The Center For Professional Exchange

On October 17 CEPEX co-hosted a casual dinner and conversation at Tono Sushi restaurant with Keizai Doyukai Americas-Japan Committee co-chairs, Mr. Shigeru Yamazoe and Mr. Yukio Tada, and DC-area JET Program alumni. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and many of the over 32,000 American alumni have an affinity for Japan long after they return home. Through continued engagement with visiting scholars, government officials and corporate executives, these unofficial Japan Hands have the ability to foster friendship and understanding, and strengthen U.S.-Japan relationship.   Yamazoe and Shanti

Mr. Yamazoe, Senior Executive Vice President of Marubeni Corporation, exchanged business cards with JET alumna (Kagawa-ken) and KAC co-founder Shanti Shoji. Kizuna Across Cultures (KAC) is a nonprofit that builds friendship and cross-cultural understanding through connected classrooms in the U.S. and Japan. Since 2012 KAC has connected over 6,500 high school students who are studying Japanese in the U.S. and English in Japan through an educational online platform.

Mac Andrew Vishal Mie alums

(Left) JET alumni Vishal and Nick both lived in Mie-ken, and shared stories about their favorite places . (Right) former JETAADC president Maurice talks to JET alumni.


Following dinner, everyone introduced themselves. This was the first time for co-chair Mr. Yamazoe to meet with the JET alumni in DC. As a senior executive in one of the largest trading and investment corporations, he shared how his company has invested in businesses around the world, including 50 companies in the United States. Japanese companies are increasingly global. Of Marubeni’s 40,000 employees, only around 4,000 are Japanese, with the rest non-Japanese employees working in locations around the world.

Tada Tono SushiMr. Tada, Senior Adviser to Sojitz Research Institute, has engaged with JET alumni in DC since he was a visiting fellow at Brookings Institute in 1989. As a visiting professor at Hokkaido University, last week he conducted a special lesson on politics. He asked the 18-20 year old students to create a political party and decide what the main tenets would be. The most popular party the students created was called the “Love and Passion” Party. Mr. Tada was pleasantly surprised to discover how forward-looking and optimistic the students are. The stock market hit a 20-year high and these students have a very favorable job market in Japan. They are concerned about global issues including foreign defense due to North Korea. They also do not believe mass media, instead seeking out their own information. While high school students, he called them B/I “Before Internet”, and now in university they are A/I “After Internet”, able to discover news and information on their smart phones. Mr. Tada’s message to the JET alumni was that we can count on the younger generation in Japan, which has a positive view of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Looking ahead to the October 22 elections in Japan, Tokyo Governor Koike had generated a lot of buzz about her Party of Hope. When it comes to defense and security issues, Ms. Koike’s party has a similar position to the LDP. Recent news indicate the LDP’s ruling coalition is set to win over 300 seats. There is a favorable outlook to mention Japan’s Self Defense Force in the Constitution, which combined with the Secret Protection Act, means Japan might not need to change Article 9.

While the Japanese younger generation holds a positive view of the U.S., the current president of the JETAADC alumni group asked Mr. Tada if the opinion of his students had changed about the United States under President Trump. Tono Sushi JET alumni

Keizai Doyukai-JET alumni

U.S. Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA), the 501c3 nonprofit in the United States, organized and hosted the JET30 Reunion, an all-alumni celebration of the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program in Washington, DC on August 4-6, 2017.


Celebrating 30 years of the JET Program, the reunion brought together alumni from all of the 22 chapters and subchapters located in the United States. JETAA Pittsburgh is a new subchapter of the JETAANY chapter.

where were you on JET


Attendees included JET Program alumni from every year (1987-2016), some Monbusho English Fellows (MEF) alumni, and had lived in 46 of the 47 prefectures in Japan.

ANA raffle

Two lucky participants in the USJETAA raffle won roundtrip tickets to Japan on ANA.

JETAADC group photo


DC area JET alumni gathered for a group photo following the Natsu Matsuri reception and dinner.

Please welcome the new CEPEX Director, Jacquelyn Craven.

Jacquelyn  graduated in 2015 from American University with a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in Japanese Language. During her time at American, she studied abroad in Tokyo, Japan at Waseda University for one year. While in Tokyo, Jacquelyn volunteered at the Japan Study Abroad Foundation to help prepare Japanese students hoping to study in America. Since graduation, Jacquelyn has interned at the Stimson Center under the Japan program, researching Japanese politics and the US-Japan alliance.  Jacquelyn also interned at the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies where she monitored developments in US policy towards the Korean Peninsula. Jacquelyn now works as the Administrative and Research Assistant at the Sojitz Corporation of America’s Washington, DC office.

 Jacquelyn in Nara

For the 8th year in a row, CEPEX has conducted a special Japan Studies Award to provide a unique internship opportunity for a university student in the DC area in both the U.S. and Japan. This year’s recipient spent 10 weeks interning in the Sojitz Corporation of America’s Washington, DC office; and traveled to Tokyo for an immersive 11-day internship experience.Takahiro

JSA intern in Tokyo

For more about this year’s JSA recipient’s experience in Tokyo, please read CEPEX JSA Tokyo Internship Experience Report.

The CEPEX Japan Studies Award is made possible through the generous support of Sojitz Foundation and All Nippon Airways (ANA). 

New Sojitz Foundation Logo 2

ANA Inspiration of Japan


My name is Takahiro Kinoshita. Having been raised in a Japanese household and going through primary and secondary education in Illinois, I have had a unique and early exposure to seeing the interaction of Japanese and American culture firsthand. My father’s experience in business overseas, such as in his work in the Middle East, inspired me to pursue a similar path in a global setting. I am currently a third-year student at American University in the School of International Service with the prospect of a thematic and regional focus in Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights in East Asia. Some courses I have taken include non-western philosophy and world politics, which have provided me a strong foundation for interning at Sojitz. Alongside my study in IR, I am also working with the Japanese Department at American University. The work includes translating current events from Japanese text and dialogue into English.

The privilege of being able to work with a historically prominent institution like Sojitz will be a positive component in helping my understanding of the Japanese business environment. Many of my courses at American University have dealt with comparative politics and cross-cultural communications which has provided me greater context of the international system. I am excited to have this opportunity to apply my education in a professional setting such as Sojitz.

While I have frequently been to Japan to visiting family, this internship will be an exciting opportunity to engage myself in a professional capacity. I have no doubt that my experience here will be a valuable asset to my future pursuits in international relations.

The CEPEX Japan Studies Award is made possible through the generous support of Sojitz Foundation and All Nippon Airways (ANA). 

New Sojitz Foundation Logo 2

ANA Inspiration of Japan

Mayuko Chashiro

Keio University graduate student Mayuko Chashiro began her 8-week internship at the Sojitz Corporation of America’s DC office on January 27. Mayuko is part of the Japan Internship for the Development of Young Leaders (IDYL) program. The Japan IDYL program was created with support from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State to cultivate future leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship and provide professional enrichment for Japanese university students and researchers.

This is not Mayuko’s first experience living and studying in the United States. During high school she was an exchange student in Minnesota, and she also conducted field work in the U.S. during the 2016 Democratic primaries. As an intern in the Sojitz office, May will attend a wide variety of think tank events with a particular focus on Japan-U.S. relationship under the Trump Administration; how the Democratic Party reorganizes and redefines their platform; and U.S. foreign policy.

CEPEX 2017 Japan Studies Award

 Desired Candidate Qualities Include:

·         Strong interest in Japan

·         Open to learning and trying new things

·         Positive attitude

·         Organized

·         Self-starter and independent

·         Able to work with minimal supervision

·         Research skills a plus

·         Able to work in a professional environment

·         Flexible

·         Interest in gaining internship experience


2017 Japan Studies Award APPLICATION

 (click on the link above to access the application)

Application Timeline

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Please submit applications to uehara.nicole@sojitz.com by 5 PM on January 31.

Application Review: February 1-3, 2017

CEPEX staff will review applications and select candidates for in-person interviews.


Successful candidates will be contacted via email to set up an interview date and time on February 3.

INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED: February 6-10, 2017

Applicants who pass the initial screening will be invited for an in-person interview with the CEPEX staff at the Sojitz Corporation of America’s office in Washington, DC.

RESULTS ANNOUNCED: Friday, February 10, 2017

Interview results will be announced by February 10, 2017.

10-week DC Internship: February 13-April 28, 2017

The Japan Studies Award winner will intern for 10 weeks in the Washington, DC office of Sojitz Corporation of America. Internship hours will be 5-10 hours/week, depending on the student’s schedule, with one week off for Spring Break. The 2017 Japan Studies Award winner will participate in think tank seminars, targeted research, and professional networking-related activities during the internship. A small stipend is provided during the DC internship.

10-Day Japan Trip: May/June 2017 (Dates TBD)

The Japan Studies Award winner will have an opportunity to travel to Tokyo for an internship with Sojitz Corporation. Activities will include a self-directed research project and first-hand look at the Japanese business world. Roundtrip airfare, hotel and a stipend are provided during the Tokyo internship.

The 2017 CEPEX Japan Studies Award

CEPEX is proud to be sponsoring the 8th Annual CEPEX Japan Studies Award. The goal of this program is to support future American professionals interested in Japan and to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations. 2017 Japan Studies Award is open to undergraduate students in good standing currently enrolled in degree programs at American University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University and the University of Maryland. Students do not need to be currently enrolled in a Japanese language course to be considered, but must have a strong interest in Japan.

New this years, the winner of the 2017 Japan Studies Award will participate in a 10-week internship at the Washington, DC office of Sojitz Corporation of America, a subsidiary of a Japanese trade and investment corporation, and a 10-day internship at Sojitz Corporation in Tokyo, Japan. The DC internship will be 5-10 hours per week from February 13-April 28, 2017, depending on the student’s class schedule. During the internship the student will attend events at think tanks, learn to write concise event summaries, and conduct targeted research. The winner will also experience working with Japanese speakers, networking with professionals in their future field of interest, and gaining a first-hand understanding of working for a Japanese corporation located in the United States.

After completing the DC internship, the 2017 Japan Studies Award winner will travel to Tokyo, Japan for 10 days during May/June 2017. The winner will be able to further their interest in Japanese language, culture and international business through an internship at Sojitz Corporation, located in Kasumigaseki.

How to Apply: Prospective candidates must submit a completed application by January 31, 2017 by email. The application includes a variety of short answer questions and two brief essay questions. Select candidates will be invited to a brief interview at CEPEX headquarters in Washington, DC during February 6-10. The 2017 Japan Studies Award winner will be announced on February 10, 2017.

The award includes a small stipend during the DC internship, as well as roundtrip airfare to Tokyo, hotel accommodations, and a stipend during the Tokyo internship. For more information about CEPEX and previous Japan Studies Award winners, please visit http://www.cepex.org/.

Any questions may be sent to Nicole Uehara, CEPEX President, at uehara.nicole@sojitz.com, or Andrea Wert, CEPEX Director, at wert.andrea@sojitz.com.

The application for the 2017 Award will be available on the CEPEX website in December 2016.

About CEPEX: The Center for Professional Exchange (CEPEX) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the U.S.-Japan relationship and cultivating the next generation of Japan experts.

Sojitz Foundation and All Nippon Airways have generously supported the CEPEX Japan Studies Award since 2011. 

New Sojitz Foundation Logo 2

ANA Inspiration of Japan


On November 7 the JET Program’s 30th Anniversary commemorative ceremony was held in Tokyo. Over 800 people attended the ceremony, including current and former participants of the JET Program, as well as special guests Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako. The JET Program was created in 1987 with 848 participants from four countries. In 2016 there are over 5,000 participants from 40 countries participating. To-date, over 65,000 people from 65 countries have participated. Most JET Program participants are hired as assistant language teachers (ALTs), with a smaller number working as coordinators of international relations (CIRs) or sports exchange advisers (SEAs). A key aspect of the JET Program is grassroots internationalization, with JET Program participants acting as unofficial cultural ambassadors. JET Program alumni often continue their role as bridges between Japan and their own home country.

Sojitz Corporation, a Japanese trade and investment company created from the 2004 merger of Nissho Iwai and Nichimen, participated in the 30th anniversary ceremony. Sojitz has been actively recruiting JET Program participants since 2011, when Sojitz attended the JET Returners’ Conference in Yokohama.


Sojitz Global HR Yoji Abe


Currently there are five JET Program alumni working at the Tokyo headquarters of Sojitz Corporation.


James Regent was an ALT in Kuki City, Saitama, for two years before he was recruited by Sojitz Corporation in 2011. James worked in Sojitz’s Global HR section, before being transferred to the Machinery Division.


Back row: James Regent (Saitama), Denton Clark (Saitama), Gabriel Beckerman(Toyama), Ashley Murphey (Fukui), Haruna Otsuka, Kenneth Price(Kagoshima)

Front row: Sojitz Global HR Yoji Abe and David Williams; Sojitz Research Institute Yukio Tada and Yoshikazu Ichikawa


Attention advanced-level students of Japanese language, literature and culture!

The University of Iowa’s MFA in Literary Translation has designated Japanese as a priority language for admissions and graduate funding. University of Iowa’s MFA program combines hands-on collaborative training, with theoretical studies and curriculum focused on history, traditions and cultures. Additionally, the university’s Japanese Studies program received a generous Japan Foundation grant in 2015 that has enabled the hosting of a Japanese author in Iowa each fall semester as well as a number of other travel and research-related support through 2019. Of particular note, the visiting Japanese author and MFA in Literary Translation students with a Japanese focus will collaborate on translating original works into English.

For more information about the program, visit: www.clas.uiowa.edu/dwllc/mfa-literary-translation.  Prospective students are welcome to email questions to the program director, Aron Aji, at: aron-aji@uiowa.edu.

For Japan-specific questions, email Kendall Heitzman, Assistant Professor, Japanese Literature and Culture, at kendall-heitzman@uiowa.edu.

MFA Program Applications are due January 1, 2017.