January 2024 Issue

TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program 2.0 Participants Present their Project Results

On December 3, 2023, the TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program 2.0 commencement event was held in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture. Approximately 60 people, including 17 students(16 high school students, and 1 university student) from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures who participated in the program, joined the event. The students presented what they learned during their 3 weeks abroad at UC Berkeley alongside how they applied their learnings to their projects after coming back to Japan.

The program aims to have participants gain leadership skills to encourage change in their region’s community. Participants studied at UC Berkeley in a custom designed program based on the Y-PLAN, which is a civic learning strategy developed by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools (CC+S) for three weeks in July and August. With interactions with local entrepreneurs and students, the participants were able to envision an action plan relating to challenges in the Tohoku region.

Returning to Japan, the participants went forward with their local projects with the support of local mentors. Participants each presented their project’s content, planning, challenges they encountered during execution, how they overcame hardships, how they are planning to
overcome their next steps, etc. Read More>>

TOMODACHI Story Jam for Youth with Disabilities Celebrates Youth With Disabilities’ Advocacy Story Videos

Ten participants of the TOMODACHI Story Jam for Youth with Disabilities  successfully completed the program. TOMODACHI Story Jam for Youth with Disabilities, a nine-week (September–November) digital storytelling and youth leadership program, brought together 10 Japanese and American youth with disabilities to share their experiences of overcoming challenges.

The program was supported by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) and implemented by the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI). Participants were selected based on their leadership experience and engaging story proposals. They engaged in weekly Story Jam sessions, discussing moments when they faced significant challenges, how they navigated these challenges, what they learned about themselves, and how their insights and experiences can translate into positive change for themselves and their community. 

Guest speakers, including disabled storytellers and advocates from Japan and the U.S., enriched the discussions. The program culminated in the screening of the participants’ four-minute advocacy story videos at a final event on November 2 (US) / November 3 (Japan).
Read More>>

TOMODACHI Boeing Entrepreneurship Seminar 2023 In-person event held in Kansai

In a gathering of intellect and creativity, the TOMODACHI Boeing Entrepreneurship Seminar 2023 took place in the ancient city of Kyoto on November 5, 2023. This momentous occasion brought together ten visionary participants hailing from Kyushu, Kansai, Chubu, and Kanto, marking a vibrant return to in-person gatherings post-pandemic.

The seminar’s inaugural segment set ablaze a fervor for exploration and originality through an immersive fieldwork experience centered around the captivating theme of analogical thinking. Participants were asked to delve deep into the fabric of cities, people, and their intrinsic uniqueness, fostering a toolbox for novel ideas to take root and flourish within their individual projects. Read More>>

TOMODACHI-STEM Women’s Leadership and Research Program 2023-24 Kicks Off

The TOMODACHI-STEM Women’s Leadership and Research Program 2023-24 participants have successfully completed their two-week virtual program, led by Lehigh University and Rice University. This program enables students to gain real world experience with science and engineering research, introduces them to U.S. higher education, and provides opportunities for career exploration, English language enrichment, cultural engagement, and collaboration with U.S. students.

This two-week virtual program hosted by Lehigh University centered on English language enrichment and team building. Read More>>

TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go For Gold Sports Leadership Program 1st Orientation in Tokyo

On December 10, 2023, TOMODACHI - U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Sports Leadership Program’s participants from all over Japan gathered in Tokyo for the first in-person orientation. They will go to the United States for two weeks in February to learn about facility management, community engagement and sports management business in Los Angeles and New York. Read More>>


The TOMODACHI Initiative proudly honored Michael Lerch at the USJC recent Annual Conference in Washington DC.  Mr. Lerch, who is the founder and CIO of the Evolution Financial Group, is our inaugural Major Gift donor through the TOMODACHI Initiative. 

To learn more about his story and how TOMODACHI has made an impact on next generation leaders, click here.

Applications Open for the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program 2024

The application for the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program 2024 is open now. Please click below to download the application materials.

This scholarship is offered to undergraduate students, who will take part in the study abroad programs offered at 12 partner universities, including Hokkaido University, Tohoku University, University of Tokyo, Keio University, Waseda University, Chuo University, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, Doshisha University, Osaka University, Kyushu University and the University of the Ryukyus.

Please note that all forms are only available in Japanese.
Click here to learn more about the TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program.

Application Open for the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework 2024-2025

With just over 10,000 alumni who have come out of over 350 TOMODACHI programs since inception, it can be a challenge to reach everyone. Still, the power of the TOMODACHI Generation is the network and the high engagement of youth and young professionals who are inspired to stay connected and become active leaders in their respective communities and regions, and of society as a whole.
The TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework is a big part of this structure as it aims to ensure that we are reaching our alumni by having representatives across Japan and in the United States. Japan will be split into regions that coincide with the U.S. Consulate jurisdictions across Japan and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. We expanded to the United States for the first time in 2022, which provided opportunities for alumni in the United States to stay engaged in the TOMODACHI Generation.
In order to support this framework, we have developed roles and responsibilities for Regional Representatives and Core Committee members to lead, engage, and connect alumni in their respective regions and to be active leaders in their regions for a more vibrant future for their communities and countries. Read More>>

TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework : Workshop at the 2023 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference

On November 7, 2023, a three-hour workshop was held at the U.S.-Japan Council’s headquarters in Washington D.C. The main objective was to elevate the alumni engagement initiatives, ensuring they are more meaningful, impactful, and aligned with the broader goals of TOMODACHI. Five Regional Representatives and four Core Committee members from six regions of the U.S. and Japan participated in the workshop.

The workshop included a digital marketing and online community management workshop, conducted by a guest speaker, Ashley Brannan, Senior Channel Advancement Lead from Community Boost, a digital marketing agency that works with nonprofits to accelerate online revenue and impact. She addressed the consistent challenges identified by the Regional Reps on how to reach and engage alumni effectively by emphasizing the significance of personalized and data-driven marketing, experimenting with emerging trends, and utilizing technology to enhance marketing efforts. Read More>>

TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework: Hokkaido Regional Event

On December 5th, 2023, the Hokkaido TOMODACHI alumni convened in Sapporo for a holiday gala that boasted an eclectic mix of attendees, spanning the gamut from precocious high schoolers to seasoned professionals. Amongst this esteemed gathering were luminaries such as Yasuko Terashita, Public Engagement Coordinator from the US Consulate in Sapporo – all gracing the occasion as respected special guest.

During this convivial gathering, the alumni espoused their discerning perspectives on Hokkaido’s challenges, the evolving workplace mindset, and the propensities and circumstances surrounding the younger generation’s pursuit of international education.

Reflecting on her professional working environment, Chieri Hayakawa, an alumna of the TOMODACHI Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program, remarked with poignant insight, "My workplace lacks contemporaries; thus, I've seamlessly collaborated with senior team members or mentored the budding juniors. The TOMODACHI program offered a pivotal juncture to engage in profound dialogues with peers of my generation - an invaluable experience indeed." 
Read More>>


On December 7, 2023 at Shibuya, Tokyo, the USJC and TOMODACHI Initiative co-hosted the first ever, end of the year bash, Bonenkai.

This event fostered invaluable connections across generations, uniting 73 TOMODACHI alumni and members of the USJC Japan Region for collaborative opportunities.The night was hosted by the Regional Representative of Tohoku, Rimpei Takahashi along with the Director of Programs Kaoru Utada. The event started off with a message from Executive Director Mark Ikeno, cheering for the upcoming new year!

Q&A with TOMODACHI Program Participants and TOMODACHI Alumni: ʻĀlika Guerrero

For this interview, we talked with ʻĀlika Guerrero, an alumnus of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program 2016. ʻĀlika is a teacher of Hawaiian language, culture, and history at Kamehameha Schools Maui, a school for native Hawaiian students.

He recently published his first book “No nā Akua Hula: He Kālailaina o nā Mele Pule i Pili iā Kapo lāua ʻo Laka”, and his goal is to contribute to the efforts of keeping the Hawaiian native language alive and active.
Read More>>

TOMODACHI Opportunities 

Interns, U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) & TOMODACHI Initiative (remote)
The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) & TOMODACHI Initiative are currently seeking interns. The internship offers an exciting environment where interns will be exposed to the non-profit, corporate, and government fields simultaneously. Responsibilities include creating and drafting documents, translation, website management, social media management, newsletter development support, public speaking, communication with program participants, designing presentations and posters, and event planning and operations. Interns generally work remotely, but may be asked to assist with in-person events as needed.
Please note that this internship is unpaid.
For more information and to apply, click here.

Social Media Intern, TOMODACHI Initiative Alumni (remote)
The Social Media Intern will assist the Director of Programs and Partnerships for the U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Alumni Coordinator in the area of social media and other marketing and communications for the TOMODACHI Initiative Alumni Leadership Program as needed.  Reports to the Director of Programs and Partnerships for the U.S.-Japan Council. This position requires conveying and dispersing information from TOMODACHI Alumni Affairs to the TOMODACHI alumni community, as well as the broader U.S.-Japan Council community. 
For more information, click here.
Please send applications to alumni@usjapancouncil.org.
Program Intern, TOMODACHI Initiative Alumni (remote)
The Program Intern will assist the Director of Programs and Partnerships for the U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Alumni Coordinator in the area of programming for the TOMODACHI Initiative Alumni Leadership Program. Reports to the Director of Programs and Partnerships for the U.S.-Japan Council. This position requires conveying and dispersing information from TOMODACHI Alumni Affairs to the TOMODACHI alumni community, as well as the broader U.S.-Japan Council community. 
For more information, click here.
Please send applications to alumni@usjapancouncil.org.


Update from Team TOMODACHI - January 2024

For donors, supporters, and friends of the TOMODACHI Initiative and the TOMODACHI Generation.

Led by the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. TOMODACHI invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs.