The U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) identifies, cultivates, and empowers a new generation of Japanese American leaders. A new cohort of Emerging Leaders is selected annually to attend USJC’s Annual Conference, participate in leadership education, and join program alumni in bridging the future of the U.S.–Japan relationship.
SPICE’s Rylan Sekiguchi, Manager of Curriculum and Instructional Design, recently returned from Washington, DC, where he participated in the U.S.-Japan Council’s annual conference as a member of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). USJC was conceptualized by the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and Irene Hirano Inouye, President of USJC.
Sekiguchi was born and raised in Honolulu, and from as far back as he can remember, Senator Inouye was a role model and iconic figure in Hawaii, serving as the state’s U.S. Senator from 1963 to 2012 and as President pro tempore of the Senate from 2010 until his death in 2012. Sekiguchi graduated from Roosevelt High School and chose Stanford University over Harvard and Yale—to avoid the snowy winters—for his undergraduate studies. He joined SPICE in 2005 shortly after graduation.
“I feel honored to participate in USJC and the ELP specifically,” reflects Sekiguchi. “The ELP is such an incredible program, and knowing that USJC was conceptualized by my home state’s late Senator Inouye makes the experience even more meaningful to me. The 2017 ELP cohort has five members who are originally from Hawaii, and I hope that we and the others in my cohort will help realize Senator Inouye’s vision of empowering a new generation of leaders in the U.S.–Japan relationship.”
Sekiguchi is one of 12 delegates of the eighth ELP cohort. “Acceptance into the ELP is highly competitive,” notes Kaz Maniwa, Senior Vice President of USJC, who has directed the ELP since its inception. Maniwa closed his law practice in San Francisco after 36 years to dedicate himself to the Council and the empowerment of youth specifically through the ELP. “It’s exciting to be able to work with the next generation of leaders of our community and in U.S.–Japan relations. The ELP delegates are smart, compassionate, ambitious in a good way, forward-thinking and supportive of each other. They come from across the United States and Japan and have developed into a broad network of future leaders.”
Besides receiving leadership training and networking with program alumni, the 2017 ELP delegates attended the U.S.-Japan Council’s annual conference and met with leaders in the business, nonprofit, and government sectors. This year’s conference theme was “Unity in Diversity: Shaping the Future Together,” and its panelists and keynote speakers spanned a wide range of backgrounds, expertise, and politics, and included two current members of the U.S. Cabinet. Delegates considered changes that have arisen under the new White House administration and how Japan and the United States can continue to work together toward mutually beneficial goals.
Sekiguchi and his fellow ELP delegates have already seeded ideas to help strengthen U.S.–Japan relations. Some of the ideas lie in the area of education. For example, Sekiguchi shared his current SPICE work with the Mineta Legacy Project, which focuses on the life of former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, Vice Chair of USJC’s Board of Councilors. Secretary Mineta served as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Commerce and President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Transportation. The Mineta Legacy Project will include a documentary being developed by USJC Council Leaders Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi and an educational curriculum that is being developed by Sekiguchi.
The U.S.-Japan Council’s 2018 conference will take place in Tokyo in November, and plans are already underway for the eighth ELP cohort’s first reunion.
Find more information on the TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program online
Find more information on the U.S.-Japan Council online