International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security


aka USJC

Washington, DC


The U.S.-Japan Council is a Japanese American-led organization fully dedicated to strengthening ties between the United States and Japan in a global context. By promoting people-to-people relationships through its innovative programs in networking and leadership, the Council serves as a catalyst to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations. It develops the next generation of leaders committed to a vibrant and dynamic relationship.

Ruling Year



Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye

Executive Vice President & COO

Ms. Suzanne Basalla

Main Address

1819 L Street, NW Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036 USA


U.S.-Japan, Japan, Exchange, Business, Government, Youth, People to People





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Promotion of International Understanding (Q20)

International Cultural Exchange (Q21)

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference

TOMODACHI Initiative

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Charting Impact

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We aim to contribute to a vibrant and dynamic U.S.-Japan relationship in which increasing positive and productive bilateral cooperation benefits both countries and the Asia Pacific region. We seek to increase the number and diversity of leaders committed to the relationship and who are actively supporting U.S.-Japan cooperation. We believe more diverse stakeholders can better address misunderstandings, identify and act on new opportunities, and broaden public support for this strategically important relationship. We seek to serve as a catalyst for new collaborations in business, government, and civil society to support greater opportunities for the United States and Japan. We administer the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, as one of our major programs. Because of our origins as an organization formed by Japanese American leaders, we retain a focus on actively engaging Japanese American leaders. At the same time, our mission is to involve leaders from different sectors, ages, genders, backgrounds, and locations, regardless of heritage. We have a particular interest in engaging women leaders; next generation leaders; entrepreneurial & innovative leaders; and leaders outside the traditional halls of power and capitals as we believe that these leaders have much more to contribute to U.S.-Japan relations than is currently tapped. We also seek to support Japan's Tohoku region, youth, and non-profit sector, reflecting our roots in a strong and sustained commitment to recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the value we place on building on the U.S.-Japan cooperation after the Earthquake. The TOMODACHI Initiative connects young Americans and Japanese with each other and each other's country in ways that will encourage continued engagement in the relationship over their lifetimes. We seek to reach younger students (high school and younger) who may have had minimal previous exposure, university students with a developing interest in cross-cultural opportunities, and young professionals from diverse sectors (generally 35 years old and younger) with strong leadership potential who are open to a more global experience. Through a series of programs that offer academic, cultural, and leadership activities, we provide transformative experiences that lead participants to gain a more global mindset, appreciate the U.S-Japan relationship, and find ways to contribute to strengthening people-to-people ties between the two countries in their current capacities and as future leaders. Over the long-term, our goal is a generation with more cross-cultural leaders who have a commitment to strengthening the relationship. By bringing together public and private sectors to invest together creatively in young people, we are also bringing a new energy to the U.S.-Japan relationship, creating dynamic cross-generational learning, and heightening public support for the relationship in both countries.

USJC promotes people-to-people relationships to inspire and engage Japanese and Americans of all generations. The organization is comprised of leaders with an interest in U.S.-Japan relations, active in educational and networking programs that leverage their expertise and resources. We link to government, community, and political leaders; among educational institutions, corporations, and government organizations; and among like-minded individuals. These networks allow us to help set and realize a positive agenda in U.S.-Japan relations through a combination of educational programming, networking activities, and social media discussions. We reach beyond traditional networks to bring in diverse leaders. We engage and expand these networks through high-quality, life-transforming experiences in U.S.-Japan relations. We then follow-up with participants of these programs to deepen their engagement, creating a continuum of experiences that appeal to their continued commitment and engagement, transforming them from observers to participants to leaders in the relationship. This is particularly robust in our TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership with the U.S. government that engages youth from both countries in a full spectrum of activities from exposure to inspiration, and eventually to development as cross-cultural leaders through over 50 distinct TOMODACHI educational, cultural, and leadership programs for young people. To develop programs, we work with non-profit implementers. Cooperation may be co-branding, partial funding, or full-funding of programs. By exception, we will serve as lead implementer for programs that lack an obvious implementer and are core to our mission, using staff and contract support. We use social media to stay engaged with participants, and find ways to continue to engage them through follow-up on programs, alumni activities, cross-program interactions, connecting them with donors, and activities to create a sense of community. Finally, we invest in creating a “brand" around TOMODACHI, adding a fun, energetic buzz to build excitement that attracts more donors, allows more successful recruitment, and generates positive public support. Tied to this initiative is our strategy to grow in Japan, making USJC a non-profit that has the infrastructure to meet the needs of stakeholders from both countries, whether located in Japan or in the States. To supplement these strategies, we aim to increase awareness and positive views in both countries of the contributions of the Japanese American community and Japanese American leaders in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, while supporting new opportunities to increase Japanese American leadership and contributions. This strategy allows us to sustain future generations of leaders who may come to the relationship through ties of heritage, but will stay engaged in the relationship for the broader benefits and incentives of USJC's networking and programming.

USJC has over 520 Members, individuals who are leaders (including a cohort of emerging leaders) who give their time, expertise, and resources to help us accomplish our mission. These Members are supplemented by active, highly-prestigious members of Boards of Directors and Boards of Councilors (72 leaders from both countries). USJC has infrastructure to support activities in both the United States and Japan, offering flexibility that few other organizations offer. We are led by an accomplished and recognized non-profit leader supported by a talented, committed staff with a range of experience and skills; 16 U.S.-based full-time staff and Japan-based support through contract, shared-services, and part-time support. USJC is the private-sector partner with the U.S. government for the TOMODACHI Initiative, a vehicle for engaging corporate, government, civil society, education, and other institutional partners in Japan and the United States to support young people in both countries, benefiting from the additional reach of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and supporters elsewhere in both governments. To support implementation, a separate organization, U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was established as a tax-exempt organization capable of receiving tax-deductible contributions in Japan. USJC (J) has seven staff assigned to the Tokyo office. Through TOMODACHI's success, we have raised over $43 million to enable scores of unique programs for 20,000+ participants since inception. Many of these program alumni remain engaged, deepening the networks and creating a “movement" towards the creation of a TOMODACHI generation of leaders (a phrase coined by then Secretary Hillary Clinton). The relationships developed through the TOMODACHI Initiative supplement the strong ties USJC enjoys with the Government of Japan, its Embassy and Consulates through its long-time involvement (predating its establishment as USJC) as the administrator of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation and the Ambassador, Consuls General and Japanese American Leaders Meeting on behalf of the Government of Japan. USJC enjoys the support of a number of leading companies in both countries, as well as significant pro-bono professional services. USJC also has very flexible and innovative programs, especially with our proven model of branded strategic partnerships under the TOMODACHI Initiative as well as significant grant-making ability under TOMODACHI. Beyond TOMODACHI, USJC's programming has also been flexible, taking advantage of new opportunities in the relationship around innovative partners and ideas. USJC has successfully developed its first endowed scholarship program, thanks to a generous individual donor's gift in late 2015. This new program enables a certain number of Japanese undergraduates with great financial need to study abroad in the U.S. for a one-year period at the institution of their choice.

The Board of Directors is organized into several Board Committees that provide oversight and review and report to the Board on progress. The Board adopted a three-year strategic plan with goals established for key organizational areas. We monitor several quantitative indicators. In the programmatic area, goals are set for each of our major programs. Through our Program Development Committee, we review programs that are planned and administered against their goals and accomplishments. We assess programs through post-event surveys, event-specific assessments, and demand for/interest in new programs. Based on the feedback, changes are incorporated in future programs. When we contract with other organizations to implement programs (as is the case in many TOMODACHI programs), we monitor and review narrative and financial reports, supplemented by universal participant surveys. Other measures of progress are analytics that indicate social media engagement, as well as traditional media coverage. These findings are discussed within a Communications Committee, and progress is viewed against annual goals. Another area of assessment is the makeup of and involvement of our Membership. We look at overall growth, balance, diversity, and retention. We assess Members' (including Corporate Members) participation in events, recruitment of other members, and social media engagement to ensure we are building a strong foundation of leaders for the future. These findings are discussed with a Membership Committee that adjusts recruitment and engagement strategies. An important measure of success is our ability to meet or exceed annual development goals. We look at aggregate numbers, as well as growth, diversity, and continuity of donors against annual targets, which are reported to the Development Committee. On the qualitative side, we see progress every time important stakeholders in U.S.-Japan relations turn to USJC as a key “go to" organization. Public praise for USJC as well as regular calls for advice and access to our network from State Department, both Embassies, Congress and Diet members, and business leaders point to our relevance. Also, we measure success by new partnerships, collaborations, expanded capacity, and self-sustained programs created through TOMODACHI grants. Donors' decisions to continue to fund programs are another clear measure of confidence in our ability to achieve impact. Ultimately, we know we are making progress when the United States and Japan enjoy positive relations; similarly, we recognize that problems in the relationship (especially when they lead to bad relations that can spill over into U.S. politics or society) are negative indicators, and we see them as warnings that we need to redouble and redirect our efforts to make desired progress.

We have sustained a constant, high level of growth, reflected in successful and expanding fundraising, staffing, programming, and impact. The Government of Japan chooses us to administer the Japanese American Leadership Delegation and the Ambassador and Consuls General Dialogue with Japanese American Leaders. The U.S. government selected us to be their partner in the innovative public-private partnership, TOMODACHI, which has continued to raise significant funds, running 50 programs a year, and involved over 20,000 young people, receiving public praise from the President and Prime Minister, who has increased his government's formal support to the program as of March, 2016 and named a senior advisor from the government to TOMODACHI. . As the Embassy's choice for TOMODACHI, USJC has grown its networks and infrastructure in Japan, making it one of the few non-profits able to operate effectively in both countries. Each year, our Annual Conference grows in sophistication, reach, and impact (~850 participants in 2015), continuing to draw top leaders from both countries as speakers and attendees, and enjoying high rates of Membership and Board participation. USJC has been at the forefront of new focus areas in the relationship, from women in leadership to high-speed rail to entrepreneurship, and to regional economic development. Recently we have focused on these themes with the creation of our Silicon Valley Japan Platform. We are the leading U.S.-Japan organization engaging all generations, with a strong pipeline of next generation leaders that we actively mentor.
Looking ahead, we would like to better articulate the human stories behind the relationship and the importance of investing in people-to-people connections Our Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship programs have tapped into a vein of interest and opportunity, and now we are identifying ways to leverage our network and resources in the region to implement events focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, increase networking opportunities between Japanese businesses and Silicon Valley institutions, foster joint research and development in core fields and that play to the strengths of both Japan and the Silicon Valley, highlight expanding media coverage of Silicon Valley in Japan, and host official visits to Silicon Valley by influential Japanese leaders. We will hold USJC's 2017 Annual Conference in Washington, DC this November to discuss how we can celebrate diversity and work together to accomplish shared goals. Finally, we seek to broaden our appeal to and engagement with other diverse Americans and Japanese to ensure a strong bilateral foundation in the future. To this end, we are enhancing USJC's regional structure to enable stronger networks in each region of the country and increase local programming for Council Leaders and other stakeholders.

External Reviews




Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity