The Center For Professional Exchange

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.

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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

Nagasaki University Faculty of Economics and its Alumni Association, in collaboration with the Keizai Doyukai Committee for Empowerment of Japan Hands, held the Nagasaki Global Forum on February 11-12, 2016. This was the third gathering of members of business, academia and government to discuss how to promote internationalization and English language proficiency in the region. Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) has helped facilitate this forum every year since 2014. Senior officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries; and Nagasaki Prefecture/City; as well as high school principals and local mayors participated in discussions with members of Doyukai and other private organizations. Eight ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) joined the reception and enjoyed the discussion with the forum participants. Special thanks to Professor Masayuki Susai, Vice Dean of Faculty of Economics, and CEPEX Nagasaki representative, who contributed to the success of this event. 3rd Forum meeting

Reception 2

Nagasaki Reception

For the 7th year, CEPEX is sponsoring a special Japan Studies Award internship opportunity in the U.S. and Japan. The program is open to students at American University, George Mason University and George Washington University. This internship will provide a unique, hands-on office experience in two locations of a Japanese trade and investment company.

  Desired Candidate Qualities Include

·         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


is available here: CEPEX 2016 Japan Studies Award Application Packet 

Application Timeline

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 18, 2016, 5:00 pm (EST)

Application Review: March 21-31, 2016

Applications will be reviewed by CEPEX staff March 21-31, 2016.


Candidates will be selected for in-person interviews and announced via email on April 1, 2016.


Applicants who passed the initial screening will be interviewed by the CEPEX staff in Washington, DC. Interview dates and other details will be sent to interviewees by email.  All transportation costs and other expenses to and from the interview site are to be borne by the applicant. Note about interviews: If you make it to the interview stage and are unable to come to the DC office, alternative arrangements may be made on a case-by-case basis.

RESULTS ANNOUNCED: Monday, April 11, 2016

Interview results will be announced to successful and alternate candidates by April 11, 2016. Alternate candidate will be upgraded when deemed necessary.

In-Person Pre-Internship Meeting: April 18-29, 2016 (Meeting date TBD)

Award winner will be required to have one meeting with CEPEX staff at the Washington, DC office to discuss the interest areas, goals and objectives of the internship, and any mentorship-related requests.

 2-Week DC Internship: May 23-June 3, 2016 (tentative dates)

Award winner will intern for two weeks in the Washington, DC office of a Japanese trading company.

10-Day Japan Trip: June 7-17, 2016 (tentative dates)

Award winner will have an opportunity to travel to Tokyo for ten days. Activities will include research projects and first-hand look at the Japanese business world in the headquarters of a Japanese trading company.

header The 2016 CEPEX Japan Studies Award

CEPEX is proud to be sponsoring the 7th Annual Japan Studies Award in 2016. 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 2016 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. Candidate must have an interest in Japan.

For consideration for the award, potential candidates will submit a completed application packet by March 18, 2016, 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 2016 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 2016 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 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 2016 Award will be available in December 2015 on the CEPEX website.

Best of luck,

Nicole Uehara, CEPEX President

Andrea Wert, CEPEX Director  

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. Many thanks to the Sojitz Foundation and All Nippon Airways for their support of CEPEX and the Japan Studies Award.

http://www.sojitz.com/en/csr/contribute/nci/ and http://www.ana.co.jp/asw/wws/us/e/

New Sojitz Foundation Logo 2

ANA Vertical

Doyukai JETAA Meeting

Nine JET Alumni members in DC met with a visiting delegation of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) for a special discussion about Millennials at the Halcyon House in Georgetown on December 7. Keizai Doyukai’s Americas-Japan Relations Committee organized a mission trip to DC and New York to engage with think tank specialists, universities, corporations and JET alumni to gather information about the Millennial generation (ages 15 to 35) and their potential impact on consumer purchasing trends. The delegation was particularly interested in learning about Millennials’ view of corporate brands, product preferences, types of corporations they empathize with; and to test whether general generational assumptions are correct. Some of the key assumptions include a preference for sharing rather than ownership; a focus on environmental protection, sustainability and climate change; a preference for spending money on experiences rather than objects; and active use of smart phones and social networking.

Izumi Kobayashi welcomeThe Keizai Doyukai delegation was led by Izumi Kobayashi, chairman of the Americas-Japan Relations Committee and Vice Chairman of Keizai Doyukai. Other mission delegates included Minoru Fujita of Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific; Eiji Hirano of MetLife Insurance K.K.; Hiroyuki Kamano of Kamano Sogo Law Offices; and Akira Okada of All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.; as well as Tom Oku and Ken Kuribayashi. The JET alumni members in attendance included JETAADC President Ryan Bedford, JETAADC Vice President Joy Champaloux, JETAADC Volunteer chair Jessica Burbach, JETAADC Social co-chair Aaron Freidus, JETAADC JET Ambassadors co-chairs Tricia Kubrin and Paul Champaloux, JET Program consultant Christopher Gray, and JETAADC members Shreena Patel and Rachel Reed.

Discussion2Keizai Doyukai delegates posed a number of questions to the JETAA members and learned that corporate transparency and coming of age during the Great Recession play a large role in shaping their consumer preferences and trends. Student loan debt, underemployment and wage stagnation have also delayed some lifecycle purchases such as cars or homes. The JET alumni noted a preference for spending money on experiences over objects, and DC urban life reduces the need for a car given the alternative services available. They do not always pay more for organic groceries, but knowing where the food comes from and how it was cultivated is an important factor to make healthy choices. There is also a geographic influence that informs some purchasing preferences. The increased awareness of discriminatory comments by CEOs as well as different corporate missions that include social good were other topics under discussion.

Halcyon TourJETAADC member and S&R Foundation Marketing and Communications Manager Shreena Patel gave a brief tour of the historic Halcyon House to JETAADC members. Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Dr. Ryuji Ueno purchased the Georgetown house in 2011, which underwent a significant renovation. Since 2013 Halcyon House has been granted a special permit for S&R Foundation’s nonprofit use for its Halcyon Incubator Program that supports social good entrepreneurs for a unique fellowship. 

JETAA Hitachi Iguchi

JETAADC members introduce themselves to JCAW member, Mr. Tetsuo Iguchi of Toshiba’s DC office.

CEPEX appreciates the wonderful hospitality by S&R Foundation and especially Dr. Kuno for making this special event possible.