Passing of Vice President Mondale

On April 19, former Vice President Walter Mondale passed away. Mondale was a long-time supporter of U.S.-Japan relations and served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1996. In addition to his lifelong work in public service and politics, he was a good friend to the U.S.-Japan community and was especially supportive of JET and JET alumni. In 2013, when JETAA Minnesota hosted the JETAA National Conference for JETAA leaders, he readily agreed to speak at the opening reception and then spent the whole evening chatting with everyone. We are deeply saddened by his passing and extend our condolence to his family and friends.

Paige Cottingham-Streater, Chair, USJETAA Board of Directors

Bahia Simons-Lane, Executive Director

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.


USJETAA Bids Farewell to Program Coordinator Casey Nealy

USJETAA bids a fond farewell to Program Coordinator Casey Nealy (Kumamoto, 2013-2015). For the past two years eight months while pursuing her MA in international and intercultural communication, Casey worked part-time to support USJETAA's programs, especially our Microgrant Initiative for current JETs. Casey will be leaving USJETAA to take the full-time position of Associate Program Manager, Diplomatic Engagement with Meridian International Center. Congratulations, Casey! Thank you for all your hard work over the past few years.

USJETAA Profiled by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission

The Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC) interviewed our Executive Director Bahia Simons-Lane about USJETAA's past, present, and future. Discover more of USJETAA's history and its relationship as a grantee of JUSFC by reading Meet Our Grantees: US-Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme Alumni Association featured on JUSFC's website.

Article: Why Japanese Boards of Directors Should Be Held to Gender Diversity Standards of the West

by Tracy Gopal (Shiga, 1992-1993)

Mounting research indicates that gender diversity on boards is correlated with superior financial performance and governance oversight. Gender diversity fosters innovation, improved risk oversight, and a greater focus on workforce diversity issues. As board gender diversity has become a global issue, and governments, exchanges, and investors around the world have taken significant actions, Japan remains behind on board gender diversity. Historically, Japan was only held to local market standards. The rationale for not expecting Japan to rise to higher global standards included a lack of female talent and culture. However, this historical rationale is no longer valid. The concerns expressed over lack of female talent are no different than those heard when Norway instituted 40 percent gender quotas in 2003 and when California instituted gender quotas in 2018. If the definition of a qualified director is expanded and global boundaries are eliminated, then Japan has sufficient female candidates to fill board positions. For these reasons, certain leading investors and proxy advisors have changed their proxy voting policies to require Japanese companies to have at least one woman on the board. Higher standards for gender board diversity are necessary to shift ingrained cultural gender stereotypes, maximize the usage of talent, and harness the merits of board diversity.

Read: Why Japanese Boards of Directors Should Be Held to Gender Diversity Standards of the West

The JETs on Japan Forum is a partnership between USJETAA and Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (Sasakawa USA) that features selected articles of JET alumni perspectives on U.S.-Japan relations. More info.

Article: Preserving Traditional Japanese Agriculture in a Modern-Day Global Context

by Lillian Hanako Rowlatt (Niigata, 2003-2005)

Japan’s agriculture industry faces challenges from a shrinking and aging farming population, an overwhelming presence of small-scale farms, and inefficient structural and political issues. Yet against this backdrop, an opportunity arises for Japan to preserve and support its agricultural communities by increasing the awareness of its traditional cuisine, sharing its philosophies around food and farming, and decreasing restrictive trade barriers with the U.S.

Read: Preserving Traditional Japanese Agriculture in a Modern-Day Global Context 

The JETs on Japan Forum is a partnership between USJETAA and Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (Sasakawa USA) that features selected articles of JET alumni perspectives on U.S.-Japan relations. More info.

Blog Post: Debunking the Myths: JET Program Edition (Part 1)

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program is a highly competitive employment opportunity that allows college graduates from around the world to work for boards of education, schools, and government offices throughout Japan. While in Japan, JETs are able to gain the cultural experience of a lifetime while also developing necessary soft skills for future employment. Although The JET Program is loved by almost all JET alumni, there are a number of rumors circulating about the benefits of the JET Program. These rumors ultimately deter JET hopefuls from applying and taking on one of the most transformative, life-changing opportunities out there. In this series we call “Debunking the Myths: JET Program Edition,” we attempt to tackle these misconceptions/assumptions head-on with facts and statistics. 

Alumni Interview: Janae Miller (Hitachi, Ibaraki, 2017-2018)

"Ibaraki is known for its natto and chestnuts. It is also famous for one of Japan’s three most celebrated gardens, Kairakuen in Mito, the capital of Ibaraki, and has an awesome plum tree forest. One of my favorite tourist destinations is Hitachi Seaside Park, which has rolling hills of blooming flowers that varies with the seasons. In the spring you can see the baby blue nemophila, bike along the paths around the park, and even ride the Ferris wheel."

Read the full interview with Janae here.

Alumni Interview: Hannah Dyer-Holzhauer (Toride, Ibaraki, 2016-2017)

"Pre-JET, Japan was just a name, an idea, something from the history books - an unexplored entity that had never even arisen as a consideration for my own personal exploration. Now, it is a part of me. Japan, with all of its wonders and even all of the things I rather hated, is part of me. Japan will be forever a piece of home for me. I was walking through an Asian grocery store yesterday, and I saw, in my mind, a gaijin. It took me a moment or two after his eyes met mine for me to realize that, just as he had stood out as a foreigner to my eyes, I had stood out to him. But I hadn’t noticed it at first, because I felt comfortable in that store, at home and at ease. I belonged, despite the fact that I never could or would visually belong in any Asian setting. I’m blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 5’6” tall… I couldn’t look more German and non-Asian if I tried. And yet I still belonged and always will."

Read the full interview with Hannah here.

These interviews are part of a partnership between the Japan Society Boston (JSB) and 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.

Annual AJET Survey for JETs and Alumni

National AJET is conducting a survey for all JET participants, including alumni, and would love to especially hear from you. Would you mind participating in AJET's survey? Here is the link to the AJET survey.

Recording: JETs in the Gaming Industry

Are you interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry? Our JET Alumni speakers share their own journeys after JET and how they got started in the gaming industry. View the recording of this webinar to hear tips and advice for landing a job in the field. 

For more on this topic, join our networking session on June 16, 2021 at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET (Japan Time: June 17th, at 7 am). REGISTER.

JET Alumni News

Tracy Gopal (Shiga, 1992-1993) is excited to share the launch of the Third Arrow Strategies Japan Board Diversity Network (JBDN) in partnership with Equilar. BusinessWire featured a press release for JBDN which will focus on promoting gender diversity on boards in Japan. JBDN intends to assist companies seeking to identify potential female talent for their boards, as well as invest in senior female leadership that may be board candidates in the future. 
JET alumnus Keith Lommel (Hokkaido, 1999-2002) has been diagnosed with multifocal recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) or aggressive brain tumors. Keith was posted at the US Consulate General in Osaka and started his career with JET before joining the Foreign Service. He is now at a hospital in Arlington, VA. For more information or to support the family's gofundme visit this link.

Amber Bunnell (Tokushima, 2016-2019) wrote "Leaving Tokyo: Shimonoro Permanent Sauna and Guesthouse" in The Best Japan.  

Lena Glaze (Tottori/Shimane, 2018 - Present) wrote "Naoshima Day Trip: A Tired Traveler’s Experience on Japan’s Art Island" for The Best Japan.  

Lee-Sean Huang (ALT, 2003-2006) wrote "Designing for change, Isamu Noguchi, and embracing the in-between" featured within Inside Design on InVision, a digital design platform. 

Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-1999), Japanese culture expert and contributing editor of the English-language edition of the literary magazine MONKEY, was interviewed by Spotlight magazine on his work.

Online Course: How Does Race Shape American Life? - May 14

Applying a sociological lens, Dr. Mya Fisher (Kanagawa, 2000-2002) teaches this course that examines how the history and identities of American racial groups impact their life prospects and outcomes. The goal is to provide a foundation for understanding and critically examining the events of 2020 (e.g. coronavirus pandemic, politics, policing, criminal justice, rise in violence against Asian Americans, and the protests for racial justice). This 8-week course is also a great opportunity for personal exploration and community discussion of these issues.

JET alumni are eligible for a 15% discount. Please use the "discount inquiry" button below for further details. LEARN MORE

Bilingual Networking Session May 19th

Bilingual networking session from Boston Intercultural's Daniel Lowe (Chiba, 2011-2013) on May 19th. Are you feeling the need to connect with other Japanese or English-speaking bilinguals? Join us for our next monthly, one-hour networking session on May 19 from 8 PM - 9 PM EST. This event is free, but space is limited! The primary language of this event is English, but we can organize Japanese-language breakout rooms upon request. Email with any questions. Register:


CLAIR Forum is looking for articles by JET alumni in the US!

What was JET like for you? Where did life take you after leaving Japan and what are you doing now? How has JET continued to play a role in your life?Has it influenced your career development? They want to hear from JET alumni living in the US and share that in the September issue of Forum. The article must be written in Japanese (don’t worry, they’ll help edit) and should be around two pages long. The limit is 1600 characters in Japanese word count, or around 1000 words in a Word doc. Also please include 4 or 5 photos.

The deadline to express interest is May 19, 2021.
The deadline for draft submission is June 10, 2021.

CLAIR will provide a fee (amount TBD) for articles accepted.

If you’re interested, please contact JLGC New York to discuss your submission. Include a brief outline of your article, with information on your JET placement and life now.

Project lead: Mr. Kazuki Matsuo,
Please cc &

Job Postings

Visit the Job Board for more great opportunities.

Upcoming Events

May Chapter Events

For May alumni events, check out this blog post for a round-up of activities you can join. Is an event missing? Let us know via email at

June Chapter Events

For June alumni events, check out this blog post for a round-up of activities you can join. Is an event missing? Let us know via email at

Event: Becoming a Life Coach

May 24, 2021
4 pm PT / 7 pm ET
Japan Time: May 25th, at 8 am


Life coach? That's a profession? Really?!? I've never heard of it! Perhaps you've heard of a life coach but aren't quite sure exactly what it entails. Or maybe this is truly your first time. Join USJETAA and JET alum Jeff Singal who will kick off this event with a brief background on his journey from being a JET in Mie (1995-1997) to how he learned about life coaching as a profession and why and how he decided to enter this profession. We'll cover how to become a life coach and what a life coach does, and much, much more. Event hosted in partnership with JETAA Western Japan

This webinar is partially supported by the Japan Foundation CGP and CLAIR.

Event: Miso Ramen Cooking Class & Edamame Champ

June 2, 2021
3 pm PT / 6 pm ET

Let's learn how to make tasty miso ramen at home via zoom! You can cook along or just watch! All Kids & adults of all ages are welcome. Join with your family and friends!

The event will also include a short presentation about soy, including health benefits, culinary uses, and fun chopsticks competition using edamame (or any beans)!#EdamameChamp is here! Join TABLE FOR TWO’s annual Spring campaign. Learn about cooking with soy and your participation also helps children learn to eat healthier. Their partner organizations donate, 1 participant = food education for 1 child.

Event is in partnership with Table For Two. Event will not be recorded.

This webinar is supported by CLAIR / Japan Local Government Center.

Event: USJETAA Japanese Reading Group 

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, from 7:00-8:30 pm Eastern Time and is facilitated by Daniel Morales of How to Japanese. Sessions are not recorded.

June 8, from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Eastern Time

RSVP via Facebook or join by Zoom Link (no registration required)

In June, we'll be reading Dazai Osamu's 春昼 (Leisurely Spring Day). Dazai Osamu (1909-1948) is one of the highest regarded Japanese authors of the 20th century. He wrote novels such as The Setting Sun and No Longer Human and is known for his semi-autobiographical style. We are reading one of his journal entries.

Event: Gaming Industry Networking Session

June 16, 2021
4 pm PT / 7 pm ET
Japan Time: June 17, at 8 am

Interested in a job in the gaming industry? Have a job in the gaming industry and want to meet others in your field or give advice to those considering careers? Please join us at this virtual networking session. Join the session for as long or as little as you'd like. You will be able to move between breakout rooms throughout the session. Be prepared to have your camera and microphone on! 4 PM Pacific Time, 7 PM Eastern Time, 8 AM Japan Time (following day). Session will not be recorded.

Other News & Events

KIZUNA Publication

The Office of Global Communications of the Prime Minister's Office of Japan has published KIZUNA, a digital publication that introduces initiatives by the Japanese Government and attractions of Japan. New articles include: "Tokyo 2020: A Beacon of Hope," "A Small Town Asks 'Why?': Toward a Zero-Waste World," and more! The official publication KIZUNA can be found here

15th Japan International MANGA Award
Now - July 8 (Japan Time)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan launched the 15th Japan International MANGA Award with the goal to spread MANGA culture overseas and promote international cultural exchanges through MANGA. 

The application period is open until July 8 (Japan Time). Gold and Silver Award winners will be invited to Japan for 10 days to attend the award ceremony. For more information and application guidelines, please visit the link!

Japan Book Club: Earthlings (Sayaka Murata)
May 17
6:30 to 8:00 pm ET
Online via Zoom

Anyone is welcome to attend, and interested readers should email for more information.

Dreamlike, sometimes shocking, and always strange and wonderful, Earthlings asks what it means to be happy in a stifling world, and cements Sayaka Murata’s status as a master chronicler of the outsider experience and our own uncanny universe.

AAPI Hate and You - Activating Our Communities to Triumph
May 18 (U.S.) / May 19 (Japan)
5:00 pm PT / 9:00 am JT
Click here to register

Throughout American history, the families and communities of Asian American/Pacific Islander ethnicities have endured racism in various forms - from pop culture to academia to business. In this past year of COVID-19, this racism has become even more vicious, with popular reference to the disease as the "Chinese virus" - and compounded by the overall divisive environment and polarization that has underpinned social justice campaigns following the tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The escalating hate crimes are particularly pronounced in communities with a concentration of residents of Asian Pacific heritage, like the twin cities in the Bay Area, San Francisco, and San Jose. In this U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) event hosted by the NorCal region, we will get up close and personal with the AAPI Hate phenomenon that has disrupted the lives of many of our Asian and Asian American friends and neighbors with abuse both physical and profoundly mental in nature.

Future of Women in Science Virtual Discussion
May 18 (U.S.) / May 19 (Japan) 
7:30 pm EDT / 8:30 am JST
Register Here

Join the OIST Foundation and OIST for The Future of Women in Science Virtual Discussion and Launch of The Rita R. Colwell Impact Fund for the Advancement of Women in Science. The discussion includes leading scientists from the U.S., Japan, and other nations to explore the importance of diversity in scientific research, to discuss ways to ensure women thrive at OIST and other scientific institutions, and to discern a global leadership role OIST can play in this effort.

Sustainability at the Forefront: Global Japanese Companies' Initiatives
May 19
7:00 pm - 8:15 pm (EDT)
Japan Society Webinar

Japan will be fully embracing sustainability for the upcoming Summer Games, contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, these goals cannot be realized without meaningful engagement by global companies, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Japanese corporations, in particular, are stepping up to help fight pressing environmental and social issues, with some moving towards zero carbon buildings and others teaming up with nonprofits to protect the oceans and marine life. What are global Japanese companies’ stances on SDGs and how are they contributing to a sustainable and resilient world? In this webinar, international experts and business leaders discuss SDG trends, SDG initiatives by global Japanese companies, and their vision for the future.

The State of U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: What’s Working and What’s Needed
May 20
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EDT
Zoom Webinar, Register Here 

Sasakawa USA is pleased to host a virtual event on May 20, featuring Mr. Kenichiro Mizoguchi, Mr. Shinsuke Takahashi, and Ms. Misato Kogure, representatives of three Japanese private sector firms, for a discussion of U.S.-Japan economic ties in the context of the broader U.S.-Japan strategic partnership.

Japan became the largest source of foreign direct investment in the United States in 2019, surpassing the United Kingdom. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga underscored the importance of cooperation on economic initiatives during their meeting on April 16th. Yet, there is still room to work on challenges, including how to bring the U.S. back into the CPTPP and balancing competition and cooperation with China. In their presentations, our speakers will discuss their firm’s approach to investment and business operations in the United States and their expectations for the U.S. to build strong U.S.-Japan business ties. Please join Sasakawa USA for this special discussion of a growing area of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

This gathering is being held as part of Sasakawa USA’s Policy Briefing Series, which aims to engage the Washington, D.C. academic and policymaking community on key issues impacting U.S.-Japan relations.

Inaugural Chicago Japan Film Collective
May 25th - 31st

Don't miss out on the inaugural Chicago Japan Film Collective, the first ever Japanese film festival to be held in the Midwest! The virtual festival will feature nine films and is intended to spark conversations about culture and to facilitate understanding between Japan and the Midwest region.

It will take place from May 25th - 31st and tickets can be purchased at the Chicago Japan Film Collective website.

JETAA Chicago members can receive a $1 discount code for members to use on tickets, so if you are interested in receiving this code, please contact them at

Walking the Tōkaidō: A Self-Guided Multi-Disciplinary Experience
June 1 – August 31

The Five College Center for East Asian Studies (FCCEAS) is now accepting applications from K-12 educators and the general public for Walking the Tōkaidō: A Self-Guided Multi-Disciplinary Experience. Walk (or run or bike) the 310 miles from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto at your own speed and learn about Japan while you do it! Log your miles on a virtual platform and view the route via Google Street View. At each of seventeen milestones, participants will receive an e-mail with historical and cultural information about the places they “visit” during their journey.

Learn more and register here.

Registrations will be accepted through June 30, 2021. This program is free for K-12 educators and available to others for a $7 registration fee. Accommodations are available for those who are not able or choose not to walk. This project is supported by CGP.

Japan Book Club: Confessions (Kanae Minato)
June 14
6:30 to 8:00 pm ET
Online via Zoom

The DC-based Japan book club has some upcoming events. Anyone is welcome to attend, and interested readers should email for more information.

After calling off her engagement in wake of a tragic revelation, Yūko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, four-year-old Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yūko has given up and tendered her resignation. But first she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Japan Book Club: Tokyo Ueno Station: A Novel (Yu Miri)
July 12
6:30 to 8:00 pm ET
Online via Zoom

The DC-based Japan book club has some upcoming events. Anyone is welcome to attend, and interested readers should email for more information.

Winner of the 2020 National Book Award in translated literature and a New York Times notable book of the year. A surreal, devastating story of a homeless ghost who haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations. Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history, from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that ended his days living in the vast homeless village in the park, to the destruction of the 2011 tsunami, and finally the announcement of the 2020 Olympics. Through Kazu's eyes, we see daily life in Tokyo buzz around him and learn the intimate details of his personal story, how loss and society's inequalities and constrictions spiraled towards this ghostly fate, with moments of beauty and grace just out of reach.

Japan Writers Conference 2021
October 16-17
Seeking presenters, learn more here.

The 15th annual Japan Writers Conference will be held in October this year. The organizers are now looking for writers, editors, and publishers to give presentations on the art, craft, and business of writing. If you are a writer, now is a good time to think about taking part. Many JETs have participated in this event over the years!


Thank you to our grantors, program partners, and donors!

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.

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