U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (October 11th, 2018)

Regional Women in Leadership Programs Held in Michigan and Texas

Two Regional Women in Leadership (RWL) programs were held in the past few weeks: one in Oakland, Michigan, and another in Dallas, Texas. Each were supported by USJC members in the respective regions, and were well attended by local community leaders.

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.

“Women’s Leadership Conference” (Oakland, Michigan)

About 80 participants attended the Women’s Leadership Conference in Oakland, Michigan on September 26. USJC held this event in collaboration with Oakland County through the invitation of Council Leader Laurie Van Pelt (JALD ’18), who is the county’s Director of Management and Budget.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye gave the keynote speech that discussed the importance of people-to-people relations in advancing women’s leadership. This includes mentorships, peer networks like TOMODACHI alumni groups, male champions at work and at home, and relationships built during events like RWL.

Ms. Van Pelt (right) with Ms. Inouye (left) and Mr. Patterson

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson gave opening remarks. Ms. Van Pelt, Irene Spanos (Director, Economic Development & Community Affairs) and other women executives in the county discussed women’s leadership in government. Deputy Consul General Yuki Sakai, who traveled from the Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit, discussed the Government of Japan’s work in Womenomics. Mary Kamidoi, Treasurer of the Japanese American Citizens League Detroit Chapter, discussed her experience being incarcerated during the War, and her work in advancing civil rights since then. Other local Japanese American leaders, including a top interpreter, a professor of Japanese and an ice skating coach, discussed their career paths and showcased the many ways women achieve leadership.

(L-R) Yuka Sato (Coach and Choreographer, Detroit Skating Club); Ms. Sakai; Ms. Van Pelt; Izumi Suzuki (President, Suzuki, Myers & Associates, Ltd.); and Motoko Tabuse (Professor of Japanese, Department of World Languages, Eastern Michigan University)

Three JALD alumni attended the event, each traveling from out of town: Toshiki Masaki (JALD ’15) from Detroit; and Lisa Sakai (JALD ’18) and Marion Friebus-Flaman (JALD ’13) from Chicago.

We thank Ms. Van Pelt, Ms. Spanos and Oakland County for organizing this event; MOFA for the generous funding; and Mr. Masaki for the photos.

For more information, please see the print program here. Click here to see more photos.

“Building a Leadership Network for Women and Men” (Dallas, Texas)

Nearly 60 participants attended the first Regional Women in Leadership event in Dallas, Texas on October 5. Supported by and in collaboration with the City of Dallas, the workshop provided another unique occasion to gather women and men for USJC’s continuing initiative and conversation on the advancement of women and men in leadership.

(L-R) Ms. Iwata, Mr. Hughes, Ms. Vivas, Ms. Doi and Ms. Rosales

The event highlighted the accomplishments and challenges of women and men, while panelists provided practical advice and suggestions on advancing one’s career. The topic of a changing workforce was also discussed. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials who possess technical skills, and who can provide reverse mentoring to older workers. This generation will have grown up with technology that provides immediate and consistent access to information. Although millennials need to understand the “why” of things, they are cautioned by older managers that even if their ideas are not implemented, they should not feel discouraged; it doesn’t mean that they were not heard.

The workshop also featured two experienced executive coaches, Kay Iwata, K. Iwata Associates, Inc.; and Neena Newberry, Newberry Executive Solutions; who conducted career and skill-building exercises that assist with upward mobility for both women and men.

Ms. Newberry conducts a skill-building workshop

USJC Board Member Donna Cole served as Mistress of Ceremony. The audience was welcomed by Councilmember Jennifer S. Gates, City of Dallas; and heard remarks from John Stich, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Dallas; Consul General Hideo Fukushima, Consul General of Japan in Houston; and Irene Hirano Inouye, U.S.-Japan Council. Panelists included Tracey Doi, Toyota Motor North America (USJC Board Member), Inc.; Larry Hughes, 7-Eleven, Inc.; and Kyoko Vivas, Japan Airlines.

Special thanks to Council Leader Jiroko Rosales/Dallas Economic Development, Donna Cole / Cole Chemical; supporters and collaborators City of Dallas, Dallas Japanese Association, JETRO, Japan America Society of Dallas Fort Worth, and MOFA.

For more information, please see the print program here. Click here to see more photos.

Recent Events

(L-R) Council Leaders Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi discuss the film with Secretary Mineta

On September 27, a special screening of the new documentary An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy, created by Council Leaders Debra Nakatomi (Co-Producer) and Dianne Fukami (Director & Co-Producer), was held at the Newseum. This was the DC premiere for the hour-long documentary that discusses the life and career of Secretary Norman Mineta, Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors.

The film, which explores his childhood and incarceration during the War, his friendship with Senator Alan Simpson, his accomplishments as a politician, his contributions to the Redress movement and more, is part of the Mineta Legacy Project, which also includes an educational curriculum.

Ms. Nakatomi introducing the film

Following the film screening, Ms. Nakatomi and Ms. Fukami held a Q&A with Secretary Mineta. They revealed that the two producers had wanted to create this film for years, and that it took a while for the Secretary to agree. The Secretary said that he had worked simply because he wanted to “speak up on behalf of those who had little to no voice, and get people together to get things done”–and he was hesitant to be featured in such a prominent way. Yet, he came to see that important values like civility and bipartisanship seemed to be worth emphasizing in today’s world.

When asked about the importance of immigrants, he said that he’s not a fan of the term “melting pot” to describe the United States, because it sounds like each person would lose their identity. Rather, he would prefer to consider people as yarn: each is beautiful on its own, and when woven together, it makes a strong cloth. “You need immigrants for the strength and vitality of this country,” he said.

The screening was held at the Newseum, and many USJC members were among the audience

The film will premiere in Japan next month as part of the 2018 USJC Annual Conference. It will also air on PBS next year, and Ms. Nakatomi, Ms. Fukami and Secretary Mineta will be visiting various cities across the country to discuss the film.

Hawaii Members Prepare for the 2018 USJC Annual Conference

Many thanks to Council Leader Ann Teranishi (Regional Chair) for the write up, and to Ms. Teranishi and Associate Yoh Kawanami (Regional Vice Chair) for organizing this event!

Representative Director of the USJC (J) Board of Directors Royanne Doi (left) with Council Leader Noriko Namiki and Bill Dorman

On September 27, the Hawaii region held its second benkyokai (study group) to prepare USJC members for the upcoming Annual Conference in Japan. This “Japan 101” event allowed members to connect and find out who else was going to the Conference, as well as learn about Japanese current events, etiquette and great places to eat in Shibuya.

Thirty people gathered at Café Julia in our local YWCA thanks to the help of USJC Council Leader and Executive Director of the YWCA, Noriko Namiki. In addition to her help with the venue, Noriko volunteered her husband, Bill Dorman, VP, News Director for Hawaii Public Radio, to share the latest and greatest on Japanese current affairs. Bill did an outstanding job of updating us on topics such as Japanese politics, economics and foreign relations.

Associates Mitch Noguchi and Emi Au show their excitement for the Conference

Council Leader Yasu Ishikawa delivered a comprehensive tutorial on Japanese etiquette. We learned that the most common name in Japan is Sato and that there were 10 empresses in Japanese history. We did our best to practice 15-degree and 30-degree bowing, and learned a variety of topics from exchanging business cards and what not to do with your hashi (chopsticks)! Royanne Doi, who leads the USJC Board of Directors (Japan), was in Honolulu, and joined us to share terrific insights about the upcoming conference and added some helpful etiquette tips.

Council Leader Yasu Ishikawa discussing etiquette

We are all studying the Shibuya restaurant recommendations provided by USJC member Eric Takahata and can’t wait to try them all.

We are grateful to Noriko, Bill, Yasu, Royanne and Eric for sharing their knowledge and time with us. We are feeling even more excited for the Annual Conference, and hope we are now able to demonstrate omoiyari (social intelligence) and avoid being meiwaku (an annoyance to others). We look forward to seeing everyone in Japan soon, but please don’t judge us on our bowing skills…some of us are still beginners!

Many ELP alumni, USJC Associates and other friends gathered at the event

Foreign Minister Kono Meets JALD Alumni in New York

On September 23, Foreign Minister Taro Kono (Friend of the Council), who was in New York City to attend the UN General Assembly, met with local alumni of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) Program. This was on the heels of his August visit to Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles, when he also met with JALD alumni in each city. Minister Kono has been a staunch supporter of Japanese Americans and the JALD Program, and has met with almost every delegation in Tokyo.

FM Kono (center) with JALD alumni and Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi (left), Consul General of Japan in New York

Members Gather in Boston

USJC members based in the Boston area gather for lunch with Irene Hirano Inouye to hear updates on the Council’s activities.

ELP News

The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Yuko Watanabe (ELP ’17)

It’s hard to describe the Emerging Leaders Program without sounding a bit cultish. You go to this three day long program and come back feeling like a different person. Totally cultish, right…? At least that’s what I thought before joining the program.

ELP had an amazing impact on my personal and professional life, which is hard to quantify. The biggest change that I had going through ELP was that I started embracing my identity as a Japanese American.

I’ve never identified as Japanese American before. I’ve never had a spam musubi, never been to Hawaii and never had a single Japanese American friend in my life. I’m a first-generation Japanese immigrant, who has spent as many years on this side of the ocean as on the other side.

At the ELP training session during the 2017 Annual Conference in Washington, DC

My biggest fear going into ELP was that I wouldn’t fit in. So when Britt Yamamoto, Executive Director of iLEAP, who led the leadership training session, asked us to discuss what it means to be Japanese American, I hesitated. I didn’t think I was one.

Then I realized that I have more in common with my cohort than I imagined. I learned that we all shared the experience of struggling as a minority, especially at work. It was a relief to realize that it was a shared challenge, and not a personal one.

My daughter Emma (ELP 2035 hopefully) proudly wearing USJC Annual Conference gear

The time I joined ELP also coincided with a significant pivot in my professional life. I just left my previous job as a Japan relations lead for a large nonprofit, and started looking for a new adventure. I initially wanted to continue working on something related to Japan. But I also thought that I needed to stop being “the Japanese person in the office” and become “a person in the office.” And that felt a little sad.

So I looked around. I reached out to many in my cohort and several other senior USJC members who all graciously took the time to help me through my job (or really, soul) search. Slowly, I came to embrace the idea that I don’t have to work directly on Japan relations to continue being the Japanese person in the office. Many did so naturally by finding the right place to be, and being plugged into communities like USJC.

Now I work as Director of Operations at a FinTech startup called Stably in Seattle. I don’t do anything related to Japan, but I get to be the Japanese person among several different cultures that the company represents. After hours, I manage a blog that curates self-reflection essays written by Japanese women of my age all over the world. And I have an army of Japanese American friends to call on now.

Mini ELP reunion at the wedding of Danielle Higa (ELP ’17) in Seattle earlier this month

I’m very grateful to be part of USJC and ELP, and cannot thank sponsors enough for being so generous. I very much look forward to meeting the new cohort in Tokyo next month.


Register Now for the 2018 USJC Annual Conference in Tokyo!


U.S.-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference
Partnering for Impact Today, Investing in a Sustainable Tomorrow
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
November 8-9, 2018

This year, USJC returns to Tokyo to discuss how the United States and Japan can build a sustainable future together, and strengthen philanthropy in Japan. The Conference will explore ways to collaborate towards mutual goals like supporting women leaders, and face common challenges like aging populations and security issues in Asia. We will also discuss regional ties among various cities in both countries, as well as the impact the midterm elections will have in the United States.

Featuring a Kabuki Performance by:

Ichikawa, Ebizo_photo
Kabuki Actor Ebizo Ichikawa
歌舞伎俳優 市川海老蔵

Speakers Include:

Keiko Ihara

Race Car Driver

Kathy Matsui

Goldman Sachs
Japan Co., Ltd.

Kanetsugu Mike

President & CEO,
MUFG Bank, Ltd.

Sachin N. Shah

Chairman, President
and CEO,
Insurance K.K.;
The American
Chamber of
Commerce in Japan

Other Speakers Include:

  • Toshio Arima, Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Japan Network
  • Xavier Briggs, Vice President, Inclusive Economies and Markets, Ford Foundation
  • Chris DeGroot, Vice President – International Sales, American Airlines
  • Martijn Dekker, VP of Strategy, Shell Oil Company
  • Makiko Eda, Chief Representative Officer, Japan, Member of the Executive Committee, Tokyo Office, World Economic Forum Tokyo
  • Peter Fitzgerald, President, Google Japan G.K.
  • Dianne Fukami, President, Bridge Media, Inc.; Director & Co-Producer, An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy
  • Yoichi Funabashi, Chairman, Asia Pacific Initiative
  • Todd Guild, Senior Director, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
  • Fran Heller, Founder & CEO, Good2Go
  • Leona Hiraoka, President & CEO, Keiro
  • Ryuta Ibaragi, Governor of Okayama Prefecture, Japan
  • Yuuko Iizuka, General Manager, CSR Department, Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd.
  • Yuki Isogai, International Development, Sustainability Partner, PwC Japan
  • Katsuji Imata, Board Chair, CSO Network Japan; Vice Chairperson, Board of Directors, Japan NPO Center
  • Yuko Kaifu, President, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
  • Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
  • Jesper Koll, CEO, WisdomTree Japan
  • Mari Kuraishi, Co-Founder & President, GlobalGiving
  • Peter Landers, Tokyo Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • Norman Mineta, President & CEO, Mineta & Associates, LLC; Former Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation; Former Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Debra Nakatomi, President, Nakatomi & Associates, Inc.; Co-Producer, An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy
  • Takeshi Niinami, CEO, Suntory Holdings, Inc.
  • Daniel Okimoto, Director-Emeritus, Shorenstein APARC; FSI Senior Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stanford University
  • Alan Oshima, President & CEO, Hawaiian Electric
  • Lata Reddy, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Impact, Prudential Financial, Inc.; Chair and President, The Prudential Foundation
  • Yuka Tanimoto, Deputy Editor in Chief, Forbes JAPAN
  • Hidehiko Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan

Japan Premiere of An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy


Presented by Mineta Legacy Project, the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the U.S.-Japan Council, the documentary film, An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy, chronicles the life and career of Secretary Norman Mineta (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors), an Asian American pioneer who rose to the highest levels of public service. Join us on Friday, November 9 for the Japan premiere of An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy and panel featuring Secretary Norman Mineta and filmmakers and Council Leaders Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi. There will be a light reception following the panel. This screening is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here for more information and to register and here to see the film trailer.

Networking Dinners:
This year’s conference will offer a limited number of optional small dinners and outings in the local Tokyo area. The key purpose for the dinners is to promote cross-cultural understanding and build connections among conference attendees through shared meals. Dinners will be scheduled on both Wednesday, November 7 and Friday, November 9. Click here for a full list of hosts, venues and descriptions and to sign up for a networking dinner*You must be a registered conference attendee to participate.

Optional Offsite Trips:
This year’s conference agenda includes a limited number of optional offsite trips to a few destinations in the local Tokyo area and beyond. Signup is now available! Click here for a full list of destinations, trip leaders and descriptions of each offsite trip*You must be a registered conference attendee to participate (with the exception of the WIT Tohoku Trip featured below).

Inside Tokyo2020
November 10, 2018


Are you interested in learning about and/or attending the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? The Tokyo 1964 Games completely transformed Japan. The 2020 Games are set out to be one of the most innovative in history. Join us on an intimate, insider pre-Games tour that will showcase the technologies, culture and preparation for the Games. Tour locations are currently being finalized. RSVP is limited to the first 25 people. Hosted by ZI—Zelek International, a travel company specializing in Japan.

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

Paul Yonamine Joins Central Pacific Financial Corporation and Central Pacific Bank

Congratulations to Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Paul Yonamine, who on October 1 became Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the Central Pacific Financial Corporation (CPF), as well as Executive Chairman of the Central Pacific Bank (CPB). He is also now the Non-Executive Chairman of GCA Corporation, Japan (he was previously the Executive Chairman). Mr. Yonamine will be discussing his strong ties to Hawaii (where CPF and CPB are based) and Japan at an upcoming event with the Japan-America Society of Hawaii.

Upcoming Events

Four Future Scenarios for North Korea: What Are the Implications for the United States and Japan, and How Should We Respond?

When: October 16, 2018
Where: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

Join Dr. Narushige Michishita, Professor of International Studies, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), for a lecture on the potential future for North Korea. Dr. Michishita is a specialist in Japanese security and foreign policy as well as security issues on the Korean Peninsula. This event is presented by the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan, the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles and JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, along with cooperating organizations Japan America Society of Southern California and USJC.

Click here for more information and to register.

Going Global: The Future of Auto Tech Opportunities for U.S.-Japan-Israel Cooperation


When: October 17, 2018
Where: Japan Society (New York, NY)

Co-organized by the American Jewish Committee (Asia Pacific Institute), The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and USJC, this panel discussion will focus on pioneer nations in auto tech: the United States, Japan and Israel. The expert speakers on the panel will address areas of trilateral cooperation, as well as major innovations that are sure to surface in the coming years. Admission is free but registration is required.

Click here for more information and to register.

“Product of Japan and Hawaii” with Paul Yonamine

When: October 24, 2018
Where: The Pacific Club (Honolulu, HI)

Join the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) for their Fall JASH Talk with Paul Yonamine (Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors). He will share stories of life growing up in Japan, his rise in corporate leadership to become the President and Country General Manager of IBM Japan, and his career promoting the globalization of Japanese corporate management and operations. Find out about Mr. Yonamine’s ties to Hawaii, and what Hawaii and Japan can mutually capitalize on with their very strong ties to each other.

Click here for more information and to register.

JWLI x TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Training Program
~Visions for an Inclusive Japan: Presentations by Japan’s Next Generation of Leaders~

When: October 30, 2018
Where: CIC (Cambridge, MA)

Fellows of the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI) and participants of the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Training Program in America will 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.

Click here for more information and to register.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II


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

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.