The Center For Professional Exchange

CEPEX hosted a dinner on September 24, 2014, with special guest Mr. Yukio Tada, Chairman of Keizai Doyukai’s Project Team for Empowerment of Japan Hands. Mr. Tada visited DC to discuss Empowerment of the JET Program following his delivery of a keynote speech at the JETAA National Conference in Seattle, Washington.

Tada September 2014

Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) has initiated a number of activities in 2014 to promote and expand employment opportunities for former JET Program participants. A survey distributed to Doyukai members revealed only 16 percent of the 207 responding Japanese companies knew about the JET Program, and only nine companies had hired former JET personnel. Doyukai would like to highlight this talented pool of foreigners who have gained an understanding about Japan and Japanese language ability through their participation on the JET Program as a possible resource for the 90% of responding Japanese companies that intend to hire more foreigners.

Mr. Tada spoke to a group of former JET Program participants, JETAADC officers and other U.S.-Japan related attendees at the dinner on September 24. Key talking points highlighted a number of initiatives that exist for JET Program participants in Japan that have not been widely publicized.

⇒ Max 180 days stay after JET (JET在職証明書 法務省入国管理局)

⇒ Post-JET program in Universities (長崎大学版学内JET 旧六国際連携機構)

⇒ Special Teaching License for ALT (特別免許状 実習600時間、有効10年)

This discussion was extremely timely as Japan prepares for hiring greater numbers of JET Program participants to work as Assistant Language Teachers in public schools throughout Japan. The language skills and cultural understanding JET Program participants learn throughout their experiences in Japan create a unique potential workforce.

Sojitz Corporation


Management Trainee

Tokyo, Japan

Sojitz Corporation is a highly diversified Japanese business conglomerate operating in a wide variety of industries, with a group network which encompasses over 400 subsidiaries and affiliates in more than 50 countries across the globe.

We are now looking for highly motivated and talented students or graduates who wish to develop a career in international business. As a Tokyo Headquarters employee, successful applicants will initially work in Tokyo, with possible overseas assignments to affiliated companies or overseas branches. Management Trainees work with our global-minded business professionals and are offered unrivalled career and personal development opportunities including Japanese language training.

Position         : Management Trainee (Permanent)

Major             : Any

Language      : Business-Level English (Japanese fluency not required as training is provided)

Start Date     : October 2014 / April 2015 / October 2015

(Depending on your graduation date)

We will be attending and holding interviews at the Boston Career Forum on November 7th (Fri.) – 9th (Sun.), 2014 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, as well as visiting Universities in the Washington DC, New York and Boston area (schedule to be announced).

For further information please send your resume to: Sojitz HR

Note: The Boston Career Forum is the largest Japanese-English bilingual job fair held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center at 415 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210.  (http://www.careerforum.net/event/bos/?lang=E)

Andrea Nikki Zak photo

(L-R: Andrea Wert, Nicole Uehara and Zak Whittle)


My name is Zak Whittle, a senior at George Mason University majoring in Finance with a Japanese Studies minor.  Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself! Growing up, I lived in many places throughout the United States. The place I call home, though, is Washington. My family moved there when I was in middle school because my father starting working for the Japanese company, Sharp Microelectronics. It was around that time when my interest in Japan began to grow. My father would travel to Japan on a regular basis, and would often bring his Japanese coworkers home for dinner parties.

When I entered high school, I began taking a Japanese language course. I was one of only three freshmen that had been brave enough to do so! It was difficult, but as I studied the language and the culture, I grew to love it. I took Japanese each subsequent year of high school and even became a Teacher’s Assistant for it! During the summer of my third year in high school, I traveled to Japan for the first time through an exchange program. I stayed in Hamamatsu, Japan, but was able to travel to several beautiful cities, including Kyoto.  It was an amazing experience and I had a fun time and I made a goal for myself to improve my Japanese speaking abilities.

After graduating high school, I decided to serve a two-year mission for my church. I was apprehensive, because I knew I wanted to start college and continue studying Japanese. A few weeks after I had submitted my application for the church mission, I received my assignment. I was thrilled to learn that I would be spending the next two years in Japan! Over the course of those two years I was sent to several locations throughout southern Japan, but spent the majority of the time in Okinawa. I made many friends while I taught English classes and did service. It was a great experience and really helped my Japanese-speaking abilities.

Once I returned home, I enrolled in college and began studying finance, marketing and Japanese. My goals for the future include working as a businessman for a large company like Google or Amazon with an expanding presence in Japan. This internship is helping my dream become a reality!

I’m looking forward to all of the experiences this internship will provide and I hope that I can give a lot back to Sojitz Corporation and the CEPEX Internship program. The assignments I will be given, the events I will attend, and the friends I will make will open countless doors for me. I can’t wait to see where this amazing opportunity will lead me!


 2014 Application Packet

The 2014 CEPEX Japan Studies Award contest is open to undergraduate students in good standing at American University, George Mason University and George Washington University. While there is no restriction on the field of study or a requirement of enrollment in a Japanese language course, strong interest in Japan or U.S.-Japan relations is preferred.

Desired Candidate Qualities

  • Interest in Japan
  • Open to learning new things
  • Positive attitude
  • Organized
  • Motivated
  • Self-starter and independent
  • Able to work with minimal supervision
  • Research skills a plus
  • Able to work in a professional environment
  • Willing to participate in speaking engagements about the award
  • Flexible

Application Timeline

APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 14th, 2014, 5:00 pm (EST)

Application Review: March 15-30, 2014




In-Person Pre-Internship Meeting: April 15-May 1, 2014 (Meeting date TBD)

2-Week DC Internship: May 19-30, 2014 (tentative dates)

10-Day Japan Trip: June 5-14, 2014 (tentative dates)

 CEPEX 2014 Japan Studies Award Application Packet

Please click on the blue link above to access the 2014 CEPEX Japan Studies Award Application. If you have any questions, please contact CEPEX Director Nicole Uehara at 202-429-0280.


CEPEX header

The 2014 CEPEX Japan Studies Award

CEPEX is proud to be sponsoring the 5th Annual Japan Studies Award in 2014. The goals of this program are to support young future American professionals interested in Japan and to strengthen the overall U.S.-Japan relationship.

The 2014 Japan Studies Award is open to undergraduate students in good standing currently enrolled in the degree programs at American University, George Mason University, and George Washington University. There is no restriction on the major or field of study that the student is pursuing. Nor is it required that the participating student be enrolled in a Japanese language course.

For consideration for the award, potential candidates will submit a completed application packet by March 16, 2014, which will include a variety of short answer questions and two essay questions. Select candidates will be asked to participate in a brief interview at CEPEX headquarters in Washington, D.C. The final winner will be chosen based on the quality of the submitted application packet and successful interview.

The winner of the 2014 Japan Studies Award will be granted a two-week internship at the Washington D.C. branch office of Sojitz Corporation of America, a company with strong ties to Japan, beginning late May. During the internship, the student will have the opportunity attend events at think-tanks, write event summaries and conduct targeted research. The winner will also be able to experience working with Japanese speakers, networking with professionals in their future field of interest, and gain first-hand understanding of working for a Japanese-related corporation located in the U.S.

After completing the internship in Washington, the 2014 Japan Studies Award winner will travel to Japan. The student will be able to further their interest in Japanese language, culture and international business through a short internship at Sojitz Corporation’s headquarters in Tokyo. For more information about CEPEX and last year’s award, please visit http://www.cepex.org/. The full application packet and a timeline for the 2014 Award will be available in December 2013 on the CEPEX website.

Best of luck,

Nicole Uehara, CEPEX Director, Washington, DC office

Andrea Wert, CEPEX Assistant Director, Washington, DC office


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.

CEPEX appreciates the generous support for the annual Japan Studies Award from Sojitz Foundation and ANA.ANA Vertical


Sojitz Foundation logo

Donald Final Report PhotosI am really thankful for being selected for this award.  The entire experience was wonderful and I learned a lot.  It was very interesting learning how a multi-national corporation like Sojitz has a presence abroad.  I was able to see how the research done in Washington, DC made it to Tokyo for inclusion in bigger projects.  The Japanese business environment is very different from typical American corporations.  For example, many of the Japanese employees would stay and work past the exit bell to finish up what they were working on.  In contrast, most American businessmen are on a set schedule of 9AM-5PM and will just pick up where they left off the following day. I can honestly say this was the best experience of my collegiate career.  I cannot wait to tap into these experiences as I finish up my undergraduate education.

Visiting Japan was a life-changing experience.  The CEPEX Japan Studies Award was the first time I have ever left America.  Tokyo was very warm and friendly and I definitely want to go back sometime.  It is very hard to pinpoint a favorite part of the experience as everything was amazing.  However, if I was forced to I would definitely say the food.  The staff at the Sojitz Soken were very welcoming and helpful.  They answered all of my questions and served as an amazing resource.  During the Japan Portion of the Japan Studies Award I undertook a mini-research project, facilitated English-learning workshops, went to different educational events, and learned about working in a Japanese company.

Japan Portion: Research Project

For my research project I studied the attitudes and opinions about politics between Japanese people and Americans.  I used datasets from The Comparative Studies of Electoral Systems online for quantitative data and interviewed Japanese people through the Salon de Eigo for qualitative data.  In the end I found consistent themes that the Japanese followed political things more out of obligations to work rather than a personal interest.  Additionally I found that although Americans are more vocal about politics, a higher percent of Japanese vote more.  However, this can be attributed to numerous things that can be viewed as blocks to electoral participation (voting on Tuesdays, ID laws, etc.).

Japan Portion: Salon de Eigo

Salon de eigo photo

Facilitating the Salon de Eigo was my favorite part of the Japan Portion of the JSA.  Salons de Eigo are classes where Sojitz employees that are studying English can practice their language skills once a week or so.  As a substitute teacher I have taught Japanese to Americans before so it was interesting doing it the other way around.  In addition to giving a one-point lesson on regional dialects in America (http://www.businessinsider.com/22-maps-that-show-the-deepest-linguistic-conflicts-in-america-2013-6#) I lead discussions about politics with the Salon attendees.  These responses were used as qualitative data for my final research project for the JSA.  In the above graphic you will see email feedback I have received from my “students” as the guest facilitator.  It was a very rewarding experience being able to expose political discussions to these individuals in Japan.

Japan Portion: Tours, Trips, Etc.

In my second week in Japan I took a tour of the Upper House.  It was great getting an inside look and being able to compare the US Capitol to the Kokkaigijidou.   The Sojitz Tokyo Office was located in a prime location by a lot of the governmental buildings.  It felt as if I was interning in a major organ of the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Donald in Tokyo photos

During the week I accompanied a colleague at the research branch to an event at Temple University’s Tokyo Campus about the US Pivot to Asia.  This reminded me of the work I did in DC (except I did not have to write a report afterwards).  The weekend allowed for more extensive travel throughout the Tokyo region.  I traveled to various places like Asakusa, Akihabara, Roppongi, and Yokohama.  Each area had its own individual feel.  In Yokohama I visited the Cup Noodle Museum.  There I was able to learn about Momofuku Ando and his contributions to the Instant Ramen industry.  I also made my own custom Cup Noodle to take back home with me to America.

Donald at Disney SeaLast but not least an exciting expedition I went on was to Tokyo DisneySea.  I felt the Disney magic transformed through the Japanese language.  Although I didn’t stay for very long (the passes were highly discounted after 6PM) it was still an enjoyable nighttime excursion.


I am really thankful for the opportunity!  It was really exciting and I learned a lot.  It was great to see the inner-workings of Sojitz in both the DC and Tokyo Offices.  I was able to see how a multinational company like Sojitz operates on a global scale.  It is hard to pinpoint what my favorite part of the trip was because I enjoyed every single second of it.  I hope future awardees have as much fun (if not more) as I had.


CEPEX and Sunrock Institute hosted Keizai Doyukai Americas-Japan Relations Committee chairman Yukio Tada for a special dinner with JET Program alumni, Japan experts and friends of Keizai Doyukai at Tono Sushi on November 13, 2013. Mr. Tada discussed Abenomics and fielded questions from the assembled group about the role of women and immigration in Japan. Keizai Doyukai is the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, an influential business organization where members shed their corporate identity as they participate in discussing political, economic and social issues.


The event began with a networking cocktail hour.


(L-R: Keizai Doyukai representatives Tom Oku, R. Byron Sigel and Yukio Tada; with Sunrock Institute President Ken Kuribayashi.)

Keizai Doyukai membership includes 1,300 corporate executives from 900 large corporations in Japan, including foreign corporations. R. Byron Sigel is an executive officer of Baxter Japan who provided keen observations of Abenomics as a foreign executive working in Japan.


Following a sushi bento, participants engaged in a lively discussion with the representatives from Keizai Doyukai.


(L-R: Yasuchika Hasegawa, Yukio Tada, Ken Kuribayashi)

Keizai Doyukai President Yasuchika Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceuticals dropped by the event to say a few words.


L-R: Yukio Tada, KAC President Ayako Smethurst

Donald Photo (1)

Hello my name is Donald Garrett.  I am a rising senior at George Mason University that is majoring in Government and International Politics with a double minor in both Japanese Studies and Tourism & Events Management.

My interest in the Japanese language began in high school.  I wanted to study a foreign language that was outside of the typical Spanish/French/Latin offering.  Fortunately, my county produced distance learning videos for the study of Japanese.  I was able to learn from the videos along with occasional visits from the teachers themselves.  My studies of the language and culture continued into college.

Outside of Mason, I am employed as a Substitute Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).  FCPS has a Japanese Immersion program at two of its elementary schools where students grades K-6 are taught Math and Science in the Japanese language.  I have been able to put my language skills to the test and sub for some of these instructors.  They have been some of my favorite assignments.

After I graduate, my nearest career goal is to enter the field of government relations, or lobbying.  I am really excited for the CEPEX Japan Studies Award because it will give me the opportunity to see how Sojitz, a multinational corporation, interacts in the Washington DC area and how this translates back to its headquarters in Japan.

All in all, I am thankful and excited for the opportunity to intern with Sojitz both in the United States and in Japan.  I’ve never traveled outside of the country before so this experience hopefully be eye-opening and life-changing.

Christy Busch and Nicole Uehara will visit the George Mason University campus for an information session about the Japan Studies Award.

Date:  Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time: 6:00 pm-7:30 pm

Room: Student Union 1 (Sub 1) 3a (located on the 2nd floor)





The 2013 CEPEX Japan Studies Award contest is open to undergraduate students in good standing. There is no restriction on the major or field of study the student is pursuing. Nor is it required that the participating student be enrolled in a Japanese language course.

Desired Candidate Qualities

  •   Interest in Japan  
  •   Open to learning about and trying new things  
  •    Positive attitude  
  •    Organized  
  •    Motivated  
  •    Self-starter and independent
  •   Able to work with  minimal supervision  
  •   Research skills a plus  
  •   Able to work in a professional environment  
  •   Willing to participate in speaking engagements about the award  
  •   Flexible

Application Timeline:

The 2013 Application will be posted on the CEPEX website (www.cepex.org) in December 2012.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 5:00 pm (EST)

Application Review: March 16-April 1, 2013




In-Person Pre-Internship Meeting: April 17-May 1, 2013 (Meeting date TBD)

2-Week DC Internship: May 20-31, 2013 (tentative dates)

10-Day Japan Trip: June 5-14, 2013 (tentative dates)


Click on the blue link above to access the 2013 Japan Studies Award application packet.

For further information or questions, please contact the CEPEX co-directors Christy Busch or Nicole Uehara  at 202-429-0280.