On February 3, the 2018 Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored “Japanese American Leadership Delegation to Japan” (JALD) Program met for a celebratory dinner party in Little Tokyo’s Miyako Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. On that day, 10 leaders chosen from Japanese American community, members of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, US-Japan Council, and JBA all attended.

10 Leaders who visited Japan to bridge US-Japan relations

The Japanese American Leadership Delegation Program, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now in its 18th year, began in the year 2000 with the aim of strengthening the relationship between Japanese and Japanese Americans through mutual understanding. Every year, 10 to 15 Japanese American leaders are selected from the United States and invited to Japan. This year, 10 were chosen to visit Japan from early to mid-March. During their visit to Japan, the delegation will meet with senior government officials and politicians such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as those in the business field, exchange opinions in a wide variety of fields, and are scheduled to attend Japan-US related symposiums.

Prior to their departure, orientation was held in Los Angeles for two days on February 2nd and 3rd, concluded by a celebratory dinner sponsored by the JBA Business and Commerce Committee.

JBA Vice President and Chair of the Business and Commerce Committee Mr. Naoshi Matsushita heard about the importance of JALD and said, “By having Japanese Americans who are active in each of their communities visit Japan, I hope they are able to know Japan on a deeper level, as well as learn more about their own roots and grow to like Japan more, so that they can create appeal of the Japan they discover in various different places.”

For Japan and for the Japanese community in America

Dinner was progressed with humorous commentary by Yuko Kaifu, Executive Vice President of the JBA. Then, Hitoshi Ishikawa, President of JBA, gave the first remarks. After showing a video of JBA’s history and activities, he said encouragingly, “Please take a closer look at the current state of Japan through your visit on this program, and please tell us what you would do for us to revitalize Japan. We at JBA will heed your advice and reenergize Japan. Please have a wonderful journey and eat a lot of delicious foods!”

Next, Irene Hirano Inouye, President of the US-Japan Council approached the stage and expressed appreciation for JBA’s JALD and their long-term support of the USJC. Thereafter, the 10 participants were introduced and allowed to give self-introductions.

After that, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Chiba gave a toast. Consul General Chiba, who regularly visits historical Japanese American sites as well as the Japanese American National Museum frequently, introduced a panel on Japanese history in Sacramento’s California Museum.

While quoting the Japanese American testimonies from a third-party perspective that was even able to impart humor on the Internment during the Second World War, the unique stance that is shared by Japanese Americans were able to be felt. In addition, “Even for generations who do not share the experience of such hardships, the legacy of the Japanese Americans who have a bond like brothers and sisters from the moment they encounter each other is also breathed into JALD and will continue from now on,” stated Consul General Chiba. Finally, with the hope that the delegation will return from Japan with great expectations from their community, a superb toast was given.

During the dinner, al the participants in the dinner socialized and introduced one another to members in JBA and the USJC, as well as visiting leaders of Japan, and deepened their relationships with everyone. Voices from the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation

Voices from the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation
David Ono

As a journalist, I’ve been to Japan many times, and even have relatives living there. However, I heard through the JALD program participants are able to know “Japan” from another side, in other words, not from the outside perspective but from within. I also hope to experience this. I look forward to this opportunity to meet people who can make a difference to the world, and believe it will be a valuable experience for me as a journalist.

Denise Moriguchi

The supermarket that I am the CEO and Present of, Uwajimaya, has a strong relationship with Japan which is greatly reflected in our business. In order to understand my Japanese roots, culture, and business, and also to deepen connections, I applied to this program. I am looking forward to seeing people in diverse fields such as politics and economics. I think that visiting Japan through this program will be a totally different experience to what I’ve had so far.