U.S. Embassy Tokyo and the U.S. Japan-Council’s TOMODACHI Initiative launched the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) in Tokyo and Kansai in 2013 and expanded to two more cities in 2014. This ten-month mentorship program pairs highly-motivated Japanese female university students with Japanese female mid-career professionals to encourage networking among a select corps of Japanese women who show promise as Japan’s next generation of leaders. Participants attend regular group sessions hosted by the U.S. Embassy that provide training in leadership development and financial empowerment and provide opportunities for personal growth and networking. Participants are also invited to attend special seminars with members of government and business leaders. Student participants are also offered the opportunity to visit Washington, DC and New York City for a nine-day study trip.
2016-2017 TMWLP: Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, and Sapporo
Over a ten-month period, highly motivated Japanese women university students in Tokyo, Osaka, Naha and Sapporo will hone their leadership skills by attending regular group sessions hosted by the U.S. Embassy that provide training in leadership development, as well as a financial empowerment session by MetLife Japan. The students are also paired with female mid-career professionals as mentors to have one-on-one support and networking opportunities. Both mentors and mentees are invited to attend exclusive seminars and events with members of government and business leaders during the program. In March 2017, the mentees will visit Washington, D.C. and New York for a week long study trip.
The TMWLP was originally held in Tokyo and Osaka and expanded to Naha and Fukuoka by 2016. In the three-year period from 2013 to 2016, a total of 238 women (119 women university students and 119 mentors) participated in the programs. Building on the program’s success over the past three years, MetLife has decided to extend its sponsorship for TMWLP with the addition of Sapporo as a host location starting in 2016.
TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program Schedule
(Dates are subject to change)
2015-2016 TMWLP: Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha
The TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program is a ten-month mentorship program which pairs highly-motivated Japanese female university students with female mid-career professionals to encourage networking. From 2015-2016, a total of 92 mentors and mentees were selected from Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha, and participated in five leadership sessions.
In April 2016 as a part of the program, mentees from Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha were invited to visit Washington, DC and New York City to meet with business leaders, government officials, and nonprofit leaders.
The following Leadership Sessions were held in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Naha:
- Making the Most of Your Match: How to Build a Mentoring Relationship
- Financial Literacy – Becoming Independent
- Leading From Your Strengths – Self Leadership
- Leading From Your Strengths – Building Networking Capital
- Building Women’s Leadership Confidence Through Awareness & Action
From March 22-30, 2016, the TMWLP mentees traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders from various industries and to learn about different perspectives on women in the workforce. In small groups they visited different organizations, companies and government officials. The group then traveled to New York for meetings at MetLife headquarters, where they presented policy proposals for improving women’s empowerment. Read More>>
TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program Annual Conference 2016
On April 24, 2016, the 2015-2016 TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) participants from Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha gathered in Tokyo for the capstone conference. The mentors and mentees were joined by MetLife executives for a total of over 140 who took part in the one-day inspirational event. The mentors and mentees celebrate their accomplishments and reflect on the last ten months while focusing on where the future will take them.
The second year of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program kicked off in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha in summer 2014 with eighty-two participants. Expanding to two new locations, the applicant pool for participants was larger, more diverse, and more competitive than the previous year. Participants of the 2014-2015 program represent a broad range of student majors and professional backgrounds, including science, health, business, journalism, foreign policy, and academia. Program participants will attend five meetings from June 2014 to February 2015 that will focus on topics including personal development, leadership training, networking skills, and financial literacy.
TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program – U.S. Trip
The TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program mentees participated in the annual U.S. Trip to Washington, DC and New York City from March 20 to 30, 2015. The program was designed to showcase women leaders in the US while inspiring and empowering the young participants. While in Washingotn, D.C., the 38 women met with individuals like Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2) and leaders of a number of organizations, including the U.S. Department of State and the American Association of University Women. More>>
TWMLP Annual Conference 2015
On May 30, 2015, 82 Japanese female leaders gathered at the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya, full of energy and excitement. They celebrated their accomplishments and reflected with their peers, mentors and mentees with special guest, Japan’s First Lady Mrs. Akie Abe on their last ten months as participants of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program. More>>
As the capstone to the 10-month TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program in Tokyo and Osaka, twenty-five female Japanese university students traveled to the United States from March 22-31, 2014 for a visit showcasing examples of how American women achieve success in the modern economy. The program was designed to foster the leadership skills of Japanese women with the ultimate goals of advancing women’s economic empowerment and deepening Japan’s appreciation for American culture and ideals.
Voices of the TOMODACHI Generation
Several of the mentees who had been selected for the 2013-2014 TOMODACHI Women’s Leadership Program attended the Women in Business Summit, hosted by the U.S.-Japan Council and the American Chamber of Commerce Japan (ACCJ) on May 27, 2013. Find out what they learned at the summit:
“The summit really widen my perspective and changed my future.”
– Miho Tagai from Showa Women’s University
“The summit made my conception toward working turn 180 degrees around and I have found a purpose to achieve.”
– Yuki Ono from Hosei University
“I was highly motivated to develop my leadership skills as a woman.”
– Shoko Oniki from Soka University
Find out what the participants learned from the overall program:
“Leadership is not the power to lead others but the power to inspire and motivate others. I strongly believe that we, the TOMODACHI generation, can take true leadership: to inspire others to share the same vision as us, and make a great difference in the future of the United States, Japan and the world.”
– Asuka Kobayashi from Keio University
“We’ve learned through this visit to the United States that anything is possible. The United States and Japan may be different. But don’t you worry. When we say “you” we mean Americans and Japanese, men and women, young and old. Don’t worry about us because we are the future of Japan. In 50 years, our grandchildren will look back and say that their grandmothers were part of the TOMODACHI generation that changed Japan.”
– Kana Takagi from Keio University
“During the trip I experienced a lot and learned a lot. Nothing was more fun than forming ideas and making action from a clean sheet of paper. Back in Japan, positive changes are happening to me. I have a clear feeling that anywhere I go, this experience will always give me the drive to go forward without being afraid.”
– Misato Oi from Kyoto University
“Every session was inspiring and I learned a lot of important things. These eight days were really meaningful and I will never forget them.”
– Haruka Satake from Ritsumeikan University