The 10 delegates from the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation, including JACL National Director David Inoue, returned to the U.S. on March 10 following a full week of meetings, discussions and networking opportunities with Japanese leaders.
With the aim to strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations, the program builds people-to-people relationships with Japanese leaders from various sectors.
The group first visited Tokyo, where they met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who emphasized that this was the 150th anniversary since Japanese Americans first arrived in Hawaii.
The delegates also met with many other leaders in Tokyo, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono; Yoshimasa Hayashi of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; and U.S. Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty.
In Yamaguchi Prefecture, the delegates participated in a symposium titled “The Japanese American Experience: Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the First Emigration From Japan to Hawaii,” co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, USJC and the Yamaguchi International Exchange Assn.
More than 120 individuals attended the symposium, which discussed the journey of Japanese Americans, the role of Japanese Americans in contemporary America and how to promote diversity and inclusion in both Japan and the U.S. The group also toured the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii, as well as Hagiyaki Pottery and other sites.
“Although it was obviously quite an experience to meet with Prime Minister Abe and other Japanese political and business leadership, what was most interesting about the week was the discussions we had about our respective experiences as Japanese Americans,” said Inoue. “Having these conversations within the setting of being in Japan added a different dimension, as we all had varying relationships with our background being of Japanese descent.”
This year’s delegates included Sheri Bryant, Darcy Endo-Omoto, Monica Okada Guzman, Inoue, Denise Moriguchi, David Ono, Lisa Sakai, June Taylor, Chris Uehara and Laurie Van Pelt. To date, 197 have participated in the program since its inception in 2000.