U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (September 14th, 2017)

New U.S. Ambassador and Embassy Show Strong Support for 2017 TOMODACHI Generation Summit

Ambassador Hagerty waves to participants after giving remarks

New U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty showed strong support for the TOMODACHI Initiative at the 2017 TOMODACHI Generation Summit, which was held in Tokyo on September 10. Speaking at a reception that was part of the summit, he emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship, calling it “ironclad,” and stated that TOMODACHI alumni are “the new caretakers of [the] partnership.” The ambassador had just arrived in Tokyo in mid-August, and this was his first public show of support for TOMODACHI.

The summit was planned and executed entirely by TOMODACHI alumni. It highlighted alumni activities, offered leadership development opportunities and skills-building workshops, and connected alumni to each other and the larger network of USJC. Six alumni-led workshops explored different themes, including community, identity, leadership, STEM fields, travel and entrepreneurship. Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Tokyo Joe Young was among the panelists who discussed the role of the TOMODACHI Generation in shaping the future. Attendees also heard from professionals in the education, food and beverage, technology, government, nonprofit and hospitality industries. Participants also learned about study abroad opportunities and the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework.

TOMODACHI alumni exchange ideas during a workshop

The concluding reception featured performances by the Young Americans, who have encouraged many TOMODACHI participants over the years with their song and dance workshops. Besides the Ambassador, guests at the reception included member of the USJC Board of Councilors Masaharu Kohno, who is Senior Advisor to the TOMODACHI Initiative as well as Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe and Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East Peace.

We would like to thank the many guests and speakers at the TOMODACHI Summit, and the alumni who organized it. We’d also like to thank Mr. Takehiko Fukuda, Director of the Board, Prudential Holdings of Japan, Inc. Mr. Fukuda attended the summit on behalf of Prudential Foundation, which generously supports TOMODACHI alumni programs.

Click here for more photos from the summit.

Recent Events

Eleventh Business Advisory Board Discusses Changes in U.S. Political Landscape

Dr. Okimoto meets with members of the audience during the networking session

The 11th U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on September 7, welcoming Dr. Daniel I. Okimoto, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, Co-Chair of the Silicon Valley Japan Platform and inaugural Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, as the featured speaker.

Member of the USJC Board of Directors, Scott Sato, opened the event by welcoming BAB members and USJC members. This was followed by remarks from BAB Chairman Masaaki Tanaka, who is also Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors. USJC Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Laura Winthrop Abbot, shared information on the 2017 Annual Conference and other activities.

As is customary for BAB, a few special guests introduced themselves prior to the keynote speech, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB membership. Mr. Randall Chafetz, Managing Executive Officer, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.; Mr. Kenji Goto, Executive Officer, Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.; Ms. Yumi Yamaguchi, President & CEO of Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute; Ms. Junko Watanabe, Partner & Board Member, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC, were among those who briefly discussed their career as well as their role in U.S.-Japan relations.

Council Leader Yumi Yamaguchi was one of the distinguished guests

Dr. Okimoto’s keynote speech, titled “The Donald Trump Presidency,” addressed the crucial and fundamental challenges that the United States faces today. He noted that the United States has experienced downward social mobility with many social issues, such as obesity, opioid addiction and rising mortality rates. Despite living in one of the richest nations in the world, U.S. citizens suffer from lack of health care. There has been a widening gap between the richest and the poor since 1980. On top of that, the influence over states by large corporations and businesses has led to inequality and inefficiency. The decrease in manufacturing is causing anger, and international trade agreements and immigrants are being blamed for the lack of jobs. A more equitable income distribution is needed, as well as open, fact-based dialogue for the collective, national good.

Dr. Okimoto’s keynote speech addressed the current political changes in the United States

Dr. Okimoto continued that in terms of U.S.-Japan relations, President Trump and Prime Minister Abe share cordial relations, and the structure of bilateral interdependence is perhaps the sturdiest in the world. Japan’s gravest concerns are President Trump’s policy on China and North Korea. North Korea will be a challenge for President Trump, and how he handles this issue will determine his legacy. The speech concluded that the strength and resilience of American democratic institutions are being tested, but that the United States is capable of rebounding from confusion.

After his speech, Dr. Okimoto met with the attendees alongside Ms. Michiko Okimoto (also a Council Leader) and answered countless individual questions. The attendees then enjoyed networking over food and drinks.

Mr. Scott Sato meets with guests during the networking session

Click here to see more photos.

Hawaii Members Hear from Hōkūle‘a Crew

Many thanks to Associate and ELP ’13 Nate Gyotoku for the below article, and Associate and ELP ’14 Lynn Miyahira Krupa for the photos!

He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa – The canoe is an island, the island is a canoe

On June 17, Hawaii’s voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa returned to Oahu after completing its three-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The Hōkūle‘a navigators used traditional Polynesian wayfinding to navigate to places like Tahiti, Australia, Bali, South Africa, Brazil, New York City and Rapa Nui. Its mission was to grow the movement of malama honua, or “caring for Island Earth.” Earth is isolated in the sea of space, much like how Hawaii or the Hōkūleʻa is isolated in the middle of the ocean, and its crew needs to care for it.

Mr. Kino (left) and Ms. Tomita (right), who spoke to USJC Members in Hawaii on August 30

Our Hawaii Region was fortunate to hear about the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage from two Hōkūle‘a crew members, Education Specialist Miki Tomita and Apprentice Navigator Austin Kino. Miki delivered an informative presentation about the mission of the voyage. Miki spoke about the Hōkūle‘a’s first voyage to Japan, which was the ship’s first voyage outside Polynesia. Seeing the overwhelming positive response from the Japanese, who waited in long lines just for an opportunity to touch Hōkūle‘a, inspired the Polynesian Voyaging Society to begin planning a worldwide voyage. (Click here or on the screenshot below to see a piece Great Big Story did on the voyaging canoe last year.)


Austin Kino followed up Miki’s presentation by talking about how he is using his wayfinding knowledge to create a socially-conscious business. He spoke about how he shares traditional sailing with visitors by taking them out on canoes while emphasizing the need to take care of the land and ocean. Austin continues to share the message of the Hōkūle‘a through his work and volunteer efforts.

The Hōkūle‘a is embarking on a Mahalo (Thank You) Hawaii Sail to approximately 40 ports throughout Hawaii to thank the community for their support.

Visit www.hokulea.com for more information.

The speakers with USJC Associates and ELP Alumni

Click here to see more photos.

DC Members Discuss Cosmopolitan Approach to Women in Leadership

On September 7, USJC hosted a panel discussion at the Japan Information & Culture Center in Washington, DC called “Women in Leadership: Breaking Glass Ceilings.” This was part of the Regional Women in Leadership (RWL) series, in which USJC members organize and attend events in their respective regions, with generous funding from the Embassy of Japan.

More than 80 people gathered to hear the three distinguished speakers from diverse backgrounds: Ms. Hiroko Inaoka, Counselor to the Executive Director for Croatia, Japan, Korea, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, DC; Ms. Marcia Ogawa Matsubayashi, Senior Partner and Leader of Telecom, Technology and Media Industry at Deloitte Brazil; and Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare and Director of Naval Intelligence for the U.S. Navy. (Click here to see the speakers’ full biographies.)

Minister Shimada (right) addresses the audience as Ms. Matsubayashi (left) and Mr. Mori (center) look on

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Minister Takehiro Shimada, Minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Japan, gave opening remarks. DC Regional Chair Edson Mori ​moderated the discussion, and Associate and ELP ’15 Rei Tsuchiya emceed the event.

What was unique about this discussion was having the perspective of a third country, Brazil. When asked about trends in the U.S. or Brazil that Japan can learn from, Ms. Matsubayashi said that it is difficult for minority women to be visible in Brazil, but that she tries to be present and expose herself. VADM Tighe said that the Navy is encouraging women in STEM fields to join the military. While change takes time with the military’s “bottom up” approach of fostering talent (she graduated with the fifth class of the U.S. Naval Academy that included women), they are trying to increase women naval officers.

In terms of changes Japan can make on its own, Ms. Inaoka, who is seconded to IDB from the Japanese Ministry of Finance, said that Japan needs a more flexible and diverse working style. An American colleague had once noted that even though Japanese people are known for punctuality, they are irresponsible about the end of their working hours. Due to concerns of an inflexible schedule and how busy they might become, some women are reluctant to be promoted.

Ms. Inaoka (left) and VADM Tighe (right) share their insights

As part of the Q&A, Minister Shimada, who has two daughters, asked for advice for young women. Ms. Matsubayashi said that young women can think about how their work improves society (that is possible in many fields, like technology or law), which in turn will make their work more fulfilling. VADM Tighe said that there are also many opportunities for service, like military and public service, and that it’s important to find something they are passionate about. In terms of excelling in the workplace, the speakers recommended: expose yourself; continue working and never give up; and partner with people who can supplement your weaknesses.

We thank the speakers, the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Mori and DC Regional Vice Chair David Boone for organizing this event!

VADM Tighe conversing with guests

Click here to see more photos.

Networking Event with Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC

(L-R) Mr. Koji Azuma, Vice President and General Manager of Sojitz Corporation of America, Minister Mori and Council Leader Ken Kurokawa pose for a photo

On September 8, members of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC (JCAW) and DC-based USJC members gathered for a networking event. About 50 leaders gathered to mingle and enjoy food and drinks, as they exchanged stories about their summers and discussed the latest developments in the nation’s capital.

Special guests included Ms. Masako Mori, Member of the House of Councillors and former Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate, and Ms. Hiroko Inaoka and Ms. Marcia Ogawa Matsubayashi, who had spoken at the women in leadership event the day before. We thank Mr. Max Hori, General Manager of the Washington, DC office of Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.) Inc., who generously hosted guests at his beautiful residence along with Mrs. Hori. We also thank DC Regional Chair Edson Mori for working with JCAW to organize the get-together!

(L-R) Associate and ELP ’13 Yuuki Shinomiya, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Associate and ELP ’15 Rei Tsuchiya share a laugh

​Click here to see more photos. ​

Japanese Universities Learn More About Watanabe Scholarship


USJC Director of Education Mya Fisher and Program Coordinator Grace Kim are currently in Japan, visiting several universities to speak with students and administrators about the Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship for Study Abroad. This scholarship provides financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students for a semester or year-long study abroad program in the United States. A generous endowment gift of $10 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe to the U.S.-Japan Council makes it possible to award scholarships to students for whom study abroad would not be possible without financial support.

Mya and Grace are visiting universities in various parts of Japan, including the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Meiji Gakuin, Kyushu University, Fukuoka Women’s University, Chukyo University, Nagoya University and Osaka Gakuin. On September 9, along with TOMODACHI staff, they also had the chance to speak to Japanese students interested in studying in the United States at the America EXPO 2017, which was hosted by the U.S. Embassy Tokyo.


From Disaster Relief to Leaders of the Future: Sharing Successes of the TOMODACHI Initiative

On September 13, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye delivered keynote remarks at a conference at the Wilson Center called “Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Disaster Response and Cybersecurity in a Time of Rising Challenges and Constrained Resources.”

Ms. Hirano Inouye had been asked to discuss the TOMODACHI Initiative. She illustrated how efforts stemming from providing hope to youth affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake has continued to evolve and expand over the years. She shared her own personal experience of the day of the earthquake (when she happened to be in Tokyo), as well as TOMODACHI’s ongoing commitment to supporting the Tohoku region. She also shared examples of programs related to disaster relief, such as the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program and the TOMODACHI Alumni Disaster Resilience Training Program, and how alumni of the latter program provided support after last year’s Kumamoto Earthquake and the Kyushu flooding last month. She also discussed how other programs, such as the TOMODACHI Food Innovation for Regional Sustainability in Tohoku (FIRST) Program and the TOMODACHI Aflac Program, have addressed other fields related to human security, like food and medicine.

Addressing the audience. Also pictured are (center) Ms. Shihoko Goto, Senior Associate for Northeast Asia, Asia Program, Wilson Center, and (seated) Mr. Jack Midgley, Senior Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for New American Security.

Responding to questions from the audience, she also discussed how the programs are designed through close consultation with donor companies, how donor companies are often engaged in the programs not only through funding but also through hands-on support by their staff, and how USJC is addressing challenges in Asia through other programs like the Asian American Leadership Delegation Program.


The following article is part of a year-long series by participants of the 2016 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Reflection from Sakura Yagi (ELP ’16)

When I attended the 2015 USJC Annual Conference in Tokyo as an Associate, I was thrilled to meet all the open-hearted, highly accomplished individuals in the Emerging Leaders Program. I was honored, intimidated and excited to be chosen as an ELP delegate the following year. My experience at the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley made me fall even more in love with USJC’s mission, members, staff and programs, especially ELP.

ELP won my immediate trust by facilitating and nurturing one-of-a-kind connections. Among the many memories I have of the program, including captivating speeches, engaging breakout sessions, and fun nights out, it is the honest interactions with my classmates, ELP alumni and ELP sponsors that stick out to me the most.

The author (right) enjoys a night out in Silicon Valley with fellow 2016 Emerging Leaders

These interactions varied, ranging from inspiring conversations to small but significant moments of connection, such as the ELP sponsors’ encouragement to continue pushing the envelope and ourselves; Britt Yamamoto’s training session that questioned preconceived labels that we assign ourselves; discussions about the challenges of straddling two cultures that feel slightly foreign to us no matter where we are or how well we speak the languages; and laughter as we shared shortcutting tricks for writing Japanese business emails and commiserated about the added burden of having a ‘misleading’ Japanese name to sign them off.

Those conversations are continuing to this day, whether it’s at an informal dinner with ELP sponsors Honjo-san of ITO EN and Gotoh-san of Tokyu Group to talk about the intricacies of family businesses, or late night LINE conversations with my ELP roommate Sachi Siegelman reminding each other to find work/life equilibrium, not work/life balance, as Kathy Matsui suggested at the Annual Conference.

2016 Emerging Leaders have fun with ELP sponsors

The camaraderie among members across generations, industries and time zones is what makes USJC and ELP unique. I continue to be inspired by Council Leaders and Associates in the New York City region. Last Friday in Brooklyn, we held Collision, a benefit concert attended by over 220 guests that featured Tokyo, LA & NY artists to raise awareness of USJC.

By being involved in USJC and staying connected to the myriad of remarkable, young Japanese Americans that make up ELP, I feel like I’ve finally found somewhere I belong. To borrow a quote from Sky Country, a recently published book of poems written by my ELP classmate Christine Kitano:

“But wait. Just now a light
approaches, its rich band draws
you forward, out of the shadows.
It is here, the bus that will ferry
you home.”

The author (right) with her fiancé Kenshiro Uki (ELP ’14; left) and Kathy Matsui

Thanks to Irene Hirano Inouye, Kaz Maniwa, Allison Murata, ELP sponsors, NYC regional members, and ELP alumni for providing us a platform to continue contributing to society and strengthening US-Japan ties. Thank you for bringing me ‘home.’


Japanese American Leadership Delegation Applications Due September 22

Applications for the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program are now open! This program provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the United States to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, nonprofit and cultural sectors. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), represented in the U.S. by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC and 17 consulate general offices, sponsors the program. USJC provides administration and organization for the program.

Please see the Japanese American Leadership Delegation webpage for more information. The application deadline for this year is September 22, 2017. Trip dates are March 2-10, 2018, with a mandatory pre-trip orientation (February 2-3, 2018) in Los Angeles.

2017 Annual Conference: Register Now!

Have you registered for the 2017 USJC Annual Conference in Washington, DC? We now have a promotional video showcasing past conferences, highlighting a few of this year’s speakers and featuring Washington, DC sites! Click here or on the image below for a sneak peek of what’s in store for this year’s conference! Be sure to register now before rates go up at the end of September by visiting the USJC Annual Conference registration site in English or Japanese.


U.S.-Japan Council 2017 Annual Conference
Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together
JW Marriott Washington, DC
November 11-14 (See below for schedule)

Each year, USJC’s Annual Conference is attended by distinguished U.S. and Japanese leaders from all sectors, including business, government and civil society. This year’s conference will focus on developments under the new U.S. presidential administration and on Capitol Hill. Attendees will exchange views on how to get work done to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship. We expect the conference to draw over 700 leaders from throughout the United States and Japan.

This year’s speakers include:

Wes Bush

CEO and

Kazuhiko Toyama

Platform, Inc.

Nobuchika Mori

U.S. Deputy
National Security
Advisor for

Haruno Yoshida

President &
BT Japan
Board of

Dina Powell

U.S. Deputy
National Security
Advisor for

Invited speakers include:

  • Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation
  • Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan
  • Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Other speakers include:

  • Mark Calabria, Chief Economist, Office of the Vice President
  • Michael Green, Japan Chair & Senior Vice President for Asia, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Emiko Higashi, Managing Director, Tomon Partners
  • Tamotsu Hiiro, President, Johnson & Johnson Medical Japan
  • Irene Kawanabe, Director, National Conference on State Legislatures
  • Izumi Kobayashi, Director, ANA Holdings
  • Sachiko Kuno, Founder & Chair, Halcyon
  • Sarah LaFleur, CEO, MM.LaFleur
  • Kathy Matsui, Vice Chair, Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd.
  • Keiko Orrall, State Representative, Massachusetts State Legislature
  • Gill Pratt, CEO, Toyota Research Institute
  • John Roos, Co-Founding Partner, Geodesic Capital & Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Tim Rowe, Founder & CEO, Cambridge Innovation Center
  • J. Thomas Schieffer, President and CEO, Envoy International & Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Kurt Suzuki, Professional Baseball Catcher, Atlanta Braves (MLB)
  • Paul Yonamine, Chairman, GCA Corporation

Topics will include:

  • Policy Experts Forum on U.S.-Japan Current Affairs
  • Regional Relations Beyond Washington and Tokyo
  • International Business Integration and Growth Industries
  • Developing the Workforce of the Future
  • Women’s Leadership and Success on Corporate Boards

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please click here for more information on sponsorship benefits.

Member News

Akemi Kurokawa Receives Foreign Minister’s Commendation

Congratulations to Council Leader Akemi Kurokawa, who received a Foreign Minister’s Commendation from Consul General Yasushi Misawa in Honolulu! Mr. Kurokawa, Director of the Breakers Hotel, was recognized for his efforts in promoting economic relations between Japan and the United States.

(L-R, front row) Ms. Yoko Misawa, Consul General Misawa, Mr. Kurokawa and Ms. Misako Kurokawa with (back row) Mr. Kurokawa’s family (Photo courtesy of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu)

Upcoming Events


Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators

When: October 5, 2017 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Where: Sasakawa Peace Foundation, 11th Floor, International Conference Room

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and USJC are pleased to host a panel discussion with six distinguished Asian American state legislators from diverse backgrounds who are participating in the 2017 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) program.

AALD gives selected state-elected Asian American officials the opportunity to visit Japan for one week to meet and exchange ideas with Japanese political, governmental, business and community leaders at both the national and local levels. It aims to enhance mutual understanding and network building between Japan and the United States.

During the panel discussion, delegates will talk about their respective political and personal journeys in the United States. The audience will have the opportunity to learn about their personal choices, as well as the important role Asian American politicians play in their political arenas, especially in light of current events.

For more information, please visit the event page. An event flier is also available here. Registration is required by Wednesday, October 4.

Special Luncheon and Keynote Speech by Ambassador Masaharu Kohno


When: November 16, 2017 from 11:30am to 2:30pm
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown

The Japan America Society of Southern California, USJC and partnering organizations present a Special Luncheon and Keynote Speech by Ambassador Masaharu Kohno, Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe, and Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East Peace. He is also a member of the USJC Board of Councilors and Senior Advisor to the TOMODACHI Initiative.

Ambassador Masaharu “Masa” Kohno will make his first public appearance in Southern California since completing his posting as Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles in 2003. He will discuss his current work in Tokyo, as well as U.S.-Japan cooperation in international affairs.

Admission is $75 per guest and $750 for a table of 10 (preferred seating). For more information and to register, please see the Japan America Society of Southern California webpage here.

Global Change Agents


When: October 12, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:30pm
Where: The Four Seasons Seattle

The Seattle Trade Alliance will host global change agents Sumit Chauhan (Corporate Vice President, Office Experience Organization, Microsoft), Sarah Al-Shawwaf (Senior Director, Albright Stonebridge Group Middle East and North Africa Practice) and Nicole Brodeur (Columnist, Seattle Times) to discuss how women in leadership can thrive among cultural differences and expectations.USJC is a co-promoter of this event. Please see the event page for more information.

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties


When: Ongoing through November 19, 2017
Where: Alphawood Gallery in Chicago, IL

The Alphawood Gallery, in partnership with the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) presents an exhibition in Chicago about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and postwar resettlement. This is the largest such exhibition to ever open in the Midwest Region. During this 75th anniversary year of Executive Order 9066, this exhibit looks back at these events to learn lessons for our present and future in the face of new challenges created in today’s society.

Click here for more information.


Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II

When: Ongoing through February 19, 2018
Where: National Museum of American History

In February, the National Museum of American History opened a year-long 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.


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.