Events

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye Honored by the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth

On May 13, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was honored at the Annual Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner held by the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth (JASDFW). The Sun & Star Legacy Award honors an individual who has enhanced the U.S.-Japan relationship in the international arena. With over 500 Japanese and American executives, dignitaries, and political leaders in attendance representing the fast-growing Texas-Japan relationship, the dinner and award recognized Irene’s lifelong contributions to U.S.-Japan relations, especially through her leadership at the Japanese American National Museum and the U.S.-Japan Council.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye delivers her acceptance speech for the Sun & Star Legacy Award

short video showcased her life story and many contributions over the years. Irene then delivered an address, which focused on the importance of engaging the Japanese American community and others around critical historical and contemporary issues, strengthening people-to-people connections in the U.S.-Japan relationship, equipping the leaders of today and tomorrow to carry the relationship forward, and the significance of the Texas-Japan relationship for bilateral trade, investment, and cultural exchange. Irene joins the ranks of several other U.S.-Japan Council leaders who have received the award, including the late Senator Daniel Inouye, Ambassadors Tom Schieffer, Ichiro Fujisaki, Ryozo Kato, Tom Foley, and Walter Mondale, Secretary Norman Mineta, and George Takei.

Irene (center) with several distinguished hosts and guests, including (L-R) Paul Pass, JASDFW Executive Director; Stan Koyanagi, Member of the USJC Board of Directors (Japan) and Director and Corporate Senior Vice President, Responsible for Enterprise Risk Management & Global General Counsel, ORIX Corporation; Takami and Tetsuo Ogawa, Executive Vice President, Toyota Motor North America; 2019 Bridges-to-Friendship Award Recipient Keiko Suzuki of Dallas Kiyari Daiko; Jackson Chen, President of the Board of Directors; Toshiko and Hideto Nishitani, Chairman, President, and CEO, ORIX Corporation USA; Doug Parker, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors and Chairman and CEO, American Airlines; and Grant Ogata, JASDFW American First Vice President/President-Elect

USJC thanks the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth for the honor and the many sponsors and supporters of the evening, including the numerous USJC sponsors and members in attendance. More information about the award dinner can be found here.

Portland Members Welcome Consul General in Seattle

Many thanks to Portland Regional Chair & Council Leader Verne Naito for the following article and photos!

USJC members and supporters with Consuls General Yoichiro Yamada (fourth from left) and Takashi Teraoka (third from left)

In March, USJC members in the Portland Region hosted a cocktail reception to welcome the Consul General from Seattle to southwest Washington and introduce him to top executives from Japanese companies in the area. Six companies were represented, including SEH America, the largest Japanese company in the Pacific Northwest, and Kyocera’s largest operation outside of Japan. The top manager was accompanied by the ranking Japanese manager. Consul General Yamada came from Seattle and was accompanied by the consulate’s JET program advisor and their cultural affairs officer. Consul General Teraoka came from the Portland consular office.

Consul General Yamada gave a brief presentation on some of the current topics of interest to his office. The group gave the Consul General a warm welcome to the area. Southwest Washington, which includes Vancouver, is the third largest metro area in Washington State, and this was the first visit by a representative of the Seattle consulate in 7 years.

Council Leader Verne Naito addresses the audience

The group also received a brief presentation on USJC, its mission, and an overview of this year’s Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

Guests included former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard who was responsible for bringing many of the Japanese companies to southwest Washington; Bob Knight, president of Clark College, who has long standing ties to Japan; and state representative Monica Stonier, who is an alumna of the 2017 Asian American Delegation Program.

The event was the largest to date of Japanese expat leaders. It was the third such meeting that provides a platform for company leaders to engage with one another, establish a personal connection to their consulate, and learn about USJC.

Spring JWLI Concludes

Many thanks to JWLI for the following blurb! JWLI is supported by USJC.

The 2019 Spring Fellows of the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) completed their 4-week Boston training on Friday, May 10! JWLI was established by USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish in 2006 with the aim to advance women’s leadership in the Japanese social sector. After final presentations on their plans for social change, each Fellow received a graduation certificate from Ms. Fish. JWLI is a 2-year leadership program that empowers Japanese women to become leaders and to make positive social change and innovation in Japan. We would like to thank USJC for their continued support.

The Fellows will also report their findings on Monday, June 17 at Startup Hub Tokyo from 7:00 to 9:00pm. They will share what they learned in Boston and how they will carry out their action plans. Please click here for more information and to register.

(L-R) Kanako Sakimura (Fellow), Eriko Ito (Fellow), Yasu Yamakawa (Babson College), Atsuko Fish (Fish Family Foundation, USJC Board Member), Larry Fish (Fish Family Foundation), Yu Shinagawa (Fellow), Eri Maeda (Fellow), Kozue Sawame (Fish Family Foundation)


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2019 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD).

Reflection from Kyle Nakamoto (JALD ’19)

Leading the discussion with Keizai Doyukai on how to expand U.S.-Japan business opportunities

Leading the discussion with Keizai Doyukai on how to expand U.S.-Japan business opportunities

I am still overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the JALD program. I hope the connections with the other JALD delegates will last a lifetime; from the cabinet level meetings to karaoke with Diet members, it was an intense bonding experience. The warm messages from Princess Takamado and from Foreign Minister Kono made me believe that my family would be welcome in Japan. This experience had an amazing span across Japanese society and a surprising depth of discussion.

One of the goals of the Abe administration is “Society 5.0,” in which artificial intelligence (AI) plays a central role. The transformation of society by AI is also a constant motivation and concern in my life. However, in the variety of meetings we had, possibly due to the difference in language or the participants themselves, I did not sense any urgency in the discussion of AI transformation. This is also highlighted by my personal experience. Most of the people I hire are Chinese, Indian or Middle Eastern, and I have not seen any applications from a Japanese citizen for a data scientist position. I feel that the best way to repay the hospitality of MOFA and participate in U.S.-Japan relations is to engage Japanese institutions with the intent of training teams in AI.

Participating in local culture in Harajuku

This trip has deepened my connection to the Japanese American community and strengthened my desire to contribute to U.S.-Japan relations. Spurred by this desire, I have co-founded a social enterprise called Nichibei AI Services L3C with Saju Malayil and Dennis Sawyer. Our vision is to provide a channel for U.S. experts in AI to train and consult with regional Japanese universities and companies. We aim to ramp up deployment teams to transform traditional companies into companies that are competitive in the AI era. Led by Japanese Americans and a multi-cultural team, we seek to increase ties between Japan and America, as well as develop personal connections to our ancestral roots.

This trip seems to be an inflection point in my life, especially the personal connections that I have made. I believe that years from now I will be drinking shochu with my fellow delegates and Kaz Maniwa, laughing about this trip and reminiscing over the changes it made in our lives. This has highlighted our personal potential to improve U.S.-Japan relations. I hope to demonstrate this potential as part of my keynote speech at the 2019 Artificial Intelligence for Industry conference (AI4I).

Saying goodbye to Tokyo with fellow JALD members on the last day of the trip

Upcoming Events

Japanese Business in California: Their Contributions and Outlook

When: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 5:00pm
Where: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA)

For the last several decades, Japanese businesses have deeply rooted and grown their businesses in the United States, especially on the rich soil of Southern California. Now, they have become an indispensable part of the community as model corporate citizens, while contributing to the employment and exports from the state. As the leading business association in Japan, Keidanren will be presenting how strongly the economies of the United States and Japan are interconnected today and how Japanese businesses in California are consistently contributing to each local society and economy, by showcasing best practices by leading Japanese companies.

Click here for more information. Please RSVP with your name and organization by Friday, May 24 to [email protected]

Over 40 and Our “Midlife Renaissance” Masterpieces

When: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 6:00pm
Where: Toyota Research Institute (Silicon Valley, CA)

The U.S.-Japan Council is thrilled to host a panel addressing life and career after 40, which we are dubbing “O40.” Panelists will share their stories of tapping into new passions to propel exciting and new career transformations. Join us for an inspiring evening to celebrate the O40 community in Silicon Valley. Come and discover our uncharted territory together! Refreshments will be served.

Click here for more information and to register.

Kau Kau – A Food Fest Presented by the USJC U40


When: Friday, May 31, 2019 at 6:00pm
Where: SALT at Our Kaka’ako (Honolulu, HI)

No party in Hawaii is complete without amazing food! For one night only, USJC will bring together local chefs to showcase Hawaii’s distinct regional cuisine that celebrates diverse ethnic flavors with fresh local ingredients. Buy your tickets today and join us for this special event in the heart of vibrant Honolulu! “Kau Kau” is a Hawaiian pidgin phrase for “food” or “to eat” and is used among many different ethnicities in Hawaii. The word comes from the plantation-era when people from all over the world came to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields.

This event is open to the public. Visit this page to learn more and to register.



 Public Relations Manager (Washington, DC)

We seek an experienced communications professional who is committed to furthering the mission of the organization through various communications platforms, including enhancing the visibility of the organization and its work through traditional and social media. The ideal candidate will have significant experience with public relations and social media, and will be dedicated to cultivating relationships with members of the media, Council members and partners, and other stakeholders. The candidate will serve as a key member of the team to implement the organization’s strategic communications plan.

Click here for more information about the position.

Chief Operating Officer (Washington, DC)

The COO will work with the President, Executive Vice President, CFO and key executives of USJC to implement an operational strategy that strengthens the organization’s effectiveness and managerial controls across several functions. This includes Human Resources and Professional Development, IT and Digital Platforms, Administration, Financial Analysis, and the development and implementation of an Annual Operating Plan. The COO will ensure operational support of programmatic areas including regional networking; initiatives both in the U.S. and Japan; partnership development with government, business and non-government partners at the international, national and regional level; and in the expansion and development of an array of cross-cultural leadership development and educational programs between the U.S. and Japan.

Click here for more information about the position.

Regional Manager, Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

The Regional Manager, Southern California will support regional efforts in the areas of activities and events; outreach and engagement of local Council Leaders, sponsors, and supporters; membership cultivation; as well as cross-department work related to programs, communications and development. This position will focus on supporting the 10th Annual Conference, which will be held in Los Angeles in early November 2019. The broader goal of the position is to expand the organization’s external and internal connections and network in Southern California.

Click here for more information about the position.

TOMODACHI Alumni Coordinator (Tokyo, Japan)

The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) is looking for a qualified individual to support the TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program. The TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program serves to connect and empower the TOMODACHI Generation, individuals who have participated in TOMODACHI programs. We seek an individual who can assist the Alumni Manager and participate in various stages of engagement to support the next generation of leaders dedicated to the U.S.-Japan relationship. The individual hired for this position will need strong organizational and analytical skills and excellent attention to detail in order to integrate into our vibrant and passionate team.

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 of 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.

Intern (Tokyo, Japan)

The TOMODACHI Initiative is seeking qualified interns on a part-time or full-time basis. This internship program offers outstanding opportunities for college students, graduate students and graduates who are interested in U.S.-Japan relations. Duties generally consist of program and event coordination and support, website/social media support, organization and attendance at special events, student outreach and communication, writing and translation (as able). Duties may be tailored to the intern’s interests. Interns will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members.

Click here for more information about the position.