Tayō-Sei Program Concluded

The Tayō-sei Program concluded in December 2020. USJETAA's only program for college students, this program was administered by the JET Alumni Association of Southeast (JETAASE) and generously funded by a Japan Foundation Los Angeles language grant.

Tayō-sei is a virtual Japanese language and culture seminar series for Black and LatinX college students at schools across the four states served by JETAASE: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The free course provided an opportunity for students underrepresented in studying or working abroad in Japan, specifically for those from LatinX backgrounds and students of color, to help them develop an interest in studying and living abroad in Japan among cohort. This course encouraged them to consider Japan as an option in the trajectory of their lives.

Each of the four virtual classes featured a Japanese lesson from Jess Brown of Nihongo Connection (Oita, 2000-2003) or a culture lesson from JOI coordinator Yoko Minami. The second half of the class included a guest speaker who shared their Japan story. Speakers were Valerie Stewart (Nagasaki, 2002-2004)Fernando Rojas (Fukui, 2008-2010)Jennifer Garcia (Hyogo, 2011-2013),  and Ben Green (Saitama, 1997-1999) - all pictured above.

Eighteen students participated in the course, with 15 earning a certificate of completion and a set of bento making items from K&L Bentos. We received positive feedback on the program from the participants. One student said they liked, "Learning the language and culture with people who looked like me and were people of color. Also, the guest speakers sharing their careers made possible because of [the JET] program was very encouraging."

Learn more about the organizers, speakers, and students here.

Chapter Grant Program: Mentorship Program Closing Ceremony

On January 16, JET Alumni Association DC (JETAADC) held a virtual closing ceremony for their inaugural 6-month mentorship program that they launched in the summer of 2020. This program was sponsored by Sasakawa USA through a partnership with USJETAA. The mentorship program paired six JET alumni interested in U.S.-Japan related careers with six mentors in the Washington, DC area. In this closing ceremony, each mentee-mentor pair presented on their time together and what they gained from their partnership. For the mentees, gaining clarity on what they want to pursue, an understanding of the resources available to them, and a broader network in their specific area of interest in the U.S.-Japan arena were highlights of the experience. Due to the success of this program, it will be shared as a model for other JET alumni associations that would like to establish their own mentorship program in their local communities.

Recording: Racial and Social Justice in Cross-Cultural Contexts: Meaning and Action in the U.S.-Japan Community

This is an excerpt from Dr. Mya Fisher's (JET in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa, 2000-2002; Global Equity Forward) 90-minute training on "Racial and Social Justice in Cross-Cultural Contexts: Meaning and Action in the U.S.-Japan Community." It covers some practical advice on how to create space and allyship in the U.S.-Japan community. The full workshop used presentations and interactive breakouts to examine the challenges presented by the way Japan and the U.S. understand terms like diversity, racial and social justice. Discussions focused on how these issues impact organizations and members of the U.S.-Japan community. Participants learned how to create safe spaces and foster community to address these issues. This event was hosted by USJETAA in collaboration with CULCON and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.
Watch on YouTube

Chapter Grant Program: J-Talks: Finding Japan in the Midwest

On January 28, JET Alumni Association of Chicago held a virtual event “J-Talks: Finding Japan in the Midwest,” which was sponsored by Sasakawa USA through a grant partnership with USJETAA. In their webinar series “Strengthening Ties Through Dialogue,” this first session explored the hidden roots of Chicago's Japanese communities and discussed the role the Midwest plays in bridging US-Japan relations. The panel consisted of Mr. Erik Matsunaga, a writer and researcher who provided a virtual tour of Chicago’s historic Japantown; Mr. Dustin Henrich (Osaka, 2012-2014), President of the Heartland JET Alumni Association, who spoke on sister city relations in the Midwest; and Ms. Jo Oyama-Miller, Board President of Madison-Obihiro Sister Cities, Inc who shared a touching look at the deep ties between the two cities and the transformative impact it has had on both communities. We will share the recording once it is available.

Alumni Interview Series - Episode 3: Iwate

Interview with Doug Sikora (Iwate, 1992-1994).

What sparked your interest in applying for the JET program?

My Japanese Sensei at Villanova University recommended the JET Program. At the time, living and working in Japan was NOT part of my “life plan". I was a full-time student and worked part-time as a process sever serving subpoenas and summons for the courts. I thought I’d go to law school and then maybe join the F.B.I or D.E.A. I initially enrolled in Japanese class because it fit my crazy schedule, not because I thought I’d ever visit Japan (no less live / work there). When I shared my future plans with my Japanese Sensei I’ll never forget her response. “Doug-san, if you spend a few years in Japan (on the JET Program) you’ll gain incredible international experience and appear as a much more unique applicant to law schools; the FBI or DEA.” No argument there; Sensei was a spectacular saleswoman. So I researched the JET Program and was amazed at the opportunity / adventure it offered. I applied and recall going to NYC for the 3:1 interview. One of the interviewers asked me how I felt about being stationed in a very remote, rural part of Japan where there were few foreigners and people who spoke English. I said, “Perfect.” A few weeks later, I received word I was stationed at the Ofunato Kyoiku Jimusho serving the San-Riku Area elementary and high schools.

To learn more about Doug's experiences in Iwate, visit this link.

This interview is part of a partnership between the Japan Society Boston (JSB) and the United States Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in which JET alumni contribute short interviews about their experiences in Japan in each prefecture. To read the full interviews, please visit our website.

Job Postings

Visit the Job Board for more great opportunities.

Have a job we should include? Email us at
We rely on your generosity to support our programs, so please consider a tax-deductible donation to USJETAA to help us continue our work. USJETAA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, EIN 47-4042132. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donate here.

Upcoming Activities

Event: USJETAA Japanese Reading Group

February 9, 2021 from 7 - 8:30 PM Eastern Time
RSVP via Facebook or join by Zoom link
Registration not required

The goal of the USJETAA Japanese Reading Group is to help advanced beginner and intermediate level students improve their reading skills. Each month we will look at a short reading from Aozora Bunko, a repository of public domain literature. Participants should attempt to do the reading on their own and come to the meeting with any questions. We will spend the meeting each month reading the assignment sentence by sentence to understand how the Japanese is working. This event will be on the second Tuesday each month, rom 7:00-8:30pm Eastern Time and is facilitated by Daniel Morales of How to Japanese.

In February, we'll be reading the first "night" of Natsume Soseki's "Ten Nights Dreaming" (夢十夜). Soseki is one of Japan's literary godfathers and is widely considered one of the most important modern writers. His well known novels include "Kokoro" and "I Am a Cat." "Ten Nights Dreaming" is a set of 10 surreal short stories, which has had several translations, including one from JET alum Matt Treyvaud. We'll read just the first night. Access the readings here.

Kizuna: Connecting Little Tokyo's Past and Present

February 10, 2021
6:00pm - 7:30pm PT / 9 - 10:30 PM ET

Thanks to generous funding from Sasakawa USA and USJETAA, JETAA Southern California and Arizona is proud to present an informational webinar highlighting Los Angeles' own Little Tokyo community. Panelists will share an overview of Little Tokyo's history, its contributions to U.S-Japan relations, and its response to the pandemic including initiatives and community support.

This event is supported by the Chapter Grant Program for JETAA Chapters and Sub-Chapters, a program partnership funded by  the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and administered by USJETAA.

The Opportunity and Crisis in Japanese Agriculture Today

Date: February 17, 2021 US (February 18, 2021 Japan)
Time: 8 PM Eastern Time (10 AM Japan Time)

USJETAA and Kokoro Care Packages are pleased to announce an event that will give you a peek into the world of Japanese farming. One cannot think of the Japanese countryside without conjuring up images of terraced rice fields, lush and green or filled with water depending on the season. Yet most of us don’t know much about the concerns of small farmers or the economic and other challenges unique to Japanese agriculture. Three speakers will each provide a different perspective for a nuanced look at the current state of agriculture in Japan.

  • Dr. Patricia Maclachlan of the University of Texas at Austin
  • Dr. Kay Shimizu of the University of Pittsburgh
  • Shohei Takemura of Bamboo Village Farm
The primary language for the event will be English. Japanese portions of the event will include consecutive interpretation. Event runs 1.5 hours.

Mixed Multitudes: A Discussion about Identity in the U.S.-Japan Community 

Thursday, February 18th
7 PM - 8:45 PM CT / 8 PM - 9:45 PM ET

This program will cultivate connections between the U.S. and Japan by bringing together multiracial Japanese American/Nikkei speakers to explore their different experiences and help attendees understand and navigate the concept of mixed race identity in both the U.S. and Japan.

First, Dr. Mitzi Uehara Carter, will look to contextualize the discussion of multiracial identities. Using intersectionality as a framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social categorizations enable different modes of discrimination and privilege, concepts foundational to the discussion will be introduced, including an overview of hafu in Japan and nikkei in the U.S.

Second, a panel discussion will cover topics such as how the multicultural identities in the speakers' backgrounds affected their experiences in Japan, how these experiences inform their relationships with the U.S.-Japan community and how different aspects of their identities impact cross-cultural relationships and understanding between Japan and the U.S.

This event is supported by the Chapter Grant Program for JETAA Chapters and Sub-Chapters, a program partnership funded by  the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and administered by USJETAA.

February Chapter Events

For January alumni events, check out this blog post for a round up of activities you can join or check out our event feed. Is an event missing? Let us know via email at or add it to our website from the events tab when logged in to your account.

Events coming up in the next 2 weeks:


JET Alumni News

JETAA Chapter Elections

Many chapters hold their annual elections this time of year. If you want to get involved, find your chapter here and check their website for more info.

Mombusho English Fellow (MEF) Program Reunion

(MEF is the predecessor of JET)
Message from Tim Cook (MEF, Yamaguchi-ken, 1981-1983; professor of English, Iryo Sosei University, Iwaki-shi, Fukushima-ken):

It’s great that former JETs have USJETAA to keep everyone in touch, and that they let us former MEFs participate, but we ourselves don’t yet have such a network. Several of us have gotten in contact with each other to remedy that in a big way with a reunion for all the former MEFs that can get to Osaka the weekend of March 19-20, 2022. One of our cohorts, Richard Mei (MEF, Tokushima-ken, 1981-1982) became the U.S. Consul-General in Osaka last summer and he’d like to host this at the Consul-General residence. It’s possible the venue would change depending on the number of participants, but the Osaka area and the dates are firm. We’re hoping that by then, travel will be reasonably smooth both to and within Japan.
By summer of this year, a general plan should be available. And if you can’t get to Japan then, we still will appreciate staying in touch with you. Whether you can go or not, if you’re a former MEF, please drop me a line at

JET Alumni Publications

Below are several works that JET alumni published recently:

Ellen Kamei Elected as Mayor of Mountain View, CA

We would like to offer our congratulations to JET alumna Ellen Kamei (Mie-ken, 2005-2007), who has been chosen as mayor of the City of Mountain View, California! Ms. Kamei previously served as Vice Mayor, and currently works as External Affairs Area Manager for AT&T. Read more here.

New Movie: Stay

Watch here:

The film Stay, created by Executive Producer Christopher Rathbone (CIR Nikko Tochigi 1989-1991) and Director Darryl Wharton (Fukushima 2005-2007), is about a recovering addict's struggles to survive after losing his job. He meets a free spirited woman, who changes his world, but cannot stay in his life. Expanding to an international canvas, STAY, was shot in Tokyo. It has earned awards from the Miami Independent Film Festival, WorldFest Houston, the Mexico International Film Fest, Baltimore International Black Film Fest, and the Royal Starr Film Fest.

Christopher Rathbone is an attorney working with the law firm City-Yuwa Partners in Tokyo, and is also a professor at Temple University Japan Law School. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Darryl Wharton-Rigby is a Writer, Director, and Producer living in Saitama. He has an MFA in Film Directing from Chapman University and was a Lecturer for Morgan State University's Screenwriting and Animation program. The film, Stay, made him the second African-American to make a feature film in Japan.

Black Americans and U.S.-Japan Relations Recording

This event featured JET alumna, Paige Cottingham-Streater (Mie-ken, 1988-89), Executive Director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and was moderated by Morgan Pitelka, Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Prior to joining the Commission, Cottingham-Streater served as deputy executive director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation where she worked for sixteen years. In addition to providing strategic leadership for the Mansfield Foundation, she directed the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program, a Congressionally-established professional exchange for mid-level federal government employees. Previously, Cottingham-Streater was director for the U.S.-Japan Project at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she supervised visiting scholars, conducted research on US-Japan issues, managed the project’s budget and published the project’s newsletter.  

Event recording and more info:

New Podcast: Japan Winecast

JET Alumnus, David Ellis's (Yamanashi, 1991-1994) podcast on Japan's unique wine scene focuses on the history of wine in the island nation, the unique varietals grown here and the fantastic wineries that I have discovered on my travels in the Land of the Rising Sun. For further information, visit his website, Close to Mount Fuji, to read more about the boutique wineries described on this podcast.

To learn more go to:

A Mostly Not Untrue Walking Tour of Downtown Tampa - Feb 6

John McGee (Nagano 2004-2005; Kyoto 2018-2020) of the Environmental Team will be holding a walking tour of downtown Tampa, Florida on February 6. Tampa is an old city rich in history, but the history is often overrun by the rapid new development occurring here. This walking tour will not only let you stretch your legs through Downtown Tampa’s beautiful waterfront, but will provide a unique perspective on some of Tampa’s obscure history.  We guarantee you won’t have heard these stories before.  Like all oral history, these tales will leave you pretty sure some of it couldn’t have happened just that way, but not quite sure where to draw the lines.  And when told in John McGee’s noted storytelling style, you’ll find you don’t really care!

Event page:

The Future of the Alliance under President Biden and Prime Minister Suga - Feb 10

JET alumnus Michael Green of Center for Strategic and International Studies will be speaking as part of this event. Register here

The U.S.-Japan alliance is one of the strongest bilateral relationships in the world today. All the same, it often encounters times for necessary reflection and a reassessment of its most important pillars. As we enter 2021, there are many questions about the how the Suga government in Japan and the Biden administration in the U.S. will work together. Among the major agenda points are securing peace and stability in Asia, managing global trade networks, and ensuring the health of millions of Americans and Japanese amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us for a conversation with three experts from Japan and the U.S. on what 2021 will hold for relations between these Transpacific partners.

EngageAsia Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Awards - Feb 26

February 26, 2021 - 6:30 to 8:00 PM EST

Congrats to JET Alumnus, Daniel Carolin (Nagano-ken), winner of the EngageAsia Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Awards! The Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award was created in 2001 and administered by the United States-Japan Foundation (USJF) from 2002-2019. The award is now administered by EngageAsia with support from private donors and USJF. The award is offered in two categories, Humanities and Japanese Language, and honors top teachers who have dedicated their career to furthering mutual understanding between Americans and Japanese.The award is open to current full-time K-12 classroom teachers of any relevant subject in the United States. 

This virtual ceremony will honor  2020 Award Recipients, Daniel Carolin, Teacher of Japanese Language and English, Kennedy High School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Junko Tanaka, Teacher of Japanese Language, Clarendon Elementary School, San Francisco, California. The ceremony will include leaders in Japanese language and culture education as well as dignitaries. All are welcome to join but please register here!

Have something you think we should share? Email us at Not all submitted ideas will be shared.

Other Updates & Events

Seeking volunteer Japanese language assistants for online program for DC students  (Globalize DC)
Globalize DC will soon begin the second semester of our new online Japanese language and culture program, Japanese Tamago. We have a wonderful, diverse group of DC public high school students, none of whom we have actually met face-to-face, who join us enthusiastically for the program's weekly two-hour meetings. To help us through the remainder of the school year, our teacher, Yoko Eshita, is seeking one or two individuals who would like to join us as volunteer language assistants. Our meetings are Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30 pm. Volunteer language assistants will be used to lead breakout groups for Japanese language practice. Native speakers, college or even high school students with intermediate or advanced level proficiency would be great. Anyone interested, or seeking more information, should contact  at

TSE Introduces a Brand New Playing Field for Japanese Companies: Who Will Be the Winners? 2/9, 7:00-8:00pm (EST)
Sponsor: Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB), Columbia Business School. Speaker: Ryota Kimura, Chief Representative & General Manager, New York Representative Office, Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc; Moderator: Alicia Ogawa, Director, Project on Japanese Corporate Governance and Stewardship, CJEB, Columbia Business School. In the U.S., NASDAQ has issued new diversity requirements for companies listed on that exchange. Similarly, the TSE is introducing new requirements for being listed on Japan's stock exchange, which will address many persistent concerns of investors: cross-shareholding, lack of diversity, and weak corporate governance are only some examples.

Art of Sake & Sakeware Treasures from GIFU & IWATE

In Japan, from ancient times, cuisine and tableware have been inseparable. Vessels of various shapes, colors and materials are selected to complement the ingredients and the seasons. In this three day web series, we will take you to two iconic regions of Japan: Mino pottery, the largest producer of pottery and ceramic art from Gifu prefecture, and Joboji lacquer, one of the most rare and precious lacquerware from Iwate Prefecture. You will have a chance to meet and mingle with the real artists from Gifu and Iwate to have an-indepth look at their craftsmanship!

Registration Link:

February 15, 2021 7pm - 8pm (EST)
We will visit the eastern region of Gifu Prefecture, where Minoyaki pottery has been produced since the 7th century. By live-streaming Minoyaki artists from their kilns and studios, you will get to see the process and various craftsmanship.

February 17, 2021 7 - 8pm (EST)
We will visit Iwate Prefecture, showcasing the Joboji lacquerware artists of Ninohe City who will explain how they produce their well known lacquerware and how to pair their lacquerware sets with various types of sake. 

February 19, 2021 7 - 8pm (EST)
Round-table discussion with Japanese women entrepreneurs doing business in the area of sake and Japanese art. Moderated discussion over their personal experience starting their business.
JASWDC J-Book Club: The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida, 2/22, 6:30-8:00pm (EST)

J-Book Club is now online so you can join the conversation from wherever you are! The next event is February 22, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm and will be reading The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida.
To learn more go to: 
To register email Amy Sherman at:

“Nuclear Nation” (2013), Screening & Discussion, 2/22, 8:00pm (EST)
A documentary about the exile of Futaba’s residents, the region housing the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The town’s people have now lost their homeland. Through their agonies and frustrations, the film questions the real cost of capitalism and nuclear energy by Atsushi Funahashi (Tokyo-based filmmaker).

How COVID-19 has Transformed Japan’s Culture of (Over-)Work 2/23, 7:30pm (EST)
A discussion with Professor Hiroshi Ono (Hitotsubashi University Business School) about Japan’s labor market response to COVID-19 and its implications for “overwork” culture and telework. Prof. Ono’s opening remarks will be followed by a Q&A/discussion with webinar participants moderated by 21JPSI Director Adam P. Liff.

Thank you to our grantors, program partners, and donors![UNIQID]
USJETAA is an independent, self-sustaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for and about the JETAA network and alumni in the United States. To learn more about our activities, become a registered member, or to support our efforts, please visit us at
Copyright © 2021 USJETAA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp