The Japanese American Storytelling Program


JASP is a group of USJC members including Nikkei Sansei, Yonsei and Gosei (multi-generational Japanese Americans), “Shin Issei,” “Shin Nisei” (Japanese American generations emigrated after WWII), and Bi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic Nikkei. They are native English, native Japanese or proficient bi-lingual speakers residing in Japan, Hawaii, California, and other parts of the U.S. Mainland. JASP delivers presentations to students at universities throughout Japan in English and Japanese, based upon Host Professor requests. 

JASP presentations utilize the art of storytelling woven with many opportunities for students to engage in discussions throughout each presentation. The stories are personal histories, making each one of them unique. JASP seeks to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United States by connecting the past with the present to create a better future. JASP believes it is crucial to nurture university students in Japan towards a global perspective through inspiring personal stories.

Our Purpose and Mission

JASP Purpose: To collaborate with educators at universities in Japan to nurture students towards an inclusive global mindset.  

JASP Mission: To share inspiring “Japanese American” personal and family experiences with university students in Japan through real-time storytelling and active discussions.

Our Story

JASP was inspired by the initial vision of Takashi Ohde, then Instructor at Gakushuin Women’s College in Tokyo, to educate his students on the Japanese American experience and the very positive response of Mr. Ohde’s students to the stories of family history and professional journey told by USJC member and Japanese American Stan Koyanagi

It was realized that many young Japanese nationals are not exposing themselves to personally experiencing the world or nurturing a global mindset, and this could have a negative impact on Japan’s future. 

To foster a global perspective and stronger relationship, JASP launched a pilot storytelling program in the Autumn of 2020. During the 2022 academic year, JASP was privileged to give 60 storytelling presentations to students in various regions of Japan. It aims to expand the program to include even more presentations to students in other parts of Japan.

JA Storytelling Themes

Reflecting the diversity of our JASP Speakers, our storytelling presentation themes include:

  • Developing an Innovative Mindset for Career Success in Japan
  • Being Japanese in the 21st Century
  • Challenges of Taking the “Road Less Traveled”
  • Harnessing the Power of Us
  • Your Drumbeat: What’s Your Beat?
  • Redefining the Meaning of Being “Japanese” in the 21st Century
  • Tolerance, Empathy and Appreciating Differences
  • The Japanese Diaspora and Migration
  • Resilience (Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8)
  • Building Bridges between the U.S. and Japan
  • Expanding Your Horizons and Comfort Zones
  • Entrepreneurship and Pursuing Passions
  • Discovery of One’s Cultural Identity
  • Women’s Empowerment
  • The Hawai’i Japanese American Experience
  • Our Heritage Gives Us Roots and Wings
  • My Journey of Not Belonging and Self-Acceptance
  • The Movie of Your Life
  • Coming Out
  • Wartime Experiences of JA’s
  • The Advantages of DE&I in Business

As our program continues to grow, JASP plans to add new presentation titles to our list of storytelling themes.

Featured Presenters

Reflecting the diversity of our presentation themes, JASP Speakers range from next generation young leaders to senior executives, and Nikkei Sansei and Yonsei, Shin Issei, Shin Nisei, Bi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic Nikkei, from both the private and non-profit sectors, based in Tokyo, Okinawa, Hawai’i, and the Mainland U.S. 

These are some of our featured speakers. 

Nate Gyotoku (Honolulu, Hawaii) – Just Another Plantation Kid (in English)

Kelly Nuibe (Tokyo, Japan) – From a Rock: Stepping Beyond the Comfort Zone of Hawaii (in English)

George Miller (Tokyo, Japan) – Appreciating the Differences (in English)

Kaoru Utada (Tokyo, Japan) – Cross-cultural Communication through the Lens of a Nikkei Shin-Nisei (in English)

Russell Saito (Tokyo, Japan) – Developing an Innovative Mindset for Career Success in Japan (in English)

Kumiko Hidaka (Tokyo, Japan) – Japanese Identity in the 21st Century (in English)

Mao Tolliver (Michigan, USA) – Searching for Cultural Identity (in English)

Steve Sakanashi (Tokyo) – The Heart of a Foreigner: 99 Years away from Home (in English)

Camryn Sugita (California) – Find Yourself, Find Your Purpose (in English)

Allan Watanabe (Tokyo) – The Advantages of Diversity & Inclusion in Business (in English)

Anna Nagamine (Okinawa) – To Future Leaders: My Journey of Not Belonging and Self-Acceptance (in English)

Ted Katagi (Tokyo) – Five Generations of Issei (in English)

Roy Tomizawa (Tokyo) – Honored by the Emperor, Hired by the US Navy: How a Japanese Issei Navigated the Turbulent Waves of Early 20th Century America (in English)

Yumi Clark (Mainland US) – Courageous Journeys, Resilience, and the Joys of Life (in Japanese)

Yuhka Mera (Tokyo) – Diversity & Inclusion and Omotenashi for All (in English)

Lynn Lethin (Hawai’i) – My Shifting Identities (in English)

Jim Minamoto (Tokyo) – Resilience: 七転びハ起き (in English)

Lynn Miyahira (Hawai’i) – Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange at Home and Abroad (in English)

University List

JASP is privileged to have been given the opportunity to deliver JA Storytelling presentations to students at schools throughout Japan:

Akita International University

Aoyama Gakuin University

Asia University

Chuo University

Doshisha University

Gakushuin Women’s College

Gunma University

Hiroshima Jogakuin High School

Hiroshima Jogakuin University

Hitotsubashi University

International Christian University

Japan Women’s University

Juntendo University

Kansai Gaidai University

Kansai University of International Studies

Keiai University

Keio University

Kobe Women’s University

Kobe University

Kumamoto University

Kyoto University

Meiji University

Musashino University

Musashino Art University

Musashi University

Nihon University, College of Humanities and Sciences

Osaka Prefectural University

Rikkyo University

Ritsumeikan University

Seijo University

Shizuoka University

Showa Women’s University

Sophia University

Temple University Japan Campus

Tohoku University

Tokyo Gakugei University

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Toyo Gakuen University

Toyo University

Tsuda University

Tsukuba University

University of the Ryukyus

University of Tokyo

Waseda University

JASP speakers meet live and in real time with Japanese university students attending a wide variety of classes, including:

  • Intercultural Communication
  • Gender and Human Rights
  • Conflict Resolution and Creative Discussion
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Global Studies in English
  • Multicultural Social Work
  • International Immigration and the Japanese Diaspora
  • US-Japan Diplomatic Relations
  • History of Japanese Immigration
  • American Cultural History
  • Contemporary American Politics and Society
  • Minorities and the Law in the US
  • Special Events (open school-wide)

Class sizes range from small seminars with 10 students to large lecture audiences with more than 100 students.


JASP seeks to nurture students towards an inclusive global mindset and also provides Japanese Americans with an opportunity to reflect on their personal and ancestral histories and identities.  

Here are several voices from our program’s participants.

Host Professors

JASP Storytelling Coach

JASP Speakers

Program Co-Leader/JASP Speaker

Student Voices


(February 2023) 2022 Year in Review

(October 2022) JASP featured at the USJC Annual Conference

(August 2022) USJC x JACL: “The Power of Words” Event

(August 2022) JASP Successfully Completes 31 Presentations in Spring 2022 Semester

(July 2022) TOMODACHI MUFG International Exchange Program 2022 (Online)

(June 2022) Seizing Opportunity During the COVID-19 Crisis—The Power of Cross-Cultural Storytelling

(Feb 2022) JASP Successfully Completes 50 Presentations in 2021 – its First Full Year Since Launch

(Feb 2022) Hiroshima Jogakuin University Article – Learning about Japanese Americans and Immigration

(Dec 2021) Television News Coverage of JASP Speaker Steve Sugino’s Presentation

(Jan 2021) USJC: JASP Launches Inaugural Storytelling Presentations

Program Co-Leader & JASP Speaker Steve Sugino giving a presentation about JASP at the 2022 USJC Annual Conference

Program FAQs

The Japanese American Storytelling Program (JASP) is a non-profit, educational program of the U.S.-Japan Council.

JASP seeks to convey positive messages to university students in Japan – the future leaders of the country – through the art of storytelling.  Importantly, JASP presentations are not general lectures on Japanese American history.  Rather, the personal nature of the stories and the unique journey traveled by the speaker and ancestors is a key feature of the program.  That is what makes JASP’s presentations heartfelt, memorable and, hopefully, impactful. 

Q-1:  More Specifically, What Are Some Examples of JASP Presentation Topics/Themes?

Q-2:  Who are the JASP Speakers?

Q-3:  What Student Language/Academic Level is Needed for JASP Presentations?

Q-4: When are JASP Presentations Given?

Q-5:  How are JASP Presentations Given – Live or by Pre-Recorded Videos?

Q-6:  Where are JASP Live Presentations Given?  Anywhere in Japan?

Q-7:  When Will I Know if JASP Can Provide a Speaker for My Class?

Q-8: Are JASP’s Live Presentations Video Recorded?  What About Student Privacy?

Q-9:  Is There A Speaking Fee or Charge for JASP Presentations?

Q-10:  Is JASP Open to the Public?


For Professors at Japan-Based Universities

JASP warmly welcomes requests from professors at Japan-based universities to join our program and host a JASP speaker in their class.  Please provide some basic background details about you and your class here.

We will contact you after receiving your background details.  We try our best to accommodate as many requests as possible from professors at Japan-based universities, subject to demand for and availability of our speakers. 

For USJC Members

If you are a USJC member with a Japanese American story to tell, please consider joining us as a JASP Speaker (or “JASPer”) and tell us more about yourself here!

JASPers include not only “traditional” Sansei/Yonsei/Gosei, but also Shin Issei (post-war Japanese immigrants to the US), Shin Nisei (children of Shin Issei) and Bi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic Nikkei; in short USJC members with a personal Nikkei – JA story to tell.

We will contact you after receiving your background details. If you are not yet a USJC member, your membership application can be processed in parallel with your JASPer application. In addition to Japan-based and Hawaii-based USJC members, the program is open to Mainland US members. Presentations are all given live, during Japan Standard Time hours (e.g., 9am to 6pm JST), currently via Zoom or other similar online platform.  

For details on the USJC Privacy Policy, please see here.

For Students Interested in an Internship (Remote)

The Japanese American Storytelling Program (JASP), a U.S.-Japan Council program, is seeking an Intern on a part-time basis.

The JASP Internship offers a distinctive opportunity for college students and graduate students who are especially interested in learning about the experiences of Japanese Americans (e.g., Nikkei, Sansei, Yonsei, etc.), Shin Issei (post-war Japanese immigrants to the U.S., including “kikoku shijo”), Shin Nisei (children of Shin Issei born in the U.S.) and multi-racial Nikkei (“Hapa” Nikkei), including those living in Japan and in the United States. Learn more about the internship here.

Thank you for your interest in JASP!

This webpage of the Japanese American Storytelling Program was made possible by generous support from the Japan Foundation.