By GWEN MURANAKA
Rafu English Editor in Chief
Two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the 2013 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) will travel to Fukushima to offer support and learn lessons from the disaster, focusing on the impact of the nuclear crisis.
Now in its 13th year, the delegation provides opportunities for Nikkei leaders nationwide to meet top Japanese government and business officials. This year’s delegation will be in Japan from March 8 to 13, and will participate in a symposium sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and U.S.-Japan Council (USJC). The program is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and organized by USJC.
Delegates were briefed during sessions last Friday at the Japanese American National Museum led by Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC president, making her first public appearance in Los Angeles since the passing of her husband, Sen. Daniel Inouye, in December.
“I sincerely appreciated the tremendous outpouring of support and expression of condolences following Dan’s passing, especially from my hometown community of Southern California. Dan was a strong supporter of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation program because of its contribution to deepening ties between the U.S. and Japan over the past 13 years. I know he would be proud of our continued efforts to ensure a strong U.S.-Japan relationship.” Hirano Inouye said.
For the delegates, the trip to Fukushima will be a chance to see first-hand the impact of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, which forced the evacuations of hundreds of thousands of residents. The 2011 leadership delegation was in Tokyo when the earthquake struck.
L.A. Fire Deputy Chief David Yamahata is making his first trip to Japan as part of the delegation. He said he is particularly interested in seeing how the Japanese responded to the disasters caused by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.
“Los Angeles has the potential for every type of incident,” Yamahata stated. “I’m looking forward to gain experience in Fukushima of how Japan handled that event and two years later, how they have managed the recovery.”
Dr. Marion Friebus-Flaman, principal of Thomas Dooley Elementary School in Schaumburg, Ill., has family ties to Fukushima, where her grandfather farmed and she recalled seeing trees filled with fresh apples and pears. She developed a Japanese-English dual language program and after the 2011 earthquake, her students sent letters to children in northeastern Japan and held fundraisers.
“I remember Fukushima very fondly and I know the family o-haka (gravesite) is there. I do want to go and see this area where I went as a child. As an educator, I’m very interested in finding out what is happening to the families in Fukushima because I know many of them had to leave their homes,” said Friebus-Flaman.
While the delegation is there, they will also view “The Art of Gaman,” a traveling exhibition of Japanese American concentration camp artifacts, currently showing in Fukushima. Many delegates stressed common values and friendships formed with Japanese in their personal and professional lives.
Julie Azuma, founder of Different Roads to Learning, a company that sells educational products for children with autism, has formed a gathering of Japanese and Japanese Americans that meets at her home in New York every month for informal potlucks.
“I notice recently in the last 10 years, the outreach of people from Japan who are here. It’s no longer two communities, we’re merging into one. So I’m very positive about that and I’m excited to see if that exists in another country,” said Azuma.
Kelly Ogilvie, a Yonsei, said he was moved by story of elderly Japanese who volunteered to clean up at the nuclear power plant, despite the radiation dangers, in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
“I felt a great sense of personal pride that they would sacrifice themselves and that’s something I feel is a cultural value that was passed to me and it’s something I want to get back in touch with,” said Ogilvie, who is the founder of Quemulus Inc. in Seattle.
For Emily Murase, the first Japanese American to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education, the legacy of the late Sen. Inouye has inspired her to participate in public service.
“His passing represents a real need in the community for us to step up and play the kind of role he was able to play for so long, and we’re so fortunate to have Irene with this unrelenting vision,” said Murase.
Following are profiles of the delegates provided by USJC (in alphabetical order).
• JULIE AZUMA (New York City), president and founder, Different Roads to Learning/DRL Books Inc.
Azuma started Different Roads to Learning in 1995. The company sells educational products for children diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and other developmental disabilities. In 1999 she created DRL Books Inc., which publishes books and curricula related to teaching functional, social and academic skills to individuals with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
Azuma received a BFA in apparel design from Washington University in St. Louis. She had a career in the apparel industry as a designer and merchandiser, working at many corporations. When her older daughter, Miranda, was diagnosed with autism at the age of six, Azuma left the industry to begin a niche business related to educating children on the spectrum.
She serves as the president of the board of Asian Women in Business (AWIB) and of the Eden II and Genesis Foundation, and vice president of the Japanese American Association of New York.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Wakayama and Kagawa
• MARION FRIEBUS-FLAMAN (Schaumburg, Ill.), principal, Thomas Dooley Elementary School
Dr. Friebus-Flaman has participated in the planning and development of a Japanese-English dual language program at Thomas Dooley Elementary School, where half the students are native speakers of Japanese and half are native speakers of English. By the time they finish sixth grade, the goal is for each student to be bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. This program is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Friebus-Flaman spent the first six years of her life in Japan, and prior to her time with the Schaumburg School District, she spent six additional years as a foreign lecturer/instructor at two Japanese national universities. She has served as a member of the Illinois English Language Learner Assessment Advisory Committee and the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Growth Models.
She holds a B.A. in English from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, M.A. in TESL (Teaching English as a second language) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.S. in educational administration from Northern Illinois University, and Ph.D. in education from Capella University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Fukushima (maternal grandfather); Kumamoto (maternal grandmother)
• MARTIN Y. IGUCHI (Washington, D.C.), dean and professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies
In addition to his positions at Georgetown University, Dr. Iguchi is also an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, where he formerly served as the director of the Drug Policy Research Center. Prior to joining Georgetown, he served as chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences within the School of Public Health at UCLA.
Iguchi has a long record of NIH- and foundation-funded research and scholarship aimed at improving public health. He has conducted extensive research on the intersections of drug addiction, drug policy, the criminal justice system, health disparities and HIV transmission. He is widely published and holds editorial roles with a number of scholarly journals, including senior editor for Addiction and member of the editorial boards for Drug and Alcohol Dependence and the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis.
The recipient of a master’s degree and Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Boston University, Iguchi is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and an elected member of its board of scientific affairs. He holds a B.A. from Vassar College.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Kagoshima
• KENZO KAWANABE (Denver), partner, Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP
Kawanabe is a commercial litigator and partner at DGS. He represents corporate clients in a variety of matters relating to contract disputes, business torts, products liability and intellectual property. He has significant litigation and trial experience in high-stakes cases.
Prior to joining DGS in 1998, he served as a law clerk for Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary J. Mullarkey. During law school, he studied Japanese law in Tokyo.
Kawanabe also contributes significant time to community service. He was chair of the Board of Directors of the Denver Foundation, one of America’s oldest and largest community foundations. He also was board chair of the Colorado Lawyers Committee, a consortium of over 50 law firms dedicated to assisting children and the disadvantaged. He is on the boards of Colorado Legal Services and the Center for Legal Inclusiveness and serves as a member of the Chief Justice Commission on the Profession and U.S.-Japan Council.
Kawanabe holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado and a J.D. from Georgetown University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Hiroshima
• EMILY MURASE (San Francisco), executive director, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women; commissioner, San Francisco Board of Education
At the Department on the Status of Women, Dr. Murase oversees a $3.5 million budget to promote the human rights of the women and girls of San Francisco. She has also served on the city’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Previously, Murase served in the first Clinton White House as director for international economic affairs (1993-1994) after working for AT&T Japan in Tokyo, and she later worked in the International Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission.
In 2010, Murase was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education, becoming the first Japanese American to serve on the school board. In 2009, she was named Woman of the Year by State Sen. Leland Yee and was recognized for her contributions to the women’s community by the Democratic Women’s Forum.
Murase holds an A.B. in modern Japanese history from Bryn Mawr College (including a year at Tsuda College in Tokyo), a master’s degree from the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, and a Ph.D. in communication from Stanford University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Yamaguchi, maternal side from Aomori
• VERNE NAITO (Portland, Ore.), vice president, Naito Corporation
At Naito Corporation, a family-owned and managed business, Naito oversees property management, real estate investments, financial management and new business development. In its 92-year history, the company has been an importer, distributor, retailer and real estate developer. Prior to joining the corporation, Naito worked in management consulting and finance in high tech.
He has held board and advisory board positions in numerous nonprofit and business organizations, including: the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce; Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Oregon; University of Portland’s Center for Entrepreneurship; Japanese American Citizens League, Portland Chapter; Portland Japanese Garden Society; and Portland State University’s Center for Japanese Studies.
Naito received his B.A. from Pomona College and MBA from Harvard Business School.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Kobe, maternal side from Fukuoka
• KELLY OGILVIE (Seattle), founder, chairman, president and chief operating officer, Quemulus Inc.
In addition to his positions with Quemulus, an “e-wallet” application accessible from a website and mobile devices, Ogilvie is also founding partner of Social Milli LLC, a social media consultancy that advises small and medium-sized businesses on social media strategy. Previously, he was founder, CEO and president of Blue Marble Biomaterials.
Before that time, Ogilvie worked with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to promote business interests in Washington State, and also worked for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate division on developing the South Lake Union Corridor. He began his career in Washington Gov. Gary Locke’s office, coordinating outreach efforts, and also spent time as deputy director for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.
Ogilvie currently serves on the Board of Directors of Extraordinary Futures and the External Advisory Board of Washington State University’s Center for Environmental Research Education and Outreach.
He attended Seattle University, where he received a B.A. in humanities and international business.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: unknown
• ERIC TAKAHATA (Honolulu), managing director, Hawaii Tourism Japan
Takahata has more than 20 years of experience in promoting tourism marketing and sales between the U.S. and Japan. He is the official marketing contractor for the Hawaii Tourism Authority in Japan and successfully created and implemented Japan Airlines’ Hawaii route marketing promotions, which increased JAL’s profitability on that route.
Takahata holds a B.B.A. in management information systems from the University of Hawaii, where he was a Western Athletic Conference scholar-athlete.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Kumamoto
• DAVID YAMAHATA (Pasadena), deputy chief, Los Angeles Fire Department
A 35-year veteran of the LAFD, Yamahata has served 16 years as a chief officer and with his most recent promotion, is the first Japanese American to reach the rank of chief deputy in the department’s history. In that capacity, he is responsible for supervising all fire and emergency medical service resources, serving the 470 square miles of the City of Los Angeles, as well as the Metropolitan Fire Communications dispatch center.
As former chief of staff for the LAFD, he served as liaison between the Fire department and the mayor, City Council members and their staff in managing issues within the community to ensure public safety for the citizens of Los Angeles.
Yamahata holds a B.A. in biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in emergency service administration from CSU Long Beach. He completed the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program in 2006.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Hiroshima and Wakayama, maternal side from Yamaguchi
• AMY D. YAMASHIRO (Arlington, Va.), data and evaluation coordinator, Arlington Public Schools
For over 20 years, Dr. Yamashiro has worked in schools/education administration, as lead researcher, professor, classroom teacher, as board member for an independent elementary and middle school, and on community and school advisory/task force committees. Her current work serves the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families. She makes data-driven recommendations to the county and school boards concerning programs and policies for children, youth and families.
In addition, Yamashiro is an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education, co-coordinator for the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, and educational consultant on assessment/evaluation and educational research. She also serves on the board for the Dream Project Inc.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Yale University, M.A. in TESOL from the School for International Training, and doctorate in education from Temple University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Okinawa, maternal side from Mie