Japan/America News

Keep up to date with news about the Japan/Kentucky connection by reading it here. Connect to our RSS feed to keep up with new content in any feed aggregating program such as Google Reader.

News may be submitted through the JASK office: programs@jask.org. Comment on articles to share your opinions.
  • 31 Jan 2011 11:26 AM | Anonymous member

                If you are an educator or you know somebody who is, you may want to take note.  The Keizai Koho Center is extending its annual invitation to visit Japan to teachers, administrators, and faculty of college education programs.  The trip is tentatively scheduled to leave on June 29.  It will last ten days and guests will have an opportunity to meet with Japanese teachers, business leaders, and scholars.

    The Keizai Koho Center (KKC) is an independent, non-profit organization based in Tokyo.  Supported entirely by the private sector, the KKC helps its corporate supporters increase their understanding of the environment in which they operate.  The KKC was founded in 1978 in response to public criticism of corporations during the oil crises of the 1970s.  Today the KKC’s activities are global in scope.  Their invitation programs, symposiums, publications, and education-related events keep people informed and help them connectundefinedfostering communication throughout society and across borders and bringing valuable knowledge to individuals, the business community, and all of society.

    The trip to Japan for educators is an exciting program that has been a big success in the past.  Ms. Alicia Vinson, World Language Specialist with Fayette County Public Schools, took part in the trip in 2009 and had a great time.  We hope that you or someone that you know will be able to join in this year and bring back some great stories.

    Applications must be received by Friday, February 11.  Here are a few tips for completing your application:

    • Read the eligibility requirements before beginning your application. Only applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered.
    • A strong proposal is critical for your acceptance as a fellow.  Read the lesson plans from past fellows to better understand the things you will learn on the trip.
    • Articulate a well thought out plan in your proposal on how you will disseminate your knowledge from the trip to your school, community and beyond.
    • Make sure that you apply on time and with all required documents. Only complete applications will be considered.
    • Questions? Contact Kelly Chaney, program assistant, at kchaney@us-japan.org.

    Click here for more information about the trip to Japan.  Click here if you would like to begin your application, now. 

  • 25 Jan 2011 11:57 AM | Anonymous member

                Scientific cooperation between Kentucky and Japan is growing every day.  A local non-profit and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have just launched a new mission to the International Space Station. 

    On January 22nd, JAXA successfully launched a rocket carrying its HTV2 unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station.  The launch took place at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.  On board the HTV2 are three projects developed by local non-profit Kentucky Space and its partner NanoRacks. 

                Kentucky Space LLC is a non-profit initiative of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.  It works with businesses and universities (including Morehead State and the University of Kentucky) to design and develop educational, R&D, and entrepreneurial space platforms.  NanoRacks, LLC is a Houston-based enterprise that is dedicated to provide economical, regular access to the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station.  To this end, NanoRacks and Kentucky Space have developed a low-cost module by which schools and other relatively small organizations can perform zero-gravity research on the International Space Station.  This zero-gravity research module is dubbed CubeLabTM.

                JAXA has agreed to cooperate with Kentucky Space and NanoRacks to get some of the CubeLabTM projects to the International Space Station on board its HTV2 spacecraft.  The three Kentucky Space/NanoRacks missions on board the Japanese spacecraft are:

    • An experiment from Ohio State University investigating the effects of microgravity on noncrystal growth.
    • A payload developed by Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California investigating growth dynamics of particular plants that might be used for human consumption on extended space missions.
    • A special microscope facility developed by NanoRacks and designed for future International Space Station experiments.

    The Japanese HTV2 spacecraft is expected to dock with the International Space Station and unload the Kentucky Space/NanoRacks projects on January 28th.  We look forward to even more cooperation between Japanese and Kentucky scientific organizations in the future.

  • 04 Jan 2011 2:02 PM | Deleted user
    JASK members bid farewell to 2010 at the Karaoke Bonenkai on December 2.  The Crowne Plaza: Campbell House Inn hosted us at their Bogart's Lounge.  Alongside a chocolate fountain and delicious foods, we also ate sushi and enjoyed drinks.  Thanks to Green Metals and to CMWA for sponsoring the sushi.  

    The singing was... well, loud.  Kazuo Konuma brought the house down (and won the Golden Mic award) with his blasting: "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi.  Most of the crowd thought it was the real version of the classic rock song!  

    Enjoy the pictures we snapped.  If you have your own photos, send them our way: programs@jask.org.  

  • 04 Jan 2011 10:55 AM | Deleted user
    We hope you all noticed the story in the Lexington Herald Leader about Japanese language-teaching at schools in Lexington.  Ms. Alicia Vinson and many others have worked hard to keep Japanese language education a priority in our schools.  The teachers work hard as well.  Most of all, our kids work hard to learn Japanese.  

  • 01 Dec 2010 12:46 PM | Anonymous member

    Dear JASK friends,

    My name is Toshiko Tachihara. I look forward to meeting all of you at events and by phone and email.  I am very happy to join JASK – I have worked in education most of my life and especially enjoy helping cultures connect. 

    To tell you a bit about myself, I was born in Tokyo and raised in Chiba. I graduated from Tokyo’s Chuo University in 1997. For the next three years, I worked in Mejiro University’s Office of International Affairs.  In this position, I assisted international students in everyday needs, such as part-time jobs and housing and scholarship applications.  I also did translation work from Chinese, Korean, and English into Japanese.  From there, I worked at Asahigaoka High School in Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, for six years.  I taught mainly English, but also Korean for four years and Chinese for one year.  Working with such diverse students had its challenges, but I enjoyed teaching and learning from my students.  I moved with my husband to Madison, Wisconsin in the fall of 2006 for his work as a post-doctoral fellow.  We moved again in 2008 to Lexington, for a new opportunity with the University of Kentucky. 

    I learned about the project manager position at JASK through the Asia Center at UK.  This is my first position in the United States, and I feel that I am very fortunate to get an opportunity to work here.  Kana has been kind to visit our office to help with my training (thanks to Hitachi for being flexible) so I am learning a lot, quickly.  I hope to meet you all soon, as occasion permits. 



  • 01 Dec 2010 12:22 PM | Anonymous member

    Nearly 200 guests listened to more than ten presenters at the “Mindset of Monozukuri” Seminar hosted by both JASK and JETRO on November 18 in Lexington.  In addition to insightful instruction on the mindset that has built Japanese manufacturing excellence, the audience heard from Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.  In his speech, he challenged the companies represented to “make sure that as things change…over the next ten to fifteen years, we position ourselves to change also.”


    Consul General Sato, who came up from Nashville to address the seminar, thinks that right now it will be hard for Japanese companies to invest more in Kentucky, or any other part of the world.  However, he does believe that further innovations can provide more opportunities for future investment and jobs.     

    A common sentiment among participants at the Monozukuri Seminar was that companies need skilled laborers who are expert in their manufacturing discipline.  Some tasks, according to Trade Specialist Hiroaki Ishii, can only be done by skilled workers.  Even though this is a technology-intensive era of production, many companies and manufacturers still value and desire such skilled labor and ideas for the future.

    A mindset of “monozukuri”, a mindset of “making things”, involves innovative thinkers and talented people.  This is what we will continue to build in Kentucky.  Special thanks to partnering organizations, to the Hyatt Regency, and to our great volunteers for bringing together a wonderful event.  

  • 01 Dec 2010 10:41 AM | Anonymous member

    In September at the Golf Classic, JASK received a monogrammed prize cup from Consul General Hiroshi Sato in Nashville.  The winning team decided to rotate the “Consul General’s Cup” so each could display it in their office.  Now it is on tour in Kentucky!  The winners are:

    Jason Lee, Wyatt Tarrant & Combs LLP
              Toshiharu Tanaka, Central Motor Wheel America (CMWA)
              Cale Ort, Stratosphere Quality
              Adam Hunt, Aramark

    Until last week, Jason Lee displayed the prize in the lobby of his firm’s Lexington office.  Mr. Tanaka and the CMWA President, Bernie Polzin, picked up the prize to bring it proudly back to Paris, Kentucky, to display at their plant.  Also pictured (far right) is Glen Krebs, former JASK Chairman, from Wyatt Tarrant & Combs.


    As the picture shows, the traveling trophy is worth displaying proudly!  See it in person at CMWA if you have occasion to visit, or perfect your golf game to see if you can’t win it next September!  Congratulations again to the four winners and their companies and special thanks to Consul General Sato for keeping our competition fierce (and friendly).

    Pictured above and to the left are all four players of the winning team, in addition to Consul General Sato and Glen Krebs, former JASK Chairman (Left to right: Adam Hunt, Toshiharu Tanaka, Jason Lee, Cale Ort, Consul General Sato, and Glen Krebs).

  • 27 Oct 2010 12:43 PM | Anonymous member

    Trust among colleagues at work is a critical factor in company performance, especially during our current economic downturn.  However, building trusting relationships may be particularly difficult when employees come from different national cultures.  To better understand the process of building trust between Japanese and local employees within Japanese companies in the USA, JASK has teamed up with cross-cultural researchers from the Rutgers Business School.  We are enthusiastic about this partnership as the work of these researchers has received recognition from both the Honjo International Scholarship Foundation and the Japanese-American Association of New York.

    This partnership is now looking for Japanese firms located in Kentucky (or region in close proximity) that are interested in exploring participation in this study.  Though certain things must be included in this Japanese-local “matched set” questionnaire, this would be a great opportunity to better understand the opinions of your employees regarding some of the current issues at your organization.  Topics like turnover intention, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and endorsement of future organizational changes are examples of such topics.  As it stands, the survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.  Though we would prefer a traditional paper-and-pencil approach, online deployment can be arranged.  In any case, there will be no direct costs for participation as all expenses related to administering the survey will be paid by the researchers.

    If interested, each company will receive anonymous data from its individual participating employees as well as select aggregated data from all participating companies.  With appropriate permissions, a presentation of select results at a JASK event or other venue can be organized.  We look forward to discussing how this research project can benefit your company.


    Please direct inquiries to:

    Primary Researcher: Justin Kraemer

    Email: jkraemer@andromeda.rutgers.edu

    Phone: (862) 237-7757




    Executive Director of JASK: Matt Krebs

    Email: matt@jask.org

    Phone: (859) 224-7001


  • 01 Oct 2010 3:18 PM | Anonymous member

    Nearly 100 golfers enjoyed perfect weather and great competition at the 2010 "Consul General's Cup."  

    We thank our many sponsors and congratulate our golfers.  This important fundraiser has brought together Japanese and Americans to golf for 19 years.  


    The 1st place team received the beautiful Consul General's Cup, along with two tickets each to the World Equestrian Games.  They shot 13 under-par.   

    Jason Lee of Wyatt Tarrant Combs LLP   

    Cale Ort of Stratosphere Quality LLC

    Adam Hunt of Wyatt Tarrant Combs LLP

    Toshihara Tanaka of CMWA

    The 2nd Place team received $50 Gift Certificates to local restaurants.  11 under-par (by scorecard playoff).                                      

    Chris Gilles of Crowe Horwath                             

    Scott McBroom of Hitachi Automotive Products 

    John Bremer of Rainmaker Hospitality, LLC 

    Hiroshi Degawa of TG Kentucky 


    The 3rd place team received $20 Tachibana Gift Certificates.  11 under-par.

    Craig McAnelly of Bluegrass Industrial Foundation

    Hideyuki Shigi of Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems, Inc.

    Osamu Ushio of TMMK 

    Suk-kyu Koh of Chrysan Industries, Inc.


    Other Players won contests on individual holes: 

    2nd Hole for Longest Drive- Yukinori (Joe) Ayata of Topy America, Inc. 

    8th Hole for Longest Putt- Shinji Yanagawa of Vuteq 

    10th Hole for Longest Drive- Kenny Nashimoto of Hitachi Automotive Products 

    15th Hole for Longest Putt- Jay Takaoka of International Crankshaft Inc 

    16th Hole for Closest to the Pin- Kazuhiro Suye of East Accounting 

    18th Hole Longest Drive- Cale Ort of Stratosphere Quality LLC 

  • 03 Sep 2010 6:17 AM | Deleted user
    We estimate around 2,500 came to celebrate Japan in Kentucky on August 21 at the JAPAN! Summer Festival.  The event has grown in each of its first three years.  Held again at Jacobson Park, we moved to a quieter spot with more shade and more space.  Thank you to those who attended for your feedback.  The Festival, organized by a committee of volunteers, is becoming a staple of Summer in Kentucky. 

    Among ten contestants in the Japan Idol Contest, the judges attentively scored and selected Special Mack, a student of Japanese at UK, as the winner.  Special won $1,000 from the Trim Masters Charitable Foundation.  All of the contestants sang courageously in Japanese in front of more than a thousand people.  The judges said they deliberated long about which contestant should win.  Congratulations to all for stepping up and

    Another highlight was music from Tomoko Yonenaga, master performer on the Japanese koto.  Ms. Yonenaga's music floats across the busy Festival, conjuring images of ancient Japan.  Hundreds of people set up chairs and sat to watch as she glided across the strings of her koto.  She was joined on stage by Tim Lake, one of Kentucky's finest Bluegrass banjo musicians.  The two musical traditions combined with duets, including: My Old Kentucky Home. 

    Four restaurants: Tachibana, Seki, School, and Hananoki, brought Lexington's finest Japanese food to the park.  Kids and adults played Japanese games, learned about Japanese culture, and shopped for Japanese goods. 

    To close out our evening, the crowd joined Japanese ladies in kimono for a Bon Odori dance, circling together in a dance commemorating ancient coal-miners in Japan.  As the sun set on our third Summer Festival and Kentuckians danced with their Japanese friends, it was easy to see why our nations have become such good friends. 

    Thank you to our sponsors for making the Summer Festival possible. 

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