U.S.-Japan Council Newsletter (September 3rd, 2015)

NY and DC Members Welcome Participants of the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program

Program participants and USJC Members gathered at Council Member Julie Azuma’s home in New York

Last month, college nursing students and their mentors from Miyagi prefecture traveled to New York and Washington, DC as part of the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program. The two-week program supports capacity building of nurses in the Tohoku region by focusing on the field of disaster medicine. While in the United States, these talented and motivated young women met with their American counterparts and engaged with leaders to learn about disaster medicine.

The aspiring nurses pay close attention during their lessons

Upon arriving in New York, the students attended a reception hosted by the Japanese American Association of New York, where USJC Board Member Susan Onuma welcomed the group to the United States. More than 60 people attended, including guests who were New Yorkers from the Tohoku region, staff members of the Japanese Consulate, as well as Japanese nurses and doctors working in the New York area. While in New York, they also attended presentations by 9.11 and 3.11 survivors, the Port Authority, and Beyond Tomorrow participants, and visited the 9.11 Tribute Center. Board Member Gary Moriwaki joined the group in these activities. Council Member Julie Azuma hosted a hospitality dinner at her home, with the support of a number of Members: Susan Hamaker helped organize the potluck dinner, and Junko Tsunashima, Yuki Kaneshige, Donna Tsufura, David Hiromura and Stan Nakazono prepared homemade dishes that were enjoyed by all. “All the nurses were so inspiring and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with them,” said Ayumi Takita, Program Director of the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, after joining the dinner.

A scene from the potluck dinner

In DC, the group took part in hands-on training at the Children’s National Medical Center, which implemented this program under the leadership of Outreach Coordinator (and USJC Friend of the Council) John Walsh. The participants met with the Red Cross as well. They also had the opportunity to visit the Uniformed Services University Health Sciences Center (USUHS) Daniel Inouye School of Nursing, where they learned about the late Senator’s commitment and support of those in the profession of nursing. The program culminated in a reception hosted by Children’s National, where each of the participants gave a short presentation about what they had learned during the program and how they will apply their experience to their studies and future careers. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye gave brief remarks encouraging the young women to continue studying and participating in global activities. Council Members Neil Horikoshi, Amy Yamashiro, Dave Boone, Margaret Cummisky and Edson Mori, as well as Associate Member Janelle Kuroda, attended the reception.

A scene from the reception at Children’s National

“My goal is to one day work with the Red Cross’s International Relief division, so I hope to return to America again in the near future to study,” said program participant Natsumi Miyakawa at the conclusion of the program. “I intend to work diligently until we meet again! [This program] was very solid, fulfilling training. I’d like to keep thinking about how I can be of help in Japan, for Japan, and for the [rest of the] world.”

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye (second from left) and Executive Assistant & Office Manager Sonoko Plummer (right) with two program participants

Recent Events

TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Get-Together – Honolulu

(L-R) Nicole Velasco, Nate Gyotoku, Kei Ashizawa, Margot Sakazaki and her spouse, John Rankin, Lynn Miyahira, Kent Walther and Aki Marceau

Courtesy of Kei Ashizawa, alumna of the 2011 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP):

On August 20 at Mud Water Hen in Honolulu, almost all Hawaii-based alumni of the Emerging Leaders Program gathered to “talk story,” and say hello to incoming 2015 ELP Nicole Velasco and visiting 2011 ELP Kei Ashizawa.

TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders with USJC Leaders – Honolulu

On August 30, Emerging Leaders in Hawaii once again met, this time to have breakfast with USJC leaders visiting from the mainland: USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Executive Vice President and COO Suzanne Basalla, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Gary Moriwaki. Two 2015 Emerging Leaders, Nicole Velasco and Sonya Kuki, also attended this breakfast at Bills Waikiki.

Thanks to 2013 Emerging Leader Aki Marceau for the photo!


Videos from the 2015 TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange program


Here are two videos that document the journey of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange program, which just concluded last month. Please click on the images to watch them!

This is a video of their 5-week journey this summer, shot and edited by one of the participants.

Final presentations: below is a video of the students speaking about their lessons learned from the 2015 program.


Member News

Lori Matsukawa to receive Foreign Minister’s Commendation

On August 18, Council Member Lori Matsukawa was named a recipient of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation. The anchor of KING-TV in Seattle helped establish the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington in 2003, and participated in the 2004 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program. The Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle announced her award with high praise, noting that her “congeniality and persistence in both her professional and personal pursuits have forged close friendships and new connections on both sides of the Pacific.”

She joins the ranks of New York-based USJC members Gary Moriwaki and Susan Onuma, who received the commendation last year. For more information, please see the announcement by the Seattle Consulate.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing through September 6 – “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images” Exhibit (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: Ongoing through September 6, during regular museum hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Friday – Sunday 11am to 5pm; Thursdays 12pm – 8pm)
  • Venue: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Council Member Dr. Susumu Ito served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit of Japanese American soldiers, in World War II. During his tour, he took photos of the daily lives of the soldiers and U.S. military history in the making. These photos are currently shown at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in an exhibit called “Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s World War II Images.

This is the inaugural exhibition in a new series drawn from JANM’s permanent collection. A celebration of the donation by Dr. Ito of his vast archive of photographs and negatives, this exhibit gives the public a rare look at the daily lives of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. To learn more, please view the exhibition’s webpage or this interview of Dr. Ito recently published in the Los Angeles Times.

Click on the image above to read the LA Times’ interview of Dr. Ito

September 15 – USJI Event: World War II and the Experience of Japanese Americans (Washington, DC)

  • Date & Time: September 15, 2015 at 6pm – 7:30pm
  • Venue: Conference Room A, 2000 M Street, NW Lower Level, Conference Center Washington, D.C. 20036

From September 9 through 15, the U.S.-Japan Research Institute is hosting USJI Week, which will feature many lectures and events. On September 15, World War II veteran Terry Shima, Camp Topaz internee Mary Murakami, and USJC Member Priscilla Ouchida will speak at a lecture titled: “World War II and the Experience of Japanese Americans” (moderated by Yoshiaki Abe, Operating Advisor at USJI). The lecture will discuss the experience of Japanese Americans during the war, especially those who faced prejudice during internment and who served with the Armed Forces. While telling the story of Japanese Americans in the United States, the seminar also follows how Japanese Americans have become leaders of business and government and how the next generation can continue this impact.

For more information on this seminar, or to register for it, please visit the event page.

September 19 & 20 – ICU President visits Los Angeles

  • Date & Time: September 19, 2015 at 5:30pm – 8:00pm; September 20, 2015 at 1:00pm – 3:00pm
  • Venue: (September 19) Japanese American National Museum; (September 20) Doubletree by Hilton in Little Tokyo

Courtesy of the Japan ICU Foundation:

Dr. Junko Hibiya, President of the International Christian University (ICU), will be in Los Angeles this month for a special program visit. She will give a dinner speech at the JANM (with a special Taiko drumming performance) on September 19 and then host an ICU Information session at the Doubletree By Hilton in Little Tokyo on September 20.

For more information, please click here. Please RSVP to: [email protected].

September 26 & 27 – Japan Fair 2015 (Los Angeles)

  • Date & Time: September 26 (10am – 8pm) and 27 (10am – 5pm), 2015
  • Venue: 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Come attend the Japan Fair in Los Angeles! Held on September 26 and 27, this event will host a variety of entertainment, food and activities. The entertainment schedule includes everything from J-Pop to ukulele performances and kimono fashion shows. Food will be provided by global and local vendors including traditional Japanese festival food and drinks, like okonomiyaki, ramen and sake. The Fair will also include a film festival with five different movies.

USJC is proud to support this celebration of Japanese culture. To learn more about the festival, please visit its website. To purchase tickets to the festival or the movies, please visit this page.

September 28 – AALD Symposium (Kyoto, Japan)

  • Date & Time: September 28, 2015 at 4pm – 5:30pm
  • Venue: Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan)

As part of the Asian American Leadership Delegation program—funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and implemented by the U.S.-Japan Council—six Asian American state legislators, who will be visiting Japan then, will speak at a panel discussion at Ritsumeikan University. They will discuss their varied political journeys from the perspective of leadership diversification.

To learn more and to register, click here.


October 1 – Northern California Culinary Diplomacy Event (San Francisco)

  • Date & Time: October 1, 2015 at 6:30pm – 9:30pm
  • Venue: Private Residence in Pacific Heights

Please join USJC Members from Northern California for a Culinary Diplomacy Event showcasing the culinary flavors of Tohoku. Proceeds from the event will benefit the continuing recovery efforts in Japan.

The event will also feature a raffle of Kenzo wines and top sake from the Tohoku area. Proceeds from the raffle will be used to benefit organizations involved in the rebuilding of Tohoku. USJC appreciates the Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco for their strong support, as well as sponsors of this event!

To learn more and to register, click here. Please RSVP by September 15.


Development Coordinator (Washington, DC)

USJC is currently seeking a Development Coordinator, who will have primary responsibility for administrative and operational support to USJC development activities. This position is in the Washington, DC headquarters’ office, and provides direct support to the President and Senior Vice President for Development. This individual will also support staff directors of USJC initiatives in Tokyo and Silicon Valley, as well as the Board of Directors Development Committee. The Development Coordinator will interface with donors and related stakeholders. This individual reports to the Senior Vice President for Development.

A full listing of qualifications and responsibilities is available on the USJC website. (Click here to see the PDF version of this job description.) Review of applications will begin September 11, 2015. Preferred start date is October 1, 2015.