Vol.29 December 2009
- Japanese Entrepreneurs Meet Future Business Leaders in NY
- Dean Takamura of CUSSW Honored by the Government of Japan
- WV Governor Manchin Met Japanese Company Executives at the Ambassador’s Residence
- Director of JIC Mr. Sugiyama Speaks on Japan-US relations
- Visit Japan-NARA 1300th Anniversary: Celebrate the First Capital of Japan
- Culture Connection -Japan Foundation, New York
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan 2010
- Kurosawa Festival
- Event Calendar
On November 15th, eight members of the ‘Shibusawa Mission of Young Business Leaders 2009’ from Japan participated in a panel discussion with students from two world-class business schools, Columbia Business School and NYU Stern School, and members of the Japanese business community in New York. The event was hosted by Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya, the Japanese Consul-General in New York at his official residence. The mission, led by Mr. Ken Shibusawa, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1909 Japanese business mission to the U.S., led by Eiichi Shibusawa, Ken Shibusawa’s great-great-grandfather, who is remembered as ‘the father of Japanese capitalism’ for his groundbreaking efforts that did nothing less than establish Japan’s modern economy.
It also marked a second event of this type at the Consulate after the ‘Japan-U.S. Young Business People Networking Event’ in November 2008, which brought together business school students and Japanese professionals living in the metropolitan area.
According to the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, which organized the mission, the purposes of the missions in 1909 and 2009 were virtually the same: to deepen understanding of American entrepreneurship and to promote philanthropy; to explore ways of improving Japan-U.S. relations and partnership between the two countries in tackling global issues; and to encourage emerging Japanese business leaders to establish networks with their counterparts in the U.S. In the current difficult economic climate, it is more important than ever that future Japanese and American business leaders have discussions and work together to tackle the common challenges facing both countries.
Opening remarks were made by Ambassador Nishimiya, Mr. Shibusawa and Professor Hugh Patrick, Director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia Business School. This was followed by presentations by two participants from Japan, Ms. Yoko Tabata, the founder and CEO of the Taishin Corporation, which processes and distributes marine products in Japan, and Dr. Toshiyuki Yoshimura, the President of the Toshimaya Corporation, a family-owned Sake brewery and wholesale business founded in 1596. The discussion was moderated by Professor Edward J. Lincoln, Director of the Center for Japan-U.S. Business and Economic Studies at NYU Stern School.
The presentations and the subsequent Q&A session covered a lot of interesting questions facing Japanese entrepreneurs, such as how and when they made up their mind to become entrepreneurs, a female newcomer’s role in the Japanese traditional marine industry, business strategies for breweries in Japan where consumer demand has been shrinking, and business strategies in foreign markets. The panelists offered sincere and thought-provoking answers to the enthusiastic audience, emphasizing the importance of innovation, inventiveness and potential opportunities hidden in overseas markets, especially in this challenging environment.
After the panel discussion, all the participants had the chance to mingle with each other to share their personal experiences and future aspirations. The attendees seemed to make the most of this rare opportunity, and many hoped to come back if there’s a similar chance some day. The Consulate hopes to continue to support this kind of ‘face-to-face’ business exchange in the expectation that two-way communications give both Japanese and non-Japanese business persons open-mindedness and the means to succeed in this increasingly competitive world economy.
On November 3rd, 2009, Professor Jeanette C. Takamura, Dean of the Columbia University School of Social Work was honored with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for her outstanding contributions to the promotion of social welfare policies and programs and the status of Japanese Americans. Prior to joining Columbia University in 2002, Dr. Takamura was an endowed professor at California State University - Los Angeles. From 1997 to 2001, Dr. Takamura was assistant secretary for aging at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before this, she was the first deputy (chief operating officer) of the Hawaii State Department of Health.
The conferment ceremony for Dean Takamura was held in New York on December 2nd at the official residence of Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya, the Japanese Consul-General in New York. Approximately 60 guests including her family and relatives from Hawaii, Seattle and L.A., friends and colleagues from academia, governmental and civil organizations, both senior leaders and younger members of the Japanese American communities in New York and Hawaii gathered to celebrate Dr. Takamura. During the ceremony, Ambassador Nishimiya praised her inspiring achievements in academia and public service at both local and national levels and her role as a high-profile example of the rich influence that Japanese Americans have in the American tapestry and the service they give to their communities and their country. A special guest, Mrs. Shimeji Kanazawa, founder of Project Dana of Hawaii, gave warm congratulatory remarks primarily praising her passion and achievements in betterment of lives of elders and their caregivers when she worked in both the Hawaii and Federal Governments. Congratulatory messages to her from United States Senator Daniel Inouye and former Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano were also read at the ceremony.
Dr. Takamura has led aging, health, long term care, and higher education programs in Hawaii, California, and New York. As a U.S. Senate confirmed Presidential appointee, she developed and administered federal aging policies and programs authorized by the Older Americans Act. In the aforementioned positions, she contributed to the promotion of health and social welfare in the U.S., primarily for older Americans and their family caregivers, including people of Japanese American ancestry. She is widely known for creating the design and proposal of the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which was enacted and signed into law in 2000 as a part of the reauthorized Older Americans Act.
Dr. Takamura has encouraged the social advancement of Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans through her example of achievement, including prominent positions in academia, government, as well as national organizations, boards, and commissions such as the American Society on Aging. For more than 30 years, she has identified, mentored, and developed promising younger individuals, among who were junior professionals and students, encouraging many of them to pursue higher education, to assume leadership positions in the public and private sectors, and then achieve noteworthy prominence for their own special contributions. Dr. Takamura has also played leading roles in the international sphere, collaborating on public policy and educational initiatives in a number of foreign countries. She worked with a Japan-based institution on global health issues and contributed to exchanges in Japan as a principal representative of the U.S. government and as an academic.
At the ceremony, Dean Takamura humbly accepted her award and said in her speech that this honor was “Okagesama-de” (thanks to others) and reminded that these achievements were rooted in the spirit of “Ganbare” (hang in) which her Japanese American community in Hawaii taught during her early childhood. She expressed her passion to contribute more in the areas of her expertise and to further the Japan-U.S. relationship.
On November 23rd, Ambassador and Mrs. Nishimiya invited West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, First Lady Gayle C. Manchin, and other senior state officials to attend a dinner meeting with top U.S.-based executives from 16 leading Japanese corporations and business organizations. The event, which took place at the Ambassador’s official residence, was intended to promote closer relations between the Mountain State and the Japanese business community by giving Governor Manchin and his staff the opportunity to speak with corporate executives in a relaxed setting.
It was the second meeting of this nature that the Consulate has organized for Governor Manchin. The first was held in September 2007. The Consulate also organized similar events for New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in February 2007 and Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell in June 2008.
Ambassador Nishimiya first met Governor Manchin and the First Lady in June, when they hosted a dinner for the Ambassador at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston. Ambassador Nishimiya also met with other governmental, corporate, and educational leaders in West Virginia during that visit.
At the November 23rd reception in New York, Governor Manchin began his remarks by noting that he and others in West Virginia’s political leadership – including U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and former Governor Gaston Caperton – have devoted much effort to cultivating ties with Japanese corporations. According to the Governor, there are now twenty Japanese companies operating in West Virginia and none of them were in the state twenty years ago. He also spoke about the similarities between workers in West Virginia and Japan, such as their loyalty to employers, and observed that his state’s employees are known as diligent and highly skilled. In addition, Governor Manchin explained the advantages of West Virginia’s low-cost business climate, its diversified economy, and its wealth of natural resources. He also emphasized his belief in creating partnerships between the state government and businesses.
After his introductory remarks, Governor Manchin and other state officials devoted much time to answering questions from the executives. Mr. Larry Puccio, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, and Ms. Kelley Goes, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Commerce, spoke about the importance of education and described some of the state’s initiatives to improve workforce development and to boost commercial innovation through university research. The Governor also fielded questions about the state’s labor pool, the transportation infrastructure, and environmental and energy issues, including the new ‘carbon capture & sequestration’ projects in West Virginia.
Next, Mr. Koichi Komatsu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi International Corporation, made a toast. This was followed by the dinner and informal discussion among the West Virginia officials, corporate executives, and Consulate staff.
The Consulate hopes to build on its close relationship with West Virginia officials in order to promote stronger economic ties between Japan and the Mountain State. The Consulate also plans to continue to organize meetings between other governors in its jurisdiction and members of the Japanese corporate community.
Director of JIC Mr. Sugiyama Speaks on Japan-US relations
On November 19th, Mr. Akira Sugiyama, Deputy Consul-General of Japan and Director of the Japan Information Center in New York visited Stony Brook University by the invitation of the Japan Center of the said university. He gave a speech on Japan-US Relations at an auditorium of the beautiful Charles B. Wang Center, which was filled by approximately 150 graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty members, including Ambassador Bhasin, Chair of the Asian and Asian American Studies Department.
Mr. Sugiyama explained the economic and foreign policies of the Japanese government under new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, referring to the results of Mr. Hatoyama’s participations in the United Nations General Assembly and the G20 Summit meeting in Pittsburgh in September, his policy speech before the Diet in October. He underlined what priority the new government of Japan attaches to the Japan-US Security Treaty, as well as to Japan-US close cooperation on most significant issues of the international community such as climate change, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, assistance to Afghanistan and development of East Asia. He also highlighted President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Japan. Mr. Sugiyama stressed that Japan-US relations would be strengthened by the mutual trust fostered over past years and the good personal relations established and developed between Prime Minister Hatoyama and President Obama.
In this context, the Director emphasized his firm conviction that Japan-US relations rests firmly on a strong foundation of grassroots diplomacy built with much effort over the years. He welcomed the remarkable boom of interest in Japanese culture in the US and talked about the fruits yielded by the implementation of the educational exchange programs sponsored by Japanese Government, such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) and the Monbukagakusho (Ministry of Education and Science) Scholarship programs.
Mr. Sugiyama informed everyone in attendance that the year of 2010 is the 150th anniversary of Japan’s first diplomatic mission to the US that was sent by the Tokugawa government in 1860. He noted that this event marked the very beginning of the cordial relationship between Japan and the US which is now the most important bilateral relationship in the world. He stressed his intention to make this fascinating historical episode better known to the American people, especially New Yorkers.
NARA 1300th Anniversary: Celebrate the First Capital of Japan
Ironically, due to its accessibility from Osaka and Kyoto, Nara,known for the house of the large Buddha statue and deer park scattered with tranquil ancient temples, the birthplace of the country, is not always depicted as a historically important destination in the United States. But in 2010, we can expect a change because the city will celebrate the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the very first national capital.
With full of ancient temples and capital architecture designed upon rich cultural elements from the ancient Chinese civilization, Nara is almost a live museum for Buddhism art pieces such as wooden statues, drawings and paintings. It is almost inevitable to compare Nara with Kyoto because of the proximity and the traditional and cultural attractions, but visitors should enjoy Nara’s vivid colors that differentiate the city from quieter Zen elements of Kyoto. Nara’s colorful designs come from employed from mandala, the ancient Buddhist description of the universe from the Continental Asia with Buddhism religion. Nara is also a live museum for Buddhism art fans: The city houses numerous ancient Buddhist statues, scrolls of prayers and paintings, accommodated in the more than 1000-years-old wooden architectures. The anniversary year introduces the unique historic elements of Nara to today’s global community. UNESCO designated this 1300 year old capital city and many historic buildings and art pieces in Nara as the UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage.
Nara Park, famous for many unleashed friendly deer that were considered as God’s messenger in the ancient time, houses Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the bright red painted large shrine, Todaiji Temple accompanied with the unforgettable Great Buddha Hall, housing a 57 feet high sitting Buddha statue. Kofukuji Temple, originally built in 669, stands high in the park with the five-story pagoda, houses multiple wooden sculptures of Buddhist figures and gods, all of which have been exclusively preserved and maintained as Japan’s national treasure. Nara National Museum is also the treasure box of ancient Buddhism art pieces, ancient Chinese bronze ware that were brought to Japan by early Japanese diplomats. This museum’s exhibitions are world’s top collection of Buddhism art.
The heart of the ancient capital still stands with power and architectural beauty: Heijokyo Palace is a large rectangular area with street-grids running straight for about 0.6 miles on each side. This center was founded in a very innovative urban planning for that time, which the early Japanese diplomat mission learned from the progressive and highly civilized China.
Horyuji Temple is the world’s oldest wooden structure remained to this day, and contains 48 Buddhist monuments in the vicinity, and among them the oldest is from the late 7th or early 8th century.
Stroll through the Local Life
Nara Machi, the neighborhood just out side of Nara Park, preserves old townscape of Nara in today’s modern Japan. With relaxing atmosphere of traditional machiya style townhouses and friendly hospitality and charming tradition that remain from the 17th century, the neighborhood is full of old traditional residential houses converted into chic café, retail stores, small shrines and galleries. The nostalgic Nara Machi area is the perfect cultural museum and the treasure hunting field for visitors.
One night stay in Nara would give you enough time to see Nara: However, Nara is accessible and convenient from Osaka and Kyoto (40 - 50 minutes by train), and a perfect destination to explore for both first timers and returning travelers.
Copyright © 2009 Japan National Tourism Organization
Japan Foundation, New York
The promotion of international cultural exchange and mutual understanding with other countries is an important part of Japan’s foreign policy. With this mission, the Japan Foundation (headquarters in Tokyo) has been playing an essential role since its establishment in 1972 as Japan’s leading public organization in this field. Its 21 overseas offices in 20 different countries are fostering greater awareness and understanding of Japan through a broad range of programs for individuals and institutions encompassing arts and culture, Japanese studies and intellectual exchange, and Japanese language education. In the United States, the Japan Foundation is represented by two offices in New York and in Los Angeles. This article explains about its New York office.
The Japan Foundation, New York administers programs nationwide for Japanese studies and Performing Arts Japan, as well as an arts and culture program geographically concentrated on the 37 states east of the Rocky Mountains, while the Los Angeles office administers Japanese language education nationwide and an arts and culture program for the 13 states west of the Rocky Mountains.
The New York office offers a myriad of grant programs in the general categories of arts and culture as well as Japanese studies promote greater US-Japan mutual understanding. In arts and culture, it offers grant programs for the visual arts, performing arts, and films and publications. The major grant program in this category, Performing Arts Japan (PAJ), provides financial assistance for non-profit organizations in the US and Canada that introduce performing arts to local audiences. In Japanese studies, it supports an extensive network of US researchers and students through grants, fellowships and survey. The Institutional Support Program (IPS) is a comprehensive grant program that provides colleges, universities and academic organizations that play a proactive role in Japanese studies with large grants. The Japan Foundation Fellowships enable scholars to develop their careers and establish leading roles in the field of Japanese studies in the US.
The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), established within the Foundation in 1991, is also located in New York. Seeking to promote exchange and collaboration between the US and Japan with the goal of fulfilling shared responsibilities and contributing to improvements in the world’s welfare, CGP is operating two main grant programs nationwide; Intellectual Exchange and Grassroots Exchange & Education. CGP’s Intellectual Exchange program seeks to create new networks and provide opportunities for advancing research and candid discussion of issues arising from transformation of societies through rapid globalization. The main grant program supports Japan-US collaborative policy-oriented projects pertaining to security and diplomacy, global and regional economic issues and the role of civil society. Abe Fellowship program is encouraging scholars and journalists to engage in international multidisciplinary research and coverage of topics of pressing global concern. CGP’s Grassroots Exchange and Education program promotes understanding of Japanese culture and society through several grant programs, including the Japan America Societies (JAS) Initiative, the Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) program, and small-scale Education grants supporting teacher training, curriculum development and community outreach efforts.
With the varied programs in diverse areas ranging from arts and culture, Japanese studies, intellectual exchange, to education, Japan Foundation, New York hopes to accomplish its mission of promoting international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and the US with your help. It is constantly seeking for partners to aid us in achieving our mission and welcome collaborative partnerships from all organizations that will work together with us to strengthen the US-Japan relationship.
Copyright © 2009 Japan Foundation, New York
The chilly winter has finally arrived and I hope that all of you have been healthy and are doing well. Nine months have passed since I arrived in New York last March and I am surprised that 2010 is already almost here. Time flies very quickly. As I look back at my life here, I am amazed at all of the important and exciting events that I experienced in 2009.
At the very beginning of my succession as Japanese Ambassador and Consul-General in New York, I declared that I would go out and meet as many people as I can and speak directly with them in every corner of every state that my responsibility covers. I believe that the relationship between the Consulate and the local community should be as “interactive” as possible. I have tried hard to achieve this and I am pleased to announce that I was able to visit a majority of the states which the Consulate-General serve.
Looking back at 2009, significant events such as my presentation of the Ambassador and Consul-General Award to Mr. Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP, all clearly and vividly remain in my memory. Above of all, I would like to point out that the first bilateral summit meeting between Prime Minister Hatoyama and President Obama took place during Prime Minister Hatoyama’s New York visit in September. Prime Minister Hatoyama stated to President Obama that the Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone for Japan’s foreign policy, and both leaders agreed to further deepen and develop the Japan-US alliance. This bodes well for the continuation and development of friendly Japan-US relations. Prime Minister Hatoyama also visited Japan Society and had an opportunity to exchange opinions directly with intellectuals in New York.
The year 2010 marks the significant 150th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the US and also its visit to New York. In 1860, the Tokugawa Shogunate government sent a delegation to exchange the instruments of ratification for the Japan-US Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1860. The Consulate-General of Japan in New York is vigorously planning to celebrate this historical event as an origin for the inauguration of Japan-US relations in cooperation with the local community.
I wish you a successful and Happy New Year!
Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan 2010
© KaseiTanaka and Courtesy of Artists
The koto, shamisen, and taiko are Japanese instruments used to play traditional Japanese music called hogaku. Although hogaku is not as popular as it once was in the past, a new generation of artists is reinvigorating it. On January 9, 2010, for the fifth consecutive year, the Japan Foundation and the Asia Society will present Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan 2010 which will explore contemporary music played by artists using the traditional hogaku instruments. TsuguKaji-KOTO (koto), OYAMA X NITTA (tsugaru shamisen), and HIDE & MIHO (percussion) will showcase their interpretations of hogaku using innovative techniques.
This special evening will provide the audience with a unique opportunity to see a performance featuring the koto, shamisen, and taiko. Already a very popular instrument in China, the koto was originally imported to Japan in the 7th to 8th century. When introduced to Japan, it had twelve strings but a thirteenth was added to the original. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), an influential composer, Miyagi Michio (1894-1956), invented the 17-string bass koto, and wrote over 300 works for the instrument. TsuguKaji-Koto, a duo formed eight years ago with Tsugumi Yamamoto and Ai Kajigano, use 13, 17, and 25-strings koto, blending vocals with instrumentals creating spiraling, enchanting music that bridges the traditional and contemporary worlds.
The shamisen is a three-stringed instrument that looks similar to a banjo. It originated in Okinawa in the mid-16th century, and its popularity soon spread throughout Japan. A more soulful version of shamisen music called tsugaru shamisen also known as "the blues of shamisen", originated in Aomori prefecture. Tsugaru shamisen uses thicker strings. Its players strike the strings very hard and fast to create this genre's raw, gritty sound. OYAMA x NITTA is a duo whose music has its roots in traditional tsugaru shamisen. Breaking free from the traditional style, their innovative performances have attracted a new audience for music created on this ancient instrument.
Many are familiar with taiko, Japanese drums. Percussionists HIDE & MIHO interpret Japanese taiko traditions in new ways. HIDE is one of the foremost players of the Japanese cymbal, chappa. Traditionally, the chappa is used as an accompaniment to the taiko, but Hide gives it center stage as a solo act.
This concert will be preceded by a 7 p.m. lecture featuring Takafumi Tanaka, an authority on Japanese traditional music and the founder of the monthly magazine Hogaku Journal.
©Courtesy of Artists
©Courtesy of Artists
©Courtesy of Artists
Courtesy of Janus Films
Calling all Kurosawa fans! The Akira Kurosawa Centennial Festival at the Film Forum featuring 29 films is scheduled for the four weeks starting Wednesday, January 6 and concluding February 4. Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the famed master filmmaker's birth, it is a rare opportunity to see his films back to back beginning with a nine-day showing of a new 35mm print of 1949's Stray Dog (Norainu). A screening of Ran (1985) follows the festival, running for two weeks beginning February 5.
Akira Kurosawa was film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor, who made 30 films over a 50-year career. One of most influential film directors in the world, he was born on March 23, 1910 in Tokyo, the youngest in eight children. He had studied to be an artist before he became involved in the film industry. In 1936, he was selected to be an assistant director to Kajiro Yamamoto as part of an apprentice program for film directors at a major film studio (which later became Toho). He made his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata in 1943.
Courtesy of Janus Films
Kurosawa's techniques have had a profound influence on directors around the world. His use of the telephoto lens to flatten the image, multiple cameras to create different angles in action scenes and use of the weather element to heighten the intensity of the mood are all examples of his innovations that have become an integral part of filmmaking everywhere. Winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Rashomon (1950) made Kurosawa and Japanese films popular throughout world.
Stray Dog (1949) is Kurosawa's early film noir masterpiece, starring the great Toshiro Mifune as young detective Murakami on the hunt for his stolen gun. The search becomes desperate when Murakami learns of the gun being used in a murder. The film is fraught with gripping suspense and moral complexity, as Murakami searches for his gun and the killer.
Toshiro Mifune who had his breakout role in Drunken Angels (1948) was his favorite collaborator, appearing in sixteen Kurosawa films including Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Yojinbo (1961), and Akahige (1965).
Tickets for Stray Dog will be available on December 30 online. Tickets for other Kurosawa films will be available one week prior to the play date (for example: tickets for Thorn Blood which will start on 1/15 will go on sale on 1/8) . Tickets for Ran, which will start on February 5, will be available on line on January 29. For more information on the film schedule, please visit, http://www.filmforum.org/films/kurosawa.html.
Courtesy of Janus Films