U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (November 19th, 2015)

2015 Annual Conference Shows Diversity of Leaders in U.S.-Japan Relations

On November 9 and 10, USJC hosted its sixth Annual Conference, themed “Beyond 2020 Vision: Going Global with the U.S.-Japan Partnership.” Approximately 850 American and Japanese leaders from all sectors convened in Tokyo, Japan to discuss the value of working across sectors and generations to envision, promote and develop a more vibrant and dynamic U.S.-Japan relationship. This was USJC’s first Annual Conference in Japan, and its biggest yet, with speakers bringing their expertise in business, government, civil society, art and more to discuss innovative ways the two nations can collaborate.

(L-R) Mr. Dennis Teranishi, Chairman of the Board, USJC; Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, President of USJC; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Mr. Ernest Higa, Chair of the USJC(J) Board of Directors

His Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, offered congratulatory remarks and said, “There can be no doubt that the establishment of our robust Japan-U.S. Alliance and its development to date owe much to the enormous contributions of many people in a variety of positions from both our countries, including everyone here today, as well as your work to promote mutual exchanges.” He was joined by five Keynote Speakers from the public and private sectors of both countries: Hon. Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Mr. Nobuyuki Hirano, President & Group CEO, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.; Ms. Sandra E. Peterson, Group Worldwide Chairman, Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Koji Murofushi, Sports Director, The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games; and Dr. Gill Pratt, Executive Technical Adviser, Toyota Motor Corporation and CEO, Toyota Research Institute, Inc. Each spoke about the future of U.S.-Japan collaboration leading up to and after 2020—a key year for Japan—including strengthening diplomacy, economic relations, medical innovation, partnerships in transportation and technology, youth exchange and more.

(L-R) Dr. Murofushi shares his vision for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Of particular importance to this Conference was the role of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. The plenary program titled “The Japanese American Experience: From Internment to Leadership, A Seventy-Year Journey” highlighted the contributions of Japanese Americans with a special address by Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, former Secretary of Transportation and Commerce—who was interned as a boy—followed by a panel discussion of entrepreneurs that included Hollywood actor Mr. Masi Oka. The Conference also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program, an annual program sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that brings select Japanese American leaders to Japan. “The Japanese American identity has expanded across generations, backgrounds and interests, which means we have even more ways to strengthen our bilateral relations,” said USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, who has been leading diverse JALD delegates to Japan since the beginning of the program.

(L-R) Ms. Jan Yanehiro, Member of the USJC Board of Directors; Secretary Mineta; Ms. Donna Cole, Member of the USJC Board of Directors; Mr. Ernest Higa; Mr. Oka

Also part of the Conference was a reception centered on the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership led by USJC and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that aims to foster the next generation of leaders in U.S.-Japan relations. “I am grateful to the many corporate and institutional partners who support the TOMODACHI initiative. Through innovative exchange programs, TOMODACHI is creating the leaders of tomorrow who will ensure the U.S.-Japan relationship remains strong,” said Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. (For more information, please see the press release, “TOMODACHI Initiative Announces New Partnerships, Strengthening the Investment in the Next Generation of Japanese and American Leaders.”)

(L-R) Mr. Takeru Saito and Mr. Shun Kumagai, TOMODACHI Suntory Scholars who performed at the reception

Other prominent individuals who spoke at the Conference included Ms. Kathy Matsui, Vice-Chair, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd.; Mr. Takeshi Niinami, President, CEO, and Representative Director, Suntory Holdings Limited; Amb. John V. Roos, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan; Mr. So Taguchi, Baseball Commentator; Mr. Futoshi Toba, Mayor of Rikuzentakata; Mr. Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President, CEO of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.; and four governors from both countries. Over 160 executives and representatives from Sponsor companies also enjoyed a vibrant networking lunch and a private Sponsors program, with keynote speeches by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, former Secretary Norman Mineta, and General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Hon. Kelly Welsh.

Panel discussions such as “Silicon Valley & Japan: Building a ‘Kakehashi’ Bridge” and “Next Steps for Women’s Leadership in Japan,” an offsite excursion program with Japanese entrepreneurs, and intimate dinners at local restaurants that celebrated the culinary diversity of Tokyo were among other highlights of the Conference. For a full schedule of the Conference, please see the Conference webpage.

A selection of Sushi from Nobu Restaurant, one of the “Tastes of Tokyo” venues

For more photos, please visit our 2015 Annual Conference Flickr Album.

For a more in-depth view of Conference activities, check our our Day I and Day II social media recaps.

For speaker bios, descriptions of programming and more, view the 2015 Annual Conference Program.

Recent Events

(L-R) Associate Member Dana Heatherton, Ms. Koike, Ms. Cole

Members in Houston welcome Hon. Yuriko Koike

Board Member Donna Cole met Hon. Yuriko Koike, Member of the House of Representatives in Japan, through USJC. When Ms. Koike was in Houston on other business this month, Ms. Cole invited her to take part in various Japan-related activities. One of these was the Womenomics Lunch in Houston, part of a series of lunches around the United States that USJC is holding with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ten women who had been born in, lived or worked in Japan exchanged ideas on how to support women leaders in Japan.

Member News

Donna Cole featured in The Houston Chronicle

USJC Board Member Donna Cole was featured in The Houston Chronicle for her work with Pantheon of Women, a company that produces independent films. Their first film, I Dream Too Much, was just shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this past Sunday. Ms. Cole and others founded Pantheon of Women to produce “film and television that change the way women are perceived by men and the way women perceive themselves.”Click here to read the article.


Upcoming Events

November 21 – U.S.-Japan Relations Symposium (Evanston, IL)

Date & Time: November 21, 2015 from 9:30am to 6:00pm
Venue: Harris Hall, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

This symposium, co-sponsored by USJC, will offer a unique and in-depth examination of the relationship between Japan and the United States. In particular, we will explore the role the Nikkei community in the Midwest can play and its relevance for the future relationship between these two nations.

We hope you will attend and support Council Member and JALD alumnus Rick Morimoto, who helped spearhead this event. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and other USJC members are also participating as moderators and/or panelists.

For additional information and the RSVP link, please click here.

December 4 – “Off the Menu: Asian America” Screening (Houston, TX)

Love food? Appreciate a good story? Then you’ll love “Off the Menu: Asian America.” The Off the Menu series, produced by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and KQED Public Media “celebrates how family, tradition, faith, and geography shape our relationship to food. Traveling across the United States, the documentary delves into a wealth of stories, traditions, and unexpected characters that help nourish America as a nation of immigrants.”

This episode features Houston-based USJC Member Glen Gondo, the acclaimed “Sushi King of Houston.”


To sign up for the Houston screening, visit The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston event page.
Not in Houston? To learn more about the documentary and to find out when it will be on TV, view the CAAM page.



Working under the Executive Director of TOMODACHI, the Program Manager is responsible for helping to find, select, develop, manage, monitor and evaluate TOMODACHI programs, including managing relationships with implementing organizations. The Program Manager will work with individuals from the U.S.-Japan Council, the U.S. Embassy and other key TOMODACHI team members in the implementation of this mission.

For more information and to apply, click here.