U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (May 28th, 2015)

Irene Hirano Inouye Honored by Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University conferred an honorary doctorate degree to USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye on May 16. Our sincere thanks to Council Member Bill Tsutsui for making this possible, and for the following article!


On May 16, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. The honorary degree, the first ever given by the institution to an American of Asian descent, was formally conferred at SMU’s 100th May commencement, which featured former president George W. Bush as the graduation speaker.

Irene’s career was the subject of a symposium, “Celebrating the American Experience and U.S.-Japan Relations: Irene Hirano Inouye, Her Life, Works and Achievements,” organized on May 15 by SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in partnership with the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth. The speakers, who included Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, retired commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during Operation Tomodachi, praised Irene for her commitment to “strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship at the grassroots level” and build “strong people-to-people friendship” through the TOMODACHI Initiative. Irene spoke to the audience, which included members of the diplomatic corps, representatives from Toyota and other Japanese corporations in North Texas, and SMU students and faculty, about her personal experience as a Japanese American, the importance of a strong bilateral relationship with Japan, and the opportunities for economic and cultural connections with Japan in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex.

The speakers (L-R: Irene Hirano Inouye; Admiral Patrick M. Walsh; Anny Wong, Tower Center Research Fellow, SMU; and moderator Hiroki Takeuchi, Associate Professor & Director of Sun & Star Program on Japan East Asia, Tower Center, SMU) share a laugh (All photos courtesy of SMU)

An honorary doctorate is the highest recognition which a university can bestow and I am thrilled that I was able to initiate Irene’s nomination in 2014, during my final year as dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Congratulations Dr. Hirano Inouye!

Irene Hirano Inouye with other speakers of the symposium, leaders of SMU and the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth, Consul-General of Japan in Houston Nozomu Takaoka, and other leaders engaged in U.S.-Japan relations

Other Recent Events

JAA USJC Charity Golf Tournament – New York

USJC and the Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. were beneficiaries of a charity golf tournament held on May 19. Over 50 people attended the tournament held at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange, New Jersey, one of the premier golf clubs in the Northeast. Attendees enjoyed refreshing ITO EN beverages during the event, which raised funds and awareness for the two hosting organizations.

Other Recent Events

In attendance were USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Vice Chair of the Board Gary Moriwaki, Associate Member Adam Moriwaki, JAANY President and USJC Member Susan Onuma and Council Member Dr. Shunichi Homma. Baseball legend Bobby Valentine also attended and was the auctioneer for the live auction during the reception. Council Member Eiichi Kuwana won the auction prize: 100,000 miles courtesy of American Airlines, and a Tokyu Hotels full package that consists of a generous package from the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and stays at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel and the Capitol Hotel Tokyu (where the USJC Annual Conference will be held this November).

Many thanks to sponsors ITO EN North America, MUFG Union Bank, N.A., Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, Orient Corporation of America, Goldsmith Wealth Advisors and Henry Schein.

(L-R) Bobby Valentine, Eiichi Kuwana, Yohei Shigeno (Tokyu Hotels)

Click here to see more photos.


2014 TOMODACHI Annual Report now available!

We are proud to announce the 2014 TOMODACHI Annual Report, which is now available online here. We hope you will enjoy reading about TOMODACHI’s many accomplishments in the past year, which was made possible thanks to our Members, sponsors and supporters. (A Japanese version will follow soon.)

Upcoming TOMODACHI programs

The summer has officially begun, and there are a number of TOMODACHI programs that will be taking place between the United States and Japan. Please see the TOMODACHI website for additional information. Here a few highlights:

  • TOMODACHI Food Innovation for Regional Sustainability in Tohoku (FIRST) Program (June 6-24, Seattle): This program nurtures leadership and cross-cultural skills within the next generation of Japanese individuals who are committed to social innovation in the production, processing, distribution and/or consumption of food in Japan. iLEAP, led by Council Member Britt Yamamoto, implements this program.
  • TOMODACHI MUFG 2015 International Exchange Program (June 27 – July 12): American high school students in California will visit Japan on this two-week people-to-people exchange and cultural learning program. This successful program is in its fourth year.
  • TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program (Aug. 11-22, New York and Washington, DC): This program provides opportunities for Japanese nursing students. It supports the capacity-building of nurses in the Tohoku region through the field of disaster medicine.

Upcoming TOMODACHI events and opportunities

  • Presentations and exhibit by alumni of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange program (June 3, 6:00-8:00p.m. (Washinton, DC)): Five DC high school students will share their experiences and insights from this two-way cultural exchange with Japan, including stories from their visit to Tohoku. More information can be found here.
  • American Councils is currently seeking families in the Washington, DC area (with access to public transportation) to host Japanese high school students who will participate in the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program from July 31 to August 16. Please see the host family flier for more information and contact details.


New Staff in Tokyo and Washington, DC: TOMODACHI Executive Director and More

We are pleased to welcome Mr. Marc Lassman as the new Executive Director for the TOMODACHI Initiative. He will begin working in Tokyo on June 1. His bio is as follows:

Marc Lassman received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Colorado. He is a former JET program participant who lived and worked in Hokkaido for three years. He is also a licensed U.S. attorney. After approximately 8 years of U.S. domestic legal practice experience, Mr. Lassman received a LLM degree in International Law from the University of Nottingham, England, and embarked on a career in international development. He worked for more than 14 years internationally, primarily directing U.S. government-funded projects in numerous countries in the Balkans, former Soviet Union, and the Middle East. Following his time as a JET, Mr. Lassman kept strong contacts with Japan, visiting often. During one of these trips he met his wife. Mr. Lassman maintained strong relations with the Japanese community in the countries where he lived and worked, collaborating with the Japanese Embassy and helping to raise money for relief services following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Laura Winthrop Abbot, outgoing Executive Director of TOMODACHI (whose bio is here), is relocating to Washington, DC. She will begin working at the USJC headquarters as Senior Vice President on June 2.

Also starting at the DC headquarters in June is Ms. Gabrielle Tremo, the new Digital Communications Specialist. Ms. Tremo studied Japanese Language & Literature and Computer Science at Washington and Lee University, where she helped to run her university’s official social media accounts and worked as a computer hardware/software technician. At USJC, she will be enhancing the Council’s digital media presence and social media activities.

New Address for Tokyo Office

The U.S.-Japan Council, kindly housed in pro-bono office space by GE Japan Corporation for the past three years, has moved into new office space at the New Otani Garden Court, which is kindly provided pro-bono by Evolution Japan Co., Ltd. Please see the below updated address.

New Otani Garden Court 12F
4-1, Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, JAPAN 102-0094

The TOMODACHI Initiative will continue to retain an office at the U.S. Embassy for the public-private partnership (the address remains as follows: TOMODACHI Initiative, 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo JAPAN 107-8240).

2014 USJC Annual Report in Japanese

The 2014 USJC Annual Report is now available in Japanese! They will soon be mailed to Japan-based Members and sponsors, but in the meantime, a digital version is also on our website here. This is the first USJC Annual Report to be published in both English and Japanese. (The English version is available here.) We once again thank Council Member Leona Hiraoka for making this wonderful new design possible.

Upcoming Events

June 12 – Congressional Gold Medal Dinner (San Jose)

  • Date & Time: Friday, June 12, 2015; 6:00p.m Cocktail Reception, 7:00p.m. Dinner
  • Venue: The Fairmont (170 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113)

This dinner supports the Congressional Gold Medal Digital Exhibition, which will highlight the stories of World War II nisei soldiers at the Smithsonian Institution in 2016. The exhibition was inspired by the 2011 awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to three Japanese American units who fought in the war and will feature state-of-the-art digital displays.

The dinner will feature a keynote speech by Secretary Eric Shinseki (former U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs and 34th U.S. Army Chief of Staff) and a presentation on the exhibition planning with the Smithsonian. To purchase tickets to the dinner or to donate, please click here.



Reporting to the President, the Controller will be responsible for oversight of all finance, accounting and reporting activities for the U.S.-Japan Council (U.S.) and U.S.-Japan Council (Japan). The Controller will be involved in providing presentations to the Board of Directors Finance and Audit committee and will work closely with the senior leadership team and staff.

The Controller will lead all day-to-day finance operations and have functional responsibility over accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and grants administration. The Controller will ensure that the U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Initiative has the systems and procedures in place to support effective program implementation and ensure accurate audits. The Controller will work closely with program and development, not only to educate them regarding finance and accounting requirements but also to explore how the finance function can support program operations.

In addition, the Controller will work closely with the President and Executive Vice-President/Chief Operating Officer and senior Vice-Presidents, to enhance and integrate finance, HR, and IT functions.

A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website.

Marketing and Communications Manager/Specialist, TOMODACHI Initiative

Working under the direction of the Executive Director of the TOMODACHI Initiative in Japan, the Marketing & Communications Manager/Specialist (exact title to be confirmed based on experience of the candidate) plays a critical role in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic marketing strategy to build and develop the profile and brand of the TOMODACHI Initiative among a diverse audience, including senior corporate executives, government leaders, recipients of support, other donors and the press. The Marketing & Communications Manager/Specialist will work closely 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.

A listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website.