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