The Center For Professional Exchange

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.


JET Program USA video

The JET Program USA created a new promotional video to give an inside view of the JET Program. Entering the 30th year, the JET Program has sent over 61,000 global participants (including nearly 32,000 Americans) to work in schools, boards of education, and government offices throughout Japan.

JET Program 2017 applications are due November 18, 2016.

For more information, visit JET Program USA.

CEPEX header

James B

My name is James Bruniany, and I am a rising senior at George Mason University. I am currently studying Global Affairs with a concentration in East Asia alongside a minor in Japanese Language Studies. I am also the acting vice-president of George Mason’s Japanese Student Association and do my utmost to be active with individuals with an interest in Japan and with the Japanese students that come from abroad to study at my university. I had a marvelous experience studying abroad in Akita, Japan in 2015 and gained a substantial amount of both linguistic and cultural knowledge during my time there. The lifelong friends I made and the experiences that I had at the school and outside of it in Touhoku had a major effect on my life and have made me come to love Japan ever since. After coming back from that trip, I became extremely interested in learning as much as I can about Japanese as well as about US-Japan foreign and business relations. One of my greatest desires is to strengthen my knowledge of these relationships and of the Japanese language by the time I graduate.

I am extremely excited to be working for three weeks with Sojitz and hope that by working in a company that has such a global presence, I will be able to open my view of the world even more and gain a considerable amount of applicable knowledge of the ways Japanese business is conducted and more deeply comprehend the relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

It is my aspiration to work in Japan after I receive my undergraduate degree and once I reach that point, I will be using the experiences that I will gain by working at Sojitz as a CEPEX intern to help me find a position in the public or private sector that will give me the opportunity to influence US-Japan relations in a positive way. I never thought that I would have a chance to see what working in a real company with a presence in the US and Japan is like, so I am extremely grateful that I am being given this opportunity by CEPEX. I plan to use it to fullest extent and give back to Sojitz in any way that I can in the future! Thank you!

Nicole James Andrea

JSA intern with CEPEX and Sojitz DC staff Nicole Uehara and Andrea Wert.

Azuma James Yoshida

JSA intern with Sojitz DC staff Koji Azuma and Masanori Yoshida.

The CEPEX Japan Studies Award is generously supported by Sojitz Foundation and ANA.

New Sojitz Foundation Logo 2

ANA Vertical

Yukio Tada, chairman of Keizai Doyukai’s Empowerment of Japan Hands committee, was the special guest speaker at a dinner with JET alumni in the DC area on March 16, 2016. This relatively new committee was created following initial action in the Americas-Japan Relations Committee in 2013, when Doyukai conducted a survey to gauge the awareness of the JET Program by the Japanese business community. The survey showed a tremendous lack of awareness about the cadre of young foreigners who have gained key insight into Japanese culture, lifestyles and language through living and working in communities throughout Japan on the JET Program. Keizai Doyukai recognized the need to create a team dedicated to empowering “Japan Hands”, including establishing an official committee, and organizing events to connect business executives with these potential “influencers” and “bridge-builders” between Japan and other countries.

Tada-san at Tono Sushi

This potential pool of next generation “Japan Hands” include participants and alumni of government-sponsored exchange programs such the JET Program; the scores of foreign students who study abroad in Japan; as well as the members of the U.S. military forces based in Japan and their families. By highlighting the importance of these Japan Hands to the U.S.-Japan relationship, Keizai Doyukai has been trying to develop cross-sectoral collaborations with the private sector, public sector, local governments, academia and foreign organizations in Japan.

Tada-san discussion at Tono Sushi

The JET Program includes over 30,000 alumni from the United States alone, who have experienced living and working in all corners of Japan. The DC-area JET Alumni attendees at the dinner lived in Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Niigata, Shimane, Mie, Wakayama, Kagawa, Ehime, Kyoto, Saga, Kumamoto and Okinawa. These alumni, who are unofficial cultural ambassadors for their locales in Japan, are now working in the State Department, Department of Justice, USDA, Embassy of Japan, NPOs involved in international exchange, Japanese businesses, as well as the JET Program office in the U.S. During the last year, a special interest group at the State Department was established by alumni of the JET Program and over 100 members have already joined.

Tada-san talk at Tono Sushi

As the JET Program prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2017, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) plans to revise its Guidelines for English education to include teaching English beginning in Grades 3 and 4 in elementary school through high school. In addition, there is growing support for expanding JET Program ALTs from only working in public schools to private schools; creating a JET Coordinator in small local communities; and conducting a new survey of JET Program participants. Mr. Tada shared news about Project “G” with Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, which is moving ahead to include teaching English from Grade 1 in elementary school beginning in 2017. Nagasaki Prefecture has also been on the forefront of adopting English education in elementary schools, and notably over 4,000 Junior High School G7 students (中学校1年生) attended a special English Camp.

Group Photo