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.
2017-2018 TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program
U.S. Embassy Tokyo and the TOMODACHI Initiative, with dedicated support by MetLife Japan, launched the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) in 2013 with the objective to develop the next generation of globally active women leaders. The program aims to equip women with 21st century leadership skills, self-confidence, and the network required to successfully navigate their leadership journey in an ever-changing world. Through the year-long program, highly-motivated Japanese women university students work to hone their leadership skills. The students attend regular group sessions hosted by the U.S. Embassy that provide training in leadership development and financial empowerment by MetLife Japan. The students are also paired with female mid-career professionals as mentors to have one-on-one support and networking opportunities. Mentees also visit Washington, D.C. and New York for a weeklong study trip. Throughout the program mentees and mentors are invited to attend special seminars with members of government and business leaders.
The TMWLP was originally held in Tokyo and Osaka and has expanded to include Naha, Fukuoka, and Sapporo on a rotating basis. The program is held in four cities each year. The 2017-2018 TMWLP program will be held in Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, and Fukuoka. In the four-year period from 2013 to 2017, a total of 338 women (169 women university students and 169 mentors) have taken part.
MENTEE (Student): 2017-2018 TMWLP Student Application FormCLOSED
- MENTOR (Professional): 2017-2018 TMWLP Mentor Application Form
The deadline for mentor applications has been extended. Please submit your applications via email by July 10, 2017 to your local TMWLP email address:
Tokyo Area: Submit applications to: TokyoTMWLP@usjapancouncil.org
Osaka Area: Submit applications to: KansaiTMWLP@usjapancouncil.org
Fukuoka Area: Submit applications to: KyushuTMWLP@usjapancouncil.org
Naha Area: Submit applications to: OkinawaTMWLP@usjapancouncil.org
Accepted participants will be notified by August 14, 2017.
For more information on the TMWLP, click here
Information for Mentees
Eligibility & Selection Process
All participants must be Japanese citizens or permanent residents; available for the entire program; fluent in spoken English; and interested in networking with other women, advancing women in the workforce, and making a positive change in Japanese society.
Eligibility for Student Participants
- Female first, second, and third year undergraduate students attending universities in Japan
- Speak, read, and write in English
- Demonstrated potential to play a leadership role in the future
- Must be able to attend all program sessions, the entire U.S. Trip, and the Annual Conference in Tokyo
Information for Mentors
Eligibility & Selection Process
All participants must be Japanese citizens or U.S. citizens with permanent residency in Japan; available for the entire program; fluent in spoken English; and interested in networking with other women, advancing women in the workforce, and making a positive change in Japanese society.
Eligibility for Professional Participants
- Female mid-level professionals (9+ years professional experience)
- Professionals with overseas educational/work experience are strongly encouraged to apply
- Open to all industries and sectors (including private, non-profit, government and academic)
- Committed to developing the next generation of women leaders by serving as a mentor and meet on a regular basis with your mentee
- Must be able to attend all program sessions and the Annual Conference in Tokyo
TMWLP Program Sessions
(Dates are subject to change)
Session 1: Friday, September 15, 2017
Session 2: Friday, October 20, 2017
Session 3: Friday, October 27, 2017
Session 4: Friday, November 17, 2017
Session 5: Thursday, February 8, 2018
Session 1: Friday, September 22, 2017
Session 2: Friday, October 13, 2017
Session 3: Friday, November 10, 2017
Session 4: Friday, December 8, 2017
Session 5: Friday, January 26, 2018
Session 1: Friday, September 1, 2017
Session 2: Friday, October 6, 2017
Session 3: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Session 4: Friday, December 1, 2017
Session 5: Friday, February 2, 2018
Session 1: Friday, September 29, 2017
Session 2: Friday, October 27, 2017
Session 3: Friday, November 24, 2017
Session 4: Friday, December 15, 2017
Session 5: Friday, February 23, 2018
March 20-29, 2018: Mentees travel to the United States. The program will cover travel and lodging.
May 26-27, 2018: Mentors and mentees attend the capstone TMWLP Annual Conference in Tokyo. The program will cover travel and lodging for those participating in cities outside of Tokyo.
2016-2017 TMWLP: Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, and Sapporo
From March 21 – 29, 2017 a select group of 50 female Japanese undergraduate university students from Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, and Sapporo traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City to meet with influential women leaders as part of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program.
In Washington, D.C., the mentees (participants) met with female leaders from the government, corporate, nonprofit, and entrepreneurship sectors, including: Congressman Joaquin Castro; Susan Greenwell, Senior Vice President and Head of International Government Relations at MetLife; Eileen Pennington, Asia Foundation Associate Director; and Vanessa Kerry, Co-founder and CEO of Seed Global Health. On March 26, the mentees (participants) traveled to New York City, where they interacted with students and faculty from Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Columbia University, and participated in full day of activities at the headquarters of MetLife Insurance Company USA. They heard from Esther Lee, MetLife’s Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer, and Irene Inouye Hirano, President of the U.S.-Japan Council. Read More >>
TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program Annual Conference 2017
On May 28, 2017, the 2016-2017 TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program (TMWLP) participants from Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, and Sapporo gathered in Tokyo for the capstone annual conference. Over 140 people attended this inspirational one-day event, which reached a broad audience that included program mentors and mentees, USJC representatives, MetLife leaders, and U.S. Embassy representatives. Read More>>
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