U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (October 1st, 2015)

The Asian American Leadership Delegation Inspires Audience in Kyoto

The 2015 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) is currently in Japan, about to begin their last day in Tokyo. The AALD program, currently in its second year, invites Asian American state legislators to Japan to meet with leaders in government, business and civil society. This year, six legislators are participating from states throughout the United States.

On September 28, the delegates spoke at a symposium at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, discussing their upbringings and political careers.

Hoon-Yung Hopgood (State Senator, Michigan State Legislature) ​speaks at the symposium

Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood shared how he was born in South Korea and adopted by a loving family in Michigan. He said that his father inspired him to enter politics: “I wanted to make sure that children . . . throughout Michigan had the same educational opportunities that I had.” Strong fathers were a common theme. Representative Kesha Ram said that her father, who immigrated from India, taught her not to be afraid of taking “the jungle shortcut” even if it seems risky, since “things work out and happen for a reason.”

Politics run in the family for many of the legislators. Maryland State Delegate Kriselda Valderrama’s father also won a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates and became “the first Filipino-American to hold a State Congressman position in the entire mainland U.S.” Representative Mark Nakashima of Hawaii, who comes from a family of politicians, said: “My first exposure to politics was as a child walking with my mother going door-to-door in the neighborhood passing out campaign cards for my grandfather.”

Kriselda Valderrama (State Delegate, Maryland General Assembly) ​addresses the audience

The legislators’ passions strengthen their political life. Senator Ervin Yen of Oklahoma ran for office after decades of service as a doctor, and is now focusing on healthcare reform. Representative Scott Kawasaki enjoys the beautiful nature that his home state of Alaska offers, and is working on protecting the environment.

Addressing the large number of students among the audience, the legislators shared their insight on why young people should run for office. The two women politicians were especially enthusiastic in pressing young women not to be shy. “All voices matter in politics,” said Representative Ram, who was first elected when she was 22. “No one else is going to speak for you.”

Saki Matsuda, a TOMODACHI Inouye Scholar from Ritsumeikan, also shared her experience in the United States and her passion for strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

Group photo with Professor Naoki Ishihara and Keiji Nakatsuji of Ritsumeikan University, ​as well as Saki Matsuda

We thank the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for funding this program, and the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators, the National Conference of State Legislatures and Ritsumeikan University for their strong support!

For more about the symposium, see this article by The Japan Times.

Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki Dazzles Business Leaders

The fourth Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on October 1, welcoming astronaut Naoko Yamazaki as the featured speaker.

Paul Yonamine, Chairman of the Board of Councilors of USJC(J), led the discussion. BAB Chairman and Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Masaaki Tanaka welcomed the leaders in attendance and USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye invited the audience to the Annual Conference.

Masaaki Tanaka speaks with attendees before the event begins

Mr. Sachin Shah, Chairman, President and CEO of Metlife Insurance K. K., spoke as a new member of BAB. He shared his experience with the Great East Japan Earthquake and the role insurance companies could play to support people, and his joy in supporting the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program.

Asian American state legislators participating in the Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) program also took part. Representative Kesha Ram of Vermont spoke on behalf of the delegates. “For four out of six of us, this is our first time in Japan,” she said. “And we find it to be a nation of great integrity and opportunity, which enjoys a deep friendship with the U.S.”

Representative Ram (State Representative, Vermont General Assembly) addresses the audience

Ms. Yamazaki shared her fascination with space, using powerful, striking photos of the moon and earth. She explored future possibilities like space tourism, space elevators and Japan-based space ports. She then delved into how she was an exchange student at the University of Maryland, and how the desire to study in the United States in turn started in junior high school with a pen pal from Ohio. Through her scholarships she met a female helicopter pilot, over 70 years old, who inspired Ms. Yamazaki to become an astronaut. Ms. Yamazaki now gives back to the community through TOMODACHI, Beyond TOMORROW and other activities.

Ms. Yamazaki deftly wove science with people-to-people relations. Showing the photo of the International Space Station (ISS), she said, “This is what human power could do with international cooperation.” In 2010, while aboard Discovery, she videotaped a bubble she made with a cherry blossom from Seattle– which had originally been gifted from Japan. “I appreciate all the human bonds between the United States and Japan,” she said. “I think the key to any project is strong human bonds.”

Ms. Yamazaki shares her experiences and discusses the future in space

She also shared that she was one of four women aboard Discovery— the first time there were that many women in space simultaneously. Representative Valderrama asked whether she was the first Asian woman in space (the answer is no; Ms. Chiaki Mukai, also of Japan, was the first). Board Member Kathy Matsui asked what could be done to encourage more Japanese women to become engineers, to which Ms. Yamazaki responded that starting at a young age is important. Women shouldn’t be afraid to “just apply,” she said. “That will already improve results.”

We thank Vice Chair of the Board of Directors Gary Moriwaki and Council Member Yoko Makino, who brought in Ms. Yamazaki as a speaker.

Annual Conference Special Event Highlight: “Tastes of Tokyo” Registration Opens!

Looking to expand your culinary horizon? Why not do so in Japan! If you are attending the 2015 Annual Conference in Tokyo, you have a chance to register for the “Tastes of Tokyo” event! Tokyo is arguably the culinary capital of the world, and we are pleased to offer a unique dining experience for this year’s Conference attendees. “Tastes of Tokyo” dinners are being organized for small groups of 8 – 15 individuals in restaurants across the city on Tuesday evening, November 10 beginning at 7:00 pm. There is nothing better to promote friendship and people-to-people exchange than sitting across a table and sharing a meal with fellow USJC colleagues and other Conference attendees.

These dinners will be offsite from the Conference and will be an additional cost. Pre-registration is required.

To view a list of the available venues and to register to the event, please visit the session page.

Please note that seating is limited and will be offered on a first registered, first served basis.

Pictures from two of the Tastes of Tokyo selection (L-R) Gyogo Ramen and Wa-China Roppongi.

In Memoriam

We were saddened to learn this week of the passing of Boston Council member, Dr. Sus Ito. He passed peacefully at his home. At 96 years old, an emeritus at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Ito led a remarkable life which included collecting an extensive number of photos of his experience during WWII with the 522nd Field Artillery Battilion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The photos included the liberation of two sub-camps at Dachau. Dr. Ito recently shared his stories in New York with some members and friends of the U.S.-Japan Council and the American Jewish Committee. He was accompanied to New York by his son-in-law James Ito-Adler who shared, “The trip to New York was a wonderful experience for Sus. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and it made his last days very rewarding and positive.”

Dr. Ito will be missed by all of us. The USJC extends our deepest condolences to the Ito family.

Member News

USJC Associate Member Ryohei Kawanishi’s Collection Presented at New York Fashion Week


USJC Associate Member Ryohei Kawanishi recently completed his fashion collection and it was featured at New York Fashion Week in late September. The collection is a culmination of his Parsons Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) graduate project, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor, Even. The collection, of eight different compositions, draws inspiration from French artist Marcel Duchamp’s famous artwork of the same name.

Both Vogue and Le Figaro photographed the collection.




The Executive Assistant position will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC’s Silicon Valley Project, including: office management; executive and organizational support for the Executive Director, Chairman and Executive Committee, SVJP; and general administrative support duties. The position requires an individual who is flexible, able to multi-task and prioritize, takes initiative, is well-organized, able to plan and meet deadlines and is comfortable working independently and as part of a team. Travel, including to Japan, is expected.


The duties include but are not limited to the following:

  • Maintain office calendar, schedule conference calls and provide scheduling and logistical support for the SVJP Executive Director and Chairman.
  • Provide support to the SVJP Executive Committee and related Advisory Committees including communication, organizing meetings, preparing minutes and arranging logistics for calls & meetings.
  • Organize screen calls and email inquiries, including fielding and responding to general information requests.
  • Provide administrative support for the SVJP Executive Director and Chairman, including travel support, credit card billings and other duties as required for the Executive Office.
  • Support visiting delegations from Japan, assist with coordinating travel, meeting arrangements and logistics support.
  • Organize events, such as conferences, seminars, meetings with Japanese and Silicon Valley corporations and industrial associations.
  • Order supplies and manage IT and other office equipment and software.
  • Liaison with office vendors.
  • Organize and maintain office filing system for office administration (electronic and hard copy).
  • Draft correspondence and other documents as needed.
  • Ensure compliance with office building policies.
  • Maintain donor and participant database, and ensure timely acknowledgement of contributions.
  • Manage petty cash, and process financial payments with the USJC Accounting Office.
  • Other duties as may be assigned.


This position is based in Silicon Valley, and reports operationally to the SVJP Chairman, and organizationally to the President of the U.S.-Japan Council. This position will report to an Executive Director of SVJP who will be hired in the future.


Minimum of two years’s work experience in administrative support and office management. Other qualifications include:

  • Ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines with attention to detail.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Salesforce.com and other databases, filing and office organizing systems.
  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Interest and experience in U.S.-Japan and Asia relations.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in working as a member of a team and developing effective working relationships with entrepreneurs, incubators, universities, Silicon Valley companies and traditional Japanese companies.
  • Commitment to professional ethics in working with highly confidential, sensitive information.
  • Comfort with ambiguity, the ability to respond adeptly to rapidly changing priorities and ability to work well under pressure.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Fluency in English is required. Fluency in Japanese language is strongly preferred.

How to Apply

Candidates should provide a cover letter, resume and 2-3 professional references to [email protected], subject line, “Executive Assistant- Silicon Valley Project.” Candidates must submit all necessary information and documents. Successful candidates will be requested for a phone or in- person interview. Review of applications will begin October 16, 2015.

Please download the PDF version of this description here.