The 2014-15 TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program

Participants of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars are college students. Universities were paired with a partner university to facilitate the exchanges. The American students traveled to Japan in the summer of 2014. The U.S. faculty leads are Japanese American and members of the U.S.-Japan Council. Nearly all of them knew the Senator and/or his work personally. Although they represent different academic disciplines, the U.S. faculty designed academic courses that one centered on a specific dimension of the Senator’s legacy: Leadership, public service, advocacy, etc.

U.S. Faculty

Dr. Curtiss Rooks

Loyola Marymount

Dr. Kathryn Ibata-Arens

DePaul University

Dr. Paul Watanabe

University of
Massachusetts, Boston

Dr. Dennis Ogawa

University of Hawaii
at Manoa

The pairs of participating universities are:

Depaul University, (Chicago, IL)
Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto)
Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA)
Sophia University (Tokyo)
University of Massachusetts Boston (Boston, MA)
Showa Women’s University (Tokyo)
University of Hawaii, Manoa (Honolulu, HI) Matsuyama University (Ehime)

In March 2015, the Japanese students will travel to Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C. and the city of their partner university. Japanese students will also have the opportunity to learn about Senator Inouye’s contribution to politics and the Japanese American community while exploring American culture and historic sites.

You may download the press release here.

Programs Implemented by Each School

DePaul University students gained an understanding of Asian studies, the Asian diaspora, and Asian American studies through the exchange program with Ritsumeikan University.

Inspired by the Senator’s commitment to leadership and diversity, Dr. Rooks sought to honor his legacy through the development of LMU student leaders from underrepresented populations in their University community.

Approaching the TOMODACHI program as a student exchange program, UMASS Boston students developed an understanding and appreciation of Japan and the Japanese through direct people-to-people exchanges. And, they drew upon their resources related to policy and government to focus on the Senator’s years of leadership in government.

Representing Senator Inouye’s hometown, the University of Hawaii students emphasized the Senator’s community leadership in Hawaii and as a Japanese-American.

Please find here a copy of the letter of appreciation from USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye to supporters and the Impact Report for the 2014 Summer TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars programs.

Participant Voices

“While I did indeed get a chance to sightsee and visit countless temples, shrines, and monuments, these werenʼt necessarily the only trips that stood out to me. Upon my return from Japan, I contemplated what exactly I missed the most ‒ and, true to the programʼs name, it was the bridges I built with my newfound friends. ‘KAKEHASHI’ and ‘TOMODACHI’ translate into ‘bridge’ and ‘friend,’ respectively. Upon my acceptance, I was both nervous and anxious at how I would be able to truly experience what Japan has to offer without having any knowledge of the language.”

– Alexandra Chomik from DePaul University

“This trip has sparked more interest in potential careers where I could have interactions with Japan, or even have an opportunity to work in Japan at some point.”

– Anders Conroy from DePaul University

“When the African Americans came back from the war, they sought out equality, just like Senator Inouye when he returned from serving in the military . . . It never really registered in my mind how limited our views and perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement were. I feel like this class posed more questions that were thought-provoking as opposed to my regular classes that just present us with information to memorize.”

– A Student from LMU

“As TOMODACHI Inouye scholars we are all striving to learn more about ourselves and the world. Textbooks can’t even begin to touch upon the lessons we’ve acquired on this trip. In just 10 days we have all grown, expanded, broadened our hearts and minds; I am changed. […] From the history that we have with Ehime and seeing first hand how great achievements can come from the ashes of tragedy, Sen. Daniel Inouye set an amazing example of how there is no substitute to heart-to-heart communication.”

– UH Manoa Scholar, Kelly Iwasaki

Click here to read “American,” a poem written by LMU student Priscilla Torres upon visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Program Administrators and Implementers

This program is administered by the Japan Foundation. The U.S.-Japan Council supports the implementation of this program, through coordination with the Japan Foundation and the Laurasian Institution.

The educational content about Senator Inouye’s legacy that the U.S. faculty developed for these exchanges is made possible by a generous grant from the Daniel K. Inouye Institute Fund of the Hawai’i Community Foundation. USJC would like to thank the Institute for their support that allowed us to honor the legacy of the Senator. 

For more information about the TOMODACHI Initiative, please visit the TOMODACHI website.