U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (November 20th, 2018)

USJC Annual Conference: Summary and Photos

Thank you to everyone who joined us or supported us for the 2018 Annual Conference in Tokyo! Below is a brief summary. The Conference webpage will be continuously updated in the coming weeks with more information.

Conference Summary

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (center) with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye (left) and Vice-Chair of the USJC Board of Directors Tomoko Kizawa (right)

The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), together with the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), held its ninth Annual Conference from November 8 to 9 in Tokyo, Japan. More than 700 leaders from Japan and the United States attended the conference, which was themed “Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow.” Issues they discussed included how to further develop philanthropy and the NPO sector in both countries, how to create a more sustainable future for all, as well as how to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship regardless of political trends. The Conference also highlighted women and millennial leaders, as well as those who lead in diverse areas such as sports and technology.

The conference explored the many ways Japanese and American leaders can ensure a long, sustainable future for the United States and Japan. As the two Distinguished Speakers, Yuriko Koike (Governor of Tokyo) spoke about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Kanetsugu Mike (President & CEO of MUFG Bank, Ltd.) spoke about the importance of innovation for both countries to continue to thrive. Peter Fitzgerald (President, Google Japan G.K.) and Dr. John Maeda (Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic) were among the leaders discussing technology from the angles of design thinking and diversity. Peter Landers (Tokyo Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal), Dr. Yoichi Funabashi (Co-founder and Chairman, Asia Pacific Initiative, and Former Editor-in-Chief, The Asahi Shimbun) and Dr. Takako Hikotani (Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University) discussed the U.S. midterm elections that took place just a few days prior, and how U.S.-Japan relations will remain solid regardless of domestic politics. Toshio Arima (Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Network Japan) and Hiroko Kuniya (Member of the USJC Board of Councilors; Journalist; Goodwill Ambassador for Japan, UN Food and Agriculture Organization) discussed how the two countries can collaborate to fulfill Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a global level.

Kabuki Actor Ebizo Ichikawa gave a special performance

Others focused on the importance of fostering the next generation of leaders who continue to strengthen our bilateral relations. Students who participated in exchange programs of the TOMODACHI Initiative shared how their time abroad transformed their lives. U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty congratulated TOMODACHI alumni at a reception dedicated to their continued success. Millennial Japanese American leaders who are alumni of the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program discussed how diversity and inclusion will continue to play a crucial role in both countries.

At the same time, speakers recognized that success is only possible because of the groundbreaking work of current and past leaders. A video message from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the efforts of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. A session on “Gannenmono,” the first group of Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii 150 years ago, showed how the solid ties between Hawaii and Japan is based on personal relationships built within the community. Ebizo Ichikawa, Kabuki Actor, gave a special performance during the TOMODACHI Reception to showcase the Japanese traditional art to a global audience. The Japan Film Premiere of An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy celebrated the life and career of Secretary Mineta (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors; President & CEO, Mineta & Associates, LLC; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce) as a pioneering Japanese American politician committed to justice and bipartisanship.

Secretary Mineta (right) with Dianne Fukami (Council Leader; President, Bridge Media; Director/Co-Producer, Mineta Legacy Project) (left) and Debra Nakatomi (Council Leader; President, Nakatomi & Associates; Co-Producer, Mineta Legacy Project) (center)

Other panel discussions, workshops and interactive fora centered on topics such as sustainable business practices, women in leadership, and efforts to work with aging populations. Japanese prefectural governors Ryuta Ibaragi (Governor of Okayama Prefecture), Dr. Heita Kawakatsu (Friend of the Council; Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture) and Hidehiko Yuzaki (Friend of the Council; Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture) discussed regional collaboration through activities like USJC’s Governors’ Circle initiative, and TED-style talks by various industry leaders analyzed U.S.-Japan relations through their respective fields.

(A complete schedule and bios of speakers are available in the Conference print program.)

Click here to see more photos from the Conference.

2019 Annual Conference
USJC’s 10th Annual Conference will be held in Los Angeles from November 4 to 5, 2019. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us!

Recent Events

Regional Women in Leadership Program Held in Sacramento

A scene from one of the workshops

On October 29, USJC hosted a Regional Women in Leadership (RWL) program called “Finding Your Voice – Empowering You!” at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento. This event brought together prominent Japanese and American speakers, including department heads in the California State government, experts in higher education, and business leaders.

The keynote speaker was Ms. Marybel Batjer, Secretary at the State of California Government Operations Agency (CalGovOps). Mr. Ryosuke Kamono (Consul at the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco) and Dr. Paul Danczyk (Director of Executive Education in Sacramento, USC Price School of Public Policy) were among those providing welcome remarks. Panelists including Council Leader Genevieve Shiroma (Chair, Agricultural Labor Relations Board; Board of Directors, SMUD) shared their personal journeys into leadership. Following these discussions, attendees joined a workshop in small groups and built their own plans for empowerment, including choosing a mentor, seeking further training and expressing their ambition. (The full schedule of the event, bios of speakers and other details are available in the print program here.)

Representatives of the workshop groups present their findings

RWL is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). USJC members and supporters organize and attend panels, events and luncheons in their regions to network and discuss topics focused on women’s leadership. This event in Sacramento was also organized in collaboration with GovOps; ORA Systems, Inc.; University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy—State Capitol Center; Sacramento Chapter of the National Japanese American Citizens League; and the Matsuyama-Sacramento Sister City Corporation.

Many thanks to Council Leaders Miko Sawamura and Genevieve Shiroma for organizing this event!

JWLI Fellows and TOMODACHI Participants Discuss Ways to Make Society More Inclusive

Atsuko Fish giving an overview of JWLI

On October 30, nearly 100 people gathered at CIC in Cambridge, MA to listen to pitches by the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) Fellows and trainees of the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America. This event, called “Advocating for an Inclusive Society,” enabled the leaders to provide insight into some of the social issues Japan faces today, the lessons they’ve learned during their time in Boston, and the ways in which these advocates plan to take action when they return to Japan.

USJC Board Member Atsuko Fish discussed JWLI, which she founded 12 years ago. Ginny Fordham, Chair of USJC’s New England Region, gave remarks about USJC and encouraged the audience to consider becoming members and attending the Annual Conference in Tokyo. Other USJC members in the audience were Council Leader Paul Watanabe (Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston) and Associates Lianna Kushi (Executive Director, Entrepreneurship for All) and Erika Ninoyu (a graduate student of educational policy at Harvard University).

Ginny Fordham giving remarks about USJC


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD).

Reflection from David Inoue (JALD ’18)

Enjoying lunch with fellow delegates

The Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) trip is truly an experience unlike any other. And for that I remain forever grateful to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S.-Japan Council for facilitating the opportunity.

The JALD trip was especially touching to me as a Japanese American in how welcoming all the Japanese leaders were to us, as well as their strong desire to forge better relations between Japan and the Japanese American community.

I grew up in the 1980s when anti-Japanese sentiment was at its highest since the war. As a high school student I witnessed the trial for Vincent Chin’s murder come to my hometown of Cincinnati, which for me as a mixed Japanese and Chinese American was especially gut wrenching. I realize how intertwined the perceptions of Japan are to Asian Americans like me. It is certainly to my personal—and the Asian American community’s—benefit that our countries maintain strong and friendly relations.

In just a few weeks, I will be accompanying a group of 92 college students and young adults on the JACL Kakehashi trip, also funded by the Japanese government. Similar to the JALD trip, these students will experience much more than a generic guided tour as what will likely be described by many as life-changing. At JACL’s national convention in Philadelphia, we held a panel discussion on the Kakehashi program and its positive effects for the JA youth who attend.

In front of the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi prefecture

I continue to be impressed by the support from the Japanese government for preserving the Japanese American story. During the JALD trip, Foreign Minister Kono emphasized how important our story is to the Japanese people. The Tule Lake pilgrimage, which I attended in July, welcomed Consul General Uyama from San Francisco. I also attended the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage, which welcomed Deputy Consul General Kondo from Denver. There, I reunited with fellow JALD delegate David Ono. This was our second post-trip reunion, following the 19th anniversary of the Go For Broke Monument in June.


Here in Washington, DC, as the Embassy went through its planned switchover of staff, including welcoming Ambassador Sugiyama, we are enjoying forging relations with the new staff. Minister Kenichiro Mukai (Minister for Management and Coordination, Head of Chancery) has attended several activities of the Japanese American community, beginning with the JACL DC chapter’s annual Keiro Kai and most recently the Veterans Day event at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism.

As a Japanese American, and particularly as JACL Executive Director, I find it heartwarming to see the Japanese government’s strong interest in recognizing the vital role of the incarceration experience in creating our Japanese American identity. The JALD trip was an opportunity to share our experience as Japanese Americans with a wider Japanese audience through the symposium, and this extends through our continued engagement.

With fellow delegates near Ruriko-ji Temple in Yamaguchi


Supporting Those Affected by the Japan Floods


Japan recently experienced what is considered the worst weather disaster the country has faced in 36 years. The floods and landslides in western Japan in July led to severe damage, most notably in the Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures. Hundreds of people lost their lives, many suffered damages to their homes, and many more were left without water.

The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and our friends at other U.S.-Japan related organizations offer heartfelt thoughts to all who are affected. Many in the U.S. have strong ties to the Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama communities through people-to-people programs and exchanges. Many Japanese Americans also have family ties or personal connections to the region.

USJC, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i and the United States-Japan Foundation have established the Japan Flood Friendship Fund (JFFF) to aid those who are affected. 100% of the contributions will go to relief efforts through our network of nonprofit organizations that are working on the ground.

Thank you to those who have donated. Over the past seven years since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, we have worked with a number of local nonprofits in Japan. Based on this experience and our research about their current activities in the flood-affected regions, we have selected three organizations to disburse these funds to: Civic Force, Japan Platform and Peace Boat. The fund will remain open, and we thank you again for considering a donation to JFFF.

Please consider donating through the form here. If you would prefer to pay by check, please make your check payable to the U.S.-Japan Council and mail to:

U.S.-Japan Council
Attn: Japan Flood Friendship Fund
1819 L Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036

If you have any inquiries or would like to partner with us, please write to [email protected] or call 202-223-6840.

Member News

Denise Moriguchi Featured in Seattle Business

Congratulations to Council Leader Denise Moriguchi (JALD ’18), who is featured in this month’s Seattle Business Magazine! She discusses her work as President & CEO of Uwajimaya, as well as her Japanese American upbringing, and maintaining and expanding her family business. Click here to read the article.

Irene Hirano Inouye in The Asahi Shimbun

Irene Hirano Inouye was featured in The Asahi Shimbun‘s “Hito” column, which profiles accomplished individuals. She discusses her activities with USJC, the Japanese Amercian National Museum, and her work in U.S.-Japan relations. Click here to read the article in Japanese (free registration is required to read the article in its entirety).

Norman Mineta in Sankei Shimbun

Sankei Shimbun recently published an interview with Norman Mineta. He discusses his experience being incarcerated and his subsequent efforts in the redress movement, as well as his thoughts on the U.S. midterm elections and the need for more bipartisanship. Click here to read the article in Japanese.

Upcoming Events

“Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators”
– A Panel Discussion with U.S. State Legislators –

When: December 3, 2018
Where: Oriental Garden Osaka (Osaka, Japan)

Six elected state officials from diverse backgrounds and regions of the country will join the 2018 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) program, and speak at this symposium to discuss their political and personal journey as leaders. The discussion will be moderated by Karen Kelly, Consul General – U.S. Consulate General, Osaka-Kobe, and will be followed by a light reception.

Click here to see the flier on the symposium, and click here for more information on the AALD program. Please click here to register.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II

Where: National Museum of American History (Washington, DC)
When: Ongoing through December 8, 2018

Last year, the National Museum of American History opened an 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.


Membership Engagement & Regional Coordinator

The Membership Engagement & Regional Coordinator will have primary responsibility for the administrative and operational support of activities relating to the engagement of members, including membership and regional activities. Duties will include leading operational membership activities, database management, monthly reconciliation of membership and donor contributions, and supporting the Director of External Relations in the implementation of regional events and activities.

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.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the U.S.-Japan Council! As always, we are thankful for all of our wonderful members, sponsors and supporters.

We are thankful to everyone who make all our events possible, as well as the many participants and speakers. We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, no matter where you are!