WASHINGTON – Six Asian American state legislators will travel to Japan as part of the 2019 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) Program.
The program will consist of a one-week trip from Dec. 6 to 14, when the delegation will travel to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Tottori to meet with Japanese political and government leaders, business executives, nonprofit leaders and academics to exchange ideas as well as create networks that can mutually benefit the U.S.-Japan relationship.
AALD is co-organized by the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.
The AALD Program began in 2014, and 29 delegates have participated to date. The 2019 delegates are:
• State Rep. Chris Chyung, Indiana House of Representatives
• State Rep. Nima Kulkarni, Kentucky House of Representatives
• State Assemblymember Rochelle Nguyen, Nevada State Assembly
• State Rep. My-Linh Thai, Washington House of Representatives
• State Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Hawaii House of Representatives
• State Rep. Mike Yin, Wyoming House of Representatives
As part of the program, the delegates will speak at a panel discussion on Dec. 12 titled “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators in 2019.” Many of the delegates have followed non-traditional paths, choosing to become a politician after pursuing different careers. The audience will have the opportunity to learn about their personal choices, as well as the important role Asian American politicians play in their political arenas, especially in light of current events. The speakers will also reflect upon their experience in Japan.
Nobuko Sasae, President of Nobuko Forum Japan, will moderate the discussion. Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC president, will also offer remarks at the symposium. This event will be held at the Nippon Foundation Building from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Yamashita represents District 12, Upcountry Maui. First elected to office in 2004, he has served in the State House of Representatives for 15 years. He serves on the Finance Committee and oversees the Capital Improvement Projects budget. He is also a member of the Committees on Labor & Public Employment and Economic Development & Business.
On a regional level, Yamashita has been a member of the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators since 2010. He became the chair of this caucus in 2014.
Yamashita was a small business owner and general partner of the Super Stop stores and gas stations. His business experience motivated him to organize the Ohana Savers Group, to promote small Maui-based businesses.
Yamashita and his wife Karen moved to Maui in 1990 and raised their two sons there. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Upcountry Maui and continues to be active in the community.