Sasakawa USA Newsletter January 29, 2021
Included in this issue of the newsletter:

  • Message from Sasakawa USA's Chairman, Satohiro Akimoto

January Activities
  • Policy Briefing: Charting a Shared Course: U.S.-Japan Security in 2021 and Beyond Featuring RADM James Kelly, USN (Ret.) and Dr. Takako Hikotani
  • The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP): JUMP Seattle, Washington
  • USJETAA Mini-Grant Program: Mentorship Program Closing Ceremony
  • USJETAA Mini-Grant Program: J-Talks: Finding Japan in the Midwest 
  • Washington Discussion Group: A Discussion with Mr. Hiroshi Matano of MIGA
  • Interview: Dr. Akimoto on “Sunday News Biz Square,” BS-TBS

Publications
  • Japan Political Pulse: Prime Minister Suga, Muddling Through (Akimoto)

Upcoming Activities
  • Policy Briefing: Remembering Dr. Ezra F. Vogel with Dr. Stephen K. Vogel, Mr. Glen S. Fukushima, and Dr. Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  • Congressional Study Group on Japan: First 100 Days of the 117th Congress
  • Congressional Program on U.S.-Japan and the Indo-Pacific: New Program Commences in Partnership with the East-West Center of Washington
  • The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP): JUMP Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Diego, California
  • Webinar: Dr. Akimoto to Speak at Hawaii Aloha Life Enrichment Association 
Message from Sasakawa USA's Chairman, Satohiro Akimoto
U.S.-Japan relations lost two giants, Dr. Ezra F. Vogel and Mr. Minoru “Ben” Makihara, last month.

Dr. Vogel was often described as one of the world's leading experts on East Asia. In my view, he was the foremost expert in the world on East Asia bar none because he was one of the most respected scholars on both Japan and China, the two major countries in the region. There are many scholars, who are on par with Dr. Vogel on one of these nations, but there was nobody, who was on a par with Dr. Vogel on both Japan and China in East Asia. His understanding of both countries was extremely deep and nuanced due to his multi-layered academic and practical approaches, combined with his rare mastery of two difficult languages. There is so much to learn from his last book “China and Japan: Facing History” (2019) on how the two nations learned from each other over the centuries and how important it will be for the two nations (and the U.S.) to make efforts to seek a constructive relationship in an increasingly complex and competitive geopolitical environment in the region.

Mr. Makihara was widely known as one of the most astute international business leaders in post-war Japan. He was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, a boarding school in New Hampshire, and then at Harvard University. He went on to work for Mitsubishi Corporation and became president and chairman, leading one of the world’s most respected companies during the difficult post bubble period in Japan. Mr. Makihara dedicated his life to improve and strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Japan with peace and prosperity of East Asia in mind. He personally knew the pain of military conflicts as his father, a Mitsubishi executive, was killed by the U.S. Navy when the ship he was traveling on from Manila, Philippines to Tokyo, the Taiyo Maru, was sunk by a submarine torpedo attack. A framed black and white photo of the ship was always hung at his office at Mitsubishi headquarters. He established the company`s Washington office in 1971 forging close friendships with central figures in Washington, such as Mrs. Katherine Graham. Mr. Makihara played a major role as chairman of the U.S.-Japan Business Council and chairman of the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange among many other positions focusing on U.S.-Japan relations over the years.

Dr. Vogel and Mr. Makihara, together with Dr. Henry Rosovsky, Dr. Susan Pharr and Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda, and some others, played a central role in establishing Harvard’s Asia Center. Dr. Vogel and Mr. Makihara shared the importance of creating a platform to connect the U.S. and Asia, reflecting tremendous security, political, economic, and social transformation of the region. Both Dr. Vogel and Mr. Makihara were interested in fostering lively exchanges of ideas among researchers, policy makers, and practioners in the U.S. and Asia. They also thought it was crucially important to provide opportunities to young people in the U.S. and Asia to grow and become leaders of the future.

Following in the footsteps of these two giants, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA also hopes to contribute to strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship. With everyone at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of Dr. Vogel and Mr. Makihara. May their legacies live on for generations to come.

Dr. Akimoto published a tribute to Dr. Vogel in the Japan Times shortly after his passing on December 20, 2020.
January Activities
Policy Briefing: Charting a Shared Course: U.S.-Japan Security in 2021 and Beyond Featuring RADM James Kelly, USN (Ret.) and Dr. Takako Hikotani
On January 26, Sasakawa USA was pleased to host an online event on the U.S.-Japan alliance with RADM James Kelly, USN (Ret.), Former Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, and Dr. Takako Hikotani, the Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy at Columbia University. Drawing on his many years of service in Japan, RADM Kelly reviewed the evolution of U.S.-Japan cooperation in defense and addressed areas of potential growth. His talk focused on the importance of personal relationships in building a stronger alliance as well as the need for continued dialogue amongst all stakeholders. Dr. Hikotani as the discussant added her own perspective on the trajectory of the U.S.-Japan alliance. A recap of the event, as well as a recording of the discussion, will be available on Sasakawa USA’s website in the coming weeks.

Photo: RADM Kelly, USN (Ret.), and Dr. Hikotani
The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP): JUMP Seattle, Washington
On January 23, JUMP was pleased to host a special online event titled “Beyond Reconciliation: Celebrate Japan-U.S. Alliance and Honor Nisei Veterans,” in partnership with the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, the National Association of Japan-America Societies, the Embassy of Japan in the United States, and the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC). In addition to a special performance by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force 1st Infantry Regiment Bugle Team, the event featured many speakers from the United States and Japan. Guests included the Honorable Hisao Inagaki, Consul General of Japan in Seattle, Major General Hiroyuki Sugai, Defense Attaché at the Embassy of Japan, Major General Xavier T. Brunson, Commanding General of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division, and Rear Admiral Stephen D. Barnett, Commander of Navy Region Northwest. Their presentations centered on the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the long legacy of military service in the Nisei community. Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, Director of JUMP, Chairman and President of Sasakawa USA, also delivered a message on the missions of JUMP and Sasakawa USA’s continuing objective to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations. The event video is available here.

Photo: Panel discussion by MG Sugai, left, MG Brunson, center, and RADM Barnett, right, moderated by Lt. Col. Yaguchi, USAF (Ret.), Vice Commander of NVC, top left.
USJETAA Mini-Grant Program: Mentorship Program Closing Ceremony
On January 16, JET Alumni Association DC (JETAADC) held a virtual closing ceremony for their inaugural 6-month mentorship program that they launched in the summer of 2020. This program was sponsored by Sasakawa USA through a mini-grant partnership with USJETAA. The mentorship program paired six recently returned JET alums who are interested in U.S.-Japan related careers with six mentors in the Washington, DC area. In this closing ceremony, each mentee-mentor pair presented on their time together and what they gained from their partnership. For the mentees, gaining clarity on what they want to pursue, an understanding of the resources available to them, and a broader network in their specific area of interest in the U.S.-Japan arena were highlights of the experience. Due to the success of this program, many other JET alumni associations have shown interest in adopting this program into their local communities. 
USJETAA Mini-Grant Program: J-Talks: Finding Japan in the Midwest
On January 28, JET Alumni Association of Chicago held a virtual event “J-Talks: Finding Japan in the Midwest,” which was sponsored by Sasakawa USA through a mini-grant partnership with USJETAA. In their webinar series “Strengthening Ties Through Dialogue,” this first session explored the hidden roots of Chicago's Japanese communities and discussed the role the Midwest plays in bridging US-Japan relations. The panel consisted of Mr. Erik Matsunaga, a writer and researcher who provided a virtual tour of Chicago’s historic Japantown; Mr. Dustin Henrich, President of the Heartland JET Alumni Association, who spoke on sister city relations in the Midwest; and Ms. Jo Oyama-Miller, Board President of Madison-Obihiro Sister Cities, Inc who shared a touching look at the deep ties between the two cities and the transformative impact it has had on both communities.
Washington Discussion Group: A Discussion with Mr. Hiroshi Matano of MIGA
On January 13, Sasakawa USA welcomed Mr. Hiroshi Matano, Executive Vice President at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, for a discussion on the current state of MIGA. During this off-the-record virtual roundtable facilitated in Japanese by Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, Chairman and President of Sasakawa USA, Mr. Matano discussed MIGA’s main activities from 2020 and what MIGA will focus on in 2021. The discussion included distinguished Japanese guests from various sectors including the diplomatic corps, think tanks, private sector, as well as media. The participants had a constructive and lively discussion on current issues facing MIGA. Sasakawa USA hopes to organize more Washington Discussion Group events in 2021 that highlight important Japanese voices on how to promote international cooperation and strengthen ties between the United States and Japan. 

Photo: Mr. Matano
Interview: Dr. Akimoto on “Sunday News Biz Square,” BS-TBS
On January 24, Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, Chairman and President of Sasakawa USA, was interviewed live by BS-TBS on the Japanese TV program, “Sunday News Biz Square,” where he spoke about the Biden administration. The interview was hosted by Mr. Takushi Harima, the former Tokyo Broadcasting System’s (TBS) Washington Bureau Chief. In their conversation, Dr. Akimoto and Mr. Harima discussed the Inaugural Address by President Biden, the highlights of his first 100 days, and the nominees for his administration. Lastly, Dr. Akimoto shared his insights on the Japanese government’s approach to the Biden administration from the perspective of enhancing international cooperation.
Photo: Mr. Harima and Dr. Akimoto
Publications
Japan Political Pulse: Prime Minister Suga, Muddling Through (Akimoto)
In his new article, “Prime Minister Suga, Muddling Through,” Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, Chairman and President of Sasakawa USA, gives his assessment of the current state of Prime Minister Suga’s leadership. Mr. Suga began his tenure with overwhelming support from Japanese citizens, but the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting economic consequences has led to sharply falling poll numbers. While some Japanese media outlets are suggesting this is the beginning of the end of the relatively young administration, Dr. Akimoto argues that how Mr. Suga and his cabinet navigate the coming months will be a deciding factor. With successful management of the COVID-19 crisis, the decrease in public support for the Prime Minister could very well be reversed. Furthermore, the success or failure of such efforts will inform the Prime Minister’s critical decision on when to hold the next general election.

Photo: Prime Minister Suga at the 53rd meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters on January 22, 2021. (Official Website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet)
Upcoming Activities
Policy Briefing: Remembering Dr. Ezra F. Vogel with Dr. Stephen K. Vogel, Mr. Glen S. Fukushima, and Dr. Joseph S. Nye Jr.
Sasakawa USA is pleased to host a virtual event on February 2 remembering the late Dr. Ezra F. Vogel with Dr. Steven K. Vogel, Chair of Political Economy Program, University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Glen S. Fukushima, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University. Throughout his sixty-year career of scholarship and teaching, Dr. Ezra F. Vogel demonstrated a unique commitment to building understanding between East Asia and the United States. He leaves behind not only a rich catalog of landmark works on China and Japan, but also a legacy of inspiring his colleagues, students, and friends. To pay tribute to Dr. Vogel, our speakers will share their personal experiences with the late professor.
Photo: Dr. Vogel, Mr. Fukushima, and Dr. Nye
Congressional Study Group on Japan: First 100 Days of the 117th Congress
On February 17, Sasakawa USA, in partnership with the Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC), will co-host an event on the policy priorities of the new Congress, with a particular look at how the events of January 6 will impact Congress. Speakers for this event will include distinguished former members of Congress. A recap of the event and a recording of the discussion will be available on Sasakawa USA’s website following the event.
Congressional Program on U.S.-Japan and the Indo-Pacific: New Program Commences in Partnership with the East-West Center of Washington
The Congressional Program on U.S.-Japan Relations and the Indo-Pacific (CPUSJ) is set to begin February 25 following Congress’ week-long recess. The program consists of a series of seven, 75-minute interactive discussions, held weekly online. Certificates of completion are awarded to participants who attend at least four of the seven planned sessions. Speakers will come from government agencies, think tanks, universities, and other policy institutions. Session topics are set to include: The U.S.-Japan Alliance as the Cornerstone of Indo-Pacific Peace, Security, and Stability; U.S.-Japan Technological Partnership and Competition; Economic Challenges Post-COVID-19; U.S.-Japan Frontier Defense and Technology Cooperation; Public Health Security; Engagement of International Organizations; as well as U.S. and Japanese Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Aid. Please visit the Sasakawa USA website for more details.
The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP): JUMP Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Diego, California
JUMP will be hosting virtual events in Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Diego, California, in the coming weeks. JUMP Honolulu is scheduled for February 13, and JUMP San Diego will be held in March 11. Please check the JUMP website’s event page for updates on future events. JUMP connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan through social networks and grassroots events. JUMP is the only national program to do so, providing a powerful foundation for sustaining the alliance between the United States and Japan.
Webinar: Dr. Akimoto to Speak at Hawaii Aloha Life Enrichment Association
Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, Chairman and President of Sasakawa USA, will give a talk about the Biden Administration at Hawaii Aloha Life Enrichment Association, a State of Hawaii 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization based in Honolulu, Hawaii. He will discuss the Biden Administration’s Asia policy from the perspective of the U.S.-Japan relationship.


Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA
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