To honor the life and legacy of Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced the award of 200 exchanges to the U.S.-Japan Council on May 28, 2013 at the U.S.-Japan Cou n cil’s Sym p osiu m in Tokyo. These ten-day exchange visits are part of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Japan’s (MOFA) KAKAEHASHI Project –The Bridge for Tomorrow. The KAKEHASHI Project is a fully-funded, large-scale youth exchange p rogram between Japan and the United States aimed at heightening potential interest in Japan and increasing the number of overseas visitors to the country, as well as enhancing international understanding of the ‘‘Japan brand,’’ or the nation ’s strengths and attractiveness. The p roject is also anticipated to revitalize and boost the Japanese economy. The U.S.-Japan Council worked closely with MOFA and the Japan Foundation to create opportunities during the visit for unique program content highlighting the legacy of Senator Inouye. Funding p rovided by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute grant, the U.S.-Japan Council was able to draw on the expertise of its membership to support the design and development of a thematic framework centering on Senator Inouye’s contributions and legacy. The funds made possible d irect financial support to the U.S. schools as well as allowed for coordination and development of curriculum and materials that the U.S. and Japanese universities could use in their implementation of the excahnges.
The four U.S. schools selected to participate in the invitation portion of the exchange were DePaul University (Chicago), Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles), University Massachusetts, Boston and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Each of the U.S. universities traveled to Japan under a theme inspired by a dimension of the Senator’s legacy such as diversity and leadership; multicultural identity and community service; the Japanese American experience, advocacy and public service. For most of the U.S. students, in addition to this trip being their first contact with Japan, it was also their first time learning about the Senator. The final reports, blog posts, reflection and final p rojects clearly show the impact this p rogram had on students’ academic and p rofessional interests as well as their personal development. In many, it sparked an interest in learning more about Japan and a desire to return to Japan for work or study abroad . The Senator’s legacy inspired others to think about their future as leaders, how to be conscientious members of a global community and ways they can contribute their time and talents in service to others in the future.
In addition to bringing new voices and fu ture leaders into the U.S.-Japan relationship, this p rogram has strengthened as well as created new institutional partnerships between American and Japanese universities among colleagues within their academic fields, not just through international study or study abroad centers. These partnerships, based on people-to-people relationships have the potential to expand university capacities in both nations to increase the numbers of international students coming for academic study, thus contributing to the US and Japanese government’s lon g term ed u cation al in tern ation alization goals. The success of the exchanges this summer make u s enthusiastic and excited for the visits by the Japanese students to the United States, in March 2015. We at the U.S.-Japan Council look forward to welcoming the 100 Japanese visitors to Washington, DC where the Senator spent much of his p rofessional life serving in the United States Congress, as well as host cities across the country.
On September 5th, we celebrated Senator’s birthday (September 7th) on the Big Island with the planting of an ohia lehua tree outside of the County building in Hilo. Mayor
Billy Kenoi hosted a wonderful celebration. The ohia lehua tree was selected because of its unique connection to the island. It is often one of the first plants to emerge from the lava fields, symbolizing strength and resilience. The Cafe 100 beef stew capped off a very special celebration.
A week later, the parade field adjacent to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia was named for our dear Senator. A proud infantry man with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Inouye parade field is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. Nearly 18,000 men and women will march across this field as they mark the successful completion of basic training this year.
The YMCA’s Youth in Government program coaches young leaders throughout the island of Oahu on the legislative process, complete with the election of youth legislators and a youth governor. With our core mission to inspire leadership, the DKI Institute partnered with the Y, and brought in six leaders representing the legislative and executives branches, both political parties, even a newly elected non-partisan council member. The students spent quality time with them, culminating in a quick answer round with all six leaders answering a host of serious and silly questions, as well as demonstrating their best sign-waving moves!
Irene and Kenny were both in Hawaii to attend our mahalo reception to thank our donors and partners, and to share our progress in carrying forward Senator’s legacy. We also took the opportunity to show off some of our priceless pieces — the Medal of Honor, the Medal of Freedom, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers the Order of the Rising Sun presented by the Emperor of Japan, and the Iran-Contra gavel. A great time was had by all.
In the spirit of the holiday season, let us be thankful for our many blessings – good health, good cheer, and the love and support of friends and family. Let us look to the New Year with a renewed optimism and hope. Haouli Makahiki Hou!
Irene, Kenny and Jennifer