President’s Note for May 2023

 In Japan Society News

Over the last few months, we’ve been working on several initiatives to build connections and increase the value of Japan Society among our members. We have been on a record pace with programs this year. Through mid-May we’ve already done 26 programs in 2023, which is more than half of the 40 we put on in all of 2022! We’ve also tried to cover a broad range of content, from business and innovation, to policy and politics, healthcare, traditional arts, and food and popular culture. We’ve even organized two Rakugo performances!

Moreover, as we have moved past the worst of Covid, we have increased the number of in-person events. Among the 26 events we have held so far this year, 24 (or 92%!) have had an in-person component. You may have noticed that we also attempt to schedule a significant portion of the time at our in-person events for socializing with other attendees.

We are also working to offer more high-value events for members. In particular, as we announced at our Annual General Members Meeting in April, we have been working to re-energize our Leadership Circle program.

This program was originally conceived more than 10 years ago by our wonderful long-term board member, Barbara Bundy, who saw the need to provide a program for our strongest supporters (board members and other individuals who donate more than $1000/year). 

This year, we have arranged a series of invite-only VIP dinners and events with some of our speakers and visitors to the Bay Area for our Leadership Circle members. (If you would like to know more about this program please reach out to Brenda Bohn, brenda@usajapan.org, who is heading up this initiative on our team)

Last month, we were especially pleased to have a wonderful dinner discussion at Akari Japanese Bistro (if you haven’t tried it yet you must!) with our board members Drew Edwards and Hiro Kuwajima. Drew and Hiro had an engaging “fireside chat” drawing on Drew’s experiences in asset management in Japan. 

Among other topics, Drew shared his perspective on the growth of activist investors in Japan, how he identifies undervalued companies that are poised for growth, and why Warren Buffet has invested in Japan’s trading companies. 

This coming week, we will be hosting another Leadership Circle dinner event with Alan Turley, the top commercial officer in the US Embassy in Tokyo who has kindly agreed to share his Friday evening with us. It should be a wonderful program.

Going forward, we have a very active schedule of events coming in June, including (among others):

  • Innovation Breakfast Program with ACCJ in Tokyo on 6/12 JT featuring several past winners of our Innovation Awards program (this will be a hybrid event)
  • VIP Reception at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo on 6/13 (invitation only)
  • Program on Mobility Tech on 6/20 featuring presentations by a number of Japanese companies active in this industry
  • A program on how robots are being used for caregiving in Japan and elsewhere featuring expert and author James Wright  (6/21)

Please keep your eyes open for even more upcoming events, and I hope that I will see you at some of our programs in the near future!

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