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Japanese American Leadership Symposium

Culture and Community Engagement: A Japanese American Perspective

Organized by: The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP)
Co-Organized by: U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) External link
Supported by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs External link, Ishikawa Prefectural Government

CGP organizes the Japanese American Leadership Symposium under the auspices of The Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program with assistance from the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and other local organizations every year.

This year's delegation will visit Kanazawa, and the symposium's theme is titled "Culture and Community Engagement: A Japanese American Perspective."

Culture plays a significant role in a modern, diverse society. At this symposium, we will focus on the role of culture in community development. The panelists, who are Japanese American leaders, will share their experience in community engagement, and exchange ideas on the potential impact of cultural activities.

Japanese Americans are now active in all areas of American society. But they have also faced considerable difficulties over the course of history. Through that experience, Japanese Americans have gained a powerful awareness of the challenges that exist in a diverse society. In this context, the panelists will also discuss how to promote diversity and inclusion within a community.

Date & Time Monday, March 6, 2017 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Doors Open at 5:00 p.m.)
Venue Hotel Nikko Kanazawa "Kujaku" (3rd Floor) Access External link
2-15-1 Honmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture
Tel: +81-(0)76-234-1111
Language English/Japanese Simultaneous Interpretation Provided
Panelists Leslie A. Ito (President & CEO, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center)
Ken Russell (Commissioner, City of Miami)
Wendy Takahisa (Executive Director, Office of Community Relations, Morgan Stanley)
Discussant Matsutaro Fukumitsu (President, Fukumitsu Sake Brewery)
Moderator Masayuki Sasaki (Distinguished Professor, Doshisha University)
Irene Hirano Inouye (President, U.S.-Japan Council)
Registration To register, please provide us your
  1. Name
  2. Title / Affiliation
  3. Contact Information (Tel / Fax / E-mail)
* Free Admission
* Your personal information, including your name and affiliation, will be used only for the purposes of registration at this symposium.

To learn more about the Symposium, contact:
The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Tokyo
Tel: +81-(0)3-5369-6072 Fax: +81-(0)3-5369-6042 E-mail:
(when sending an e-mail, please replace the full-width "@" character with a half-width "@" character.)

Biographies of Panelists and Coordinators

Leslie A. Ito (Los Angeles, CA)

Photo of Leslie A. Ito

Ms. Leslie A. Ito is President and CEO of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) located in Los Angeles. Founded in 1971, JACCC is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. Previously, Ms. Ito was Program Director for Arts and Health at the California Community Foundation, and Director of Grant Programs at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. She has also served as Executive Director of Visual Communications, the nation's premiere Asian American media arts organization, and as Program Associate in the Media, Arts Culture Division at the Ford Foundation in New York. Ms. Ito served on the Board of Directors for Americans for the Arts, TELIC Arts Exchange in Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Films By Youth Inside (FYI Films), inspiring incarcerated youth through filmmaking. She is also a co-founder of the Los Angeles Asian American and Pacific Islander Giving Circle. A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Ito received an M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Fukuoka, Wakayama, Kumamoto.

Wendy Takahisa (New York, NY)

Photo of Wendy Takahisa

Ms. Wendy Takahisa is Executive Director, Office of Community Relations at Morgan Stanley in New York. There, she works to position Morgan Stanley as a leader in community development, managing relations with community groups, regulators and other stakeholders to understand and respond to community needs. For much of the past 30 years, her career has focused on ensuring that banks provide services to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and people. Previously, Ms. Takahisa held several positions over 20 years with Citigroup, including Managing Director, Global Compliance Programs. She has been on the Board of Directors of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for more than 20 years, and served as President of the Board of Directors for over 12 years. AAFE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Asian Americans and all of those in need. She is also an active member of the New York Japanese American community, participating with organizations such as the Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese Americans and Japanese in America, and the Japanese American Citizens League. Ms. Takahisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Tokyo and Osaka.

Ken Russell (Miami, FL)

Photo of Ken Russell

Mr. Ken Russell was elected Commissioner of Miami’s District 2 in November 2015. He soon became the Vice Chair of the City Commission and the Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, and the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. His priorities include transit solutions, smart development, homelessness, green space, and affordable housing initiatives. Mr. Russell has begun work with Consul General Ken Okaniwa to restore Miami’s Ichimura Japanese Gardens. He has conducted business in over 40 countries and founded several charitable standup paddleboard events. He spent many years as a professional yo-yo player, a skill learned from his mother, one of Japan’s greatest yo-yo players. Mr. Russell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and studied International Business at Kwansei Gakuin Daigaku in Nishinomiya.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Nara, Tokyo.


Matsutaro Fukumitsu

Photo of Matsutaro Fukumitsu

Mr. Matsutaro Fukumitsu was born in Kanazawa city. He is the 13th president of Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery, which was founded in 1625. He graduated from Keio Business School after receiving his BA from the Department of Economics, Keio University.
Mr. Fukumitsu became the President of Fukumitsuya in 1985, and has been implementing various projects that introduce new ways to enjoy Japanese Sake in daily lives. He opened a restaurant in Tokyo, which is now known for receiving a Michelin Star. He is a supervisor of the Japanese Sake and Shochu Makers Association, director of the Kanazawa Craftwork Business Creation Agency, as well as a board member of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. He has received numerous awards, including the Kanazawa Cultural Activities Award (1999), the Ishikawa Design award (2001), and Medal with Blue Ribbon from the Japanese Government.


Masayuki Sasaki

Photo of Masayuki Sasaki

Dr. Masayuki Sasaki is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics, Doshisha University. He is also an Emeritus Professor at Osaka City University. Dr. Sasaki received his Ph.D in Economics from Kyoto University, as well as his MA and BA.
Before assuming his current position at Doshisha University, Dr. Sasaki taught Economics at the Osaka University of Economics and Law, Kanazawa University, Ritsumeikan University and Osaka City University. He was also a visiting researcher at University of Bologna in Italy. His research focuses on creative cities, creative economy, cultural economics and urban economics. His works include: “Urban Regeneration through Cultural Creativity and Social Inclusion: Rethinking Creative City theory through a Japanese Case Study” (2010) and “Creative Cities of the 21st Century: Their Diversity and Network” (2016).

Irene Hirano Inouye

Photo of Irene Hirano Inouye

Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye is President of the U.S.-Japan Council, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., dedicated to building people-to-people relationships between the United States and Japan. She is the former President and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, a position she held for twenty years. A recipient of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and an honorary doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University, Ms. Hirano Inouye has extensive experience in nonprofit administration, community education and public affairs with culturally diverse communities nationwide. Ms. Hirano Inouye’s professional and community activities include serving as Trustee and immediate past chair, Ford Foundation, Trustee and immediate past chair, Kresge Foundation; and Trustee, Washington Center. She was married to the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Fukuoka, maternal side from Tokyo.

The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
4-16-3 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0004
Tel +81-(0)3-5369-6072 Fax +81-(0)3-5369-6042
The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, N.Y.
1700 Broadway, 15F, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A
Tel +1-212-489-1255 Fax +1-212-489-1344