Meet our Grantees

October 26, 2017 – 

In 2012 Deborah Dash Moore, Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, presented her research on American Jewish history in a series of lectures at the University of Kitakyushu in Japan. Her work interested many Japanese students and scholars, particularly women, who found similarities and shared experiences in her seminar.

Moore is one of the many American historians granted a two-week Japan Residencies Program fellowship facilitated by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and the Japan Association for American Studies (JAAS), with support from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. Moore, now chair of the OAH/JAAS committee, says “It’s an interaction among a diverse group of people that allows for professional and personal growth, often sparking long-term relationships.”

The program, which began in 1997 sends two OAH scholars to Japan each year. The  awardees travel to assigned host institutions in different parts of Japan. There they offer six lectures to undergraduates and graduate students, creating scholarly dialogue and exchange, and contributing to the expansion of scholarly networks among students and professors of American history in both countries.

The institutional grant from JUSFC has typically covered housing and the seminars. The grant also allows three Japanese graduate students studying in the United States to attend the OAH annual meeting, providing opportunities for networking with other many scholars. In 2017 Rikkyo University and Osaka University hosted the American scholars. “One of the major highlights was having both scholars attend the JAAS annual meeting at Waseda University,” said Professor Akiyo Okuda of Keio University and JAAS… » READ MORE

August 28, 2017 – 

Eighty-three years ago, before World War II, students concerned about the relationship between the United States and Japan created the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC). JASC is a student-led exchange that allows young people from each country to spend a month together learning, growing and finding new ways to build the bilateral relationship.

In 2008, the Korea-America Student Conference began, which

then led to the creation of a parent organization, International Student Conferences (ISC). Both programs work to identify future leaders for the Asia-Pacific region to expand interest in and strengthen relationships between the countries.

JUSFC recently spoke with ISC’s Executive Director Linda Butcher. Butcher says the mission and values of JUSFC and ISC-JASC are closely aligned, both working to strengthen the U.S.-Japan partnership through education, culture and intellectual conversation. “As an institutional grantee, we’re very fortunate to have JUSFC’s support. These relationships are stronger because that financial support allows us to continue the conversation,” Butcher adds.

JASC is the first and oldest student-led exchange program. Benefits of participating include professional growth, leadership skills development and increased cultural understanding.

“The confidence that the students gain through speaking opportunities is inspiring,” Butcher says. The program helps expand communication skills and gain insight beyond media headlines and stereotypes. Alumni report the program changed their life and many continue to stay engaged with the U.S.-Japan relationship.

This year, JASC is hosting its 69th conference, bringing together 72 Japanese and American students of all backgrounds and perspectives. Host cities include Tokyo, Kyoto, and first-time host prefectures Ehime and Mie.

A… » READ MORE

August 2, 2017 – 

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C., August 2, 2017: The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today that a group of five outstanding artists from the United States have been selected to participate in the 2017 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program. The artists will travel to Japan during the 2018 calendar year to pursue their residency. Since the program’s inception in 1978, more than 170 U.S. artists, representing a diverse range of disciplines, have been selected to travel to Japan for this residency.

The 2017 group of U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program fellows includes:

Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem, Brooklyn, NY – Interdisciplinary Architects

Derek Gromadzki, Florissant, MO –  Translator and Author

Jose Alfredo Navarrete-Perez, Oakland, CA – Choreographer

Laurel Salinas-Nakanishi , Miami, FL – Writer

Jesse Schlesinger, San Francisco, CA – Visual and Social Practice Artist

“We are delighted to announce the new group of the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program”, said Paige Cottingham-Streater, Executive Director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. “The program continues to be a priority for the Commission as well as the National Endowment for the Arts as we promote cultural and artistic exchange between the United States and Japan.”

Since 1978, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the International House of Japan (I-House) and the Government of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs have administered the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program. Each year five leading U.S.-based artists, representing all genres, are selected to spend three… » READ MORE

June 20, 2017 – 

In 2014, JUSFC awarded the Mansfield Foundation an institutional grant for its U.S.-Japan Space Forum (USJSF), comprised of space policy experts from the governments of the United States and Japan, private sector, and think tank and academic communit

ies. The Foundation held meetings in Montana, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Tokyo, inviting informal discussion and dialogue about concerns and perspectives from all sides.

“The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission helped us establish this program,” Mansfield Foundation Director of Programs Ryan Shaffer noted. “The Foundation’s support for the bilateral relationship closely aligns with JUSFC’s mission. This grant makes this type of programming possible, further enriching and strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship. The Obama Administration and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe established a ‘Comprehensive Dialogue’ between the two countries (which continues under the Trump administration), bringing both countries together on space policy. Noting the increasing role of private sector innovation in our national space capabilities, the U.S.-Japan Space Forum provides a platform for private sector and other non-government experts to respond and contribute to this official dialogue, Shaffer explained.

Based on its series of meetings and discussions, the USJFC released Recommendations for the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Space Dialogues in July 2016. The Mansfield Foundation also published the report in Japanese.

Although their JUSFC grant has concluded, the Space Forum continues moving forward. This year its group met with four of Japan’s most important space entrepreneurs.

“Adding voices like theirs to our dialogue, we continue to foster relationships and ideas that are enriching space policy discourse within each country… » READ MORE

May 8, 2017 – 

The Japan U.S. Friendship Commission is pleased to support the National Association of Japan America Societies’ (NAJAS) Richard J. Wood Art Curator Series. This program offers a series of talks at Japan-America Societies by curators of Japanese art at major museums in the United States. The participating curators are well known in the field and represent some of the best known collections of Japanese art in the America.

NAJAS facilitates the signature events in this art series by selecting three Japan-America Societies (JAS) as hosts. The three JAS are competitively chosen from amongst NAJAS’ 37 member organizations.

On April 24, 2017, the Japan-America Society of North Carolina (JASNC) hosted the first talk of the 2017 Richard Wood Art Curator Series. “Our goal was to partner with museum curators and share their wonderful collections of Japanese art with Japan-America Society cities throughout the United States.,” explains NAJAS President Peter Kelley. “Curators give presentations about their favorite objects in the home museum’s collection, who the collectors were and why the art is important.”

In North Carolina, Dr. John Carpenter of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art presented the conference’s keynote address at the Ackland Art Museum on the topic, “The Three Perfections of Japanese Art: Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy – Masterworks from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection,” which is currently on exhibit at The Met. “These human interest stories regarding the collectors are just as appealing as the art,” adds Peter Kelley. “It is important to mix the art with the fascinating… » READ MORE

April 13, 2017 – 

With degrees in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and in Interactive Telecommunication from NYU, Alex Dodge’s work combines the promise of technology as it interacts with and shapes human experience. He focuses his attention as an artist between new media and traditional fine art disciplines including painting, printmaking, woodworking and sculpture. His work is in the collections of the Museum

of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Dodge was awarded a JUSFC Creative Artist Fellowship in 2016. He traveled to Japan in October 2016 to pursue his interests in technology and traditional woodworking.

On the technology side, working at a pure code level led him to create generative systems that can build self-evolving sculpture and other art. Dodge put his ideas into motion by experimenting with language, writing code for programs that would generate new words that were statistically similar to real words but did not have any meaning.

“I took a Japanese language class in high school and fell in love with it,” he explains. “Using Japanese as my model, the idea was to create an empty container of meaning that could be experienced much like art.”

These language programs evolved into physical, visual forms, generating billions of unique shapes, similar to Tetris shapes that self-formed and assembled based on the conditions of their environment.

Dodge combined this fascinating project with his interest in Japanese joinery, a form of traditional woodworking. Two years before, he had contacted… » READ MORE

March 14, 2017 – 

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is delighted to announce that two outstanding scholars from the United States have been selected to participate in the 2017 Fellowship Program for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan. The Fellowship is a joint activity of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Awards support research on modern Japanese society and political economy, Japan’s international relations, and U.S.-Japan relations.

Aaron S. Moore Arizona State University Engineering Asian Development: The Cold War and Japan’s Post-Colonial Power in Asia

Amy Borovoy Princeton University Organ Donation and Medical Practices in Modern Japanese Culture

For more information on the Fellowship, please attend NEH’s panel at the Association of Asian Studies’ meeting this week. March 18, 10:45a.m., Birchwood Ballroom, Sheraton Centre Toronto. Please also visit  NEH’s website.

March 13, 2017 – 

In 2014 the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission awarded an institutional grant to the East-West Center (EWC) in Washington, D.C. to support their Japan Matters for America website project. With JUSFC’s help, EWC created an online platform that houses comprehensive and multi-activity data to showcase Japan’s critical importance to the United States, and vice versa.  Satu Limaye, Director of EWC in Washington, created the Asia Matters for America initiative. Asia Matters for America brings together ideas of innovation, leadership and international understanding of the overall U.S.-Asia relationship, with a deeper focus on ASEAN, South Korea, Australia, China, India, Taiwan and Japan.

“After we completed the initial Asia Matters for America project, we felt the need to dig deeper into Japan because of its important range of relationships at the national, state and local level,” Satu recalls. The Japan Matters for America initiative launched in 2009 with two initial components — a dual-language publication that provided graphics, analysis and data, followed by populating the website with all the research and data.

“We’re very grateful for JUSFC’s generous support toward this effort,” Satu said. “We could not have built this key interactive resource — for policymakers, congressional members and staff, teachers, students and anyone interested in learning about U.S.-Japan relations — without the initial grant.” When Prime Minister Abe addressed a joint session of Congress in 2015, highlighting the strong relationship between both nations, the Japan Matters for America site was mentioned in a “Dear Colleague” letter.

The website is continually updated with stories, blog posts… » READ MORE

March 6, 2017 – 

JUSFC will host a roundtable discussion at the annual conference of the Association of Asian Studies in Toronto on March 16, 2017 to address why Japanese language study is important and the ways in which to secure interest and support for language study among the next generation of students.  Here, we are highlighting the American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ), a longtime JUSFC grantee, which works to promote study of the Japanese language at all levels of instruction in the field and to broaden and deepen knowledge and appreciation of Japan and its culture.

Since 1997, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission has been a strong supporter of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ). In addition to administering scholarships, AATJ provides support and professional development opportunities for more than 1500 teachers and scholars throughout the United States.

Every year, AATJ awards scholarships to hundreds of students, mostly undergraduate sophomores and juniors. The students who apply and are awarded these scholarships major in Japanese or Asian studies; many are also interested in Japanese art, engineering and popular culture. Susan Schmidt, Executive Director of AATJ, has been with the organization since its establishment and has seen a big culture shift over the years. “Back in the early 1990s, students were interested in Japan because of the business opportunities, whether that meant starting a career in business or physically working in Japan,” Schmidt notes. “In recent years, a lot of young people are interested in the pop culture that has emerged in Japan;… » READ MORE

February 21, 2017 – 

Cultural researchers Sue Mark and Bruce Douglas of MarkSearch were awarded the Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship in 2016 and traveled to Japan in May 2016 for a six-month residency. Sue and Bruce are passionate about experiencing different ways of living and viewing the world through another perspective. They do this by viewing people and places through their creative lens.

They are no strangers to living abroad. In 2013, they traveled to Portugal to research the disappearance of handicraft and agricultural practices in a region comprising 26 villages. When they learned they would be living in Japan, they began intensive Japanese study. While Bruce learned to read and write, Sue worked on conversation and listening comprehension. With their combined Japanese language skills, they were able to communicate with Japanese locals.

Their main goal while in Japan was to learn about how architectural traditions are shared over time, and how these traditions may change as time goes on. Their creative process blends artistic, visual and performative work with sociology and anthropology.  Sue and Bruce made Kanazawa, Ishikawa their home in Japan. Kanazawa is one of the few Japanese cities that was not destroyed during World War II or harmed by any natural disaster. Much of the traditional architecture — such as the Machiya, traditional townhouses from the Edo period (1603-1867) — are still intact. These historic homes function as both residences and businesses. Sue and Bruce were interested in understanding local policies and the process of Machiya renovation, especially because more than 200 Machiya in… » READ MORE