US-Japan Women Leaders Dialogue

March–April 2021

JCIE is holding a three-session, online US-Japan Women Leaders Dialogue to convene top women leaders from varying walks of life. Two leading legislators, Hon. Seiko Noda and Hon. Diana DeGette, are the co-chairs for this series of meetings that are addressing “Advancing Women’s Leadership in a Time of Crisis.” 

This program builds on the first US-Japan Women Leaders Dialogue, held in September 2017, which was notable for its impact on the Japanese participants. It led to the creation of a Diet caucus to support young mothers and fathers in the legislature, as well as the launch of a foreign policy study group for women Diet members. This year’s dialogue is building on the discussions from that groundbreaking meeting. 

Much has changed since the first Dialogue. The #metoo movement came to the forefront in late 2017, and a growing number of American number of women ran for office in 2018 and 2020. Now, the largest number of women ever serve in the US Congress, and Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman ever elected to national office. Japan, meanwhile, has also made it a priority for women to gain more equal footing in both business and politics, with record numbers of women now in the workforce. However, the two countries remain low on the Global Gender Gap Index, with the US ranked 53rd and Japan coming in at 121st. Currently, the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a particularly outsized impact on women. Both Japan and the United States have seen gains for women start to reverse. 

The new US Congress and administration face the task of revitalizing alliances while tackling a health crisis, an economic crisis, and the need to heal deep political divisions. Meanwhile, both countries need each other to restore trust in global institutions, preserve peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, overcome the pandemic, and address many other shared priorities. All of these tasks have important implications for women’s roles and require their leadership.

Session 1: The Domestic Impact of the Crisis on Women and Shared Lessons for Building Greater Resiliency (March 23, 2021)

Session 2: The Pandemic and Beyond—Priorities for US-Japan Cooperation in the Context of the New Administrations (April 13, 2021)

Session 3: The Biden Administration and US-Japan Relations (April 23, 2021)

The dialogue was made possible through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the MRA Foundation.


The pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses in societies worldwide and particularly the inequities in terms of racial, economic, and gender disparities. It has also weakened public trust in government and science, which in turn has negatively impacted the ability to control the pandemic.

• How has the COVID crisis impacted Japanese and American women’s ability to participate in the workforce and advance in their careers?
• How can the post-pandemic recovery be leveraged to create new, more equitable systems and institutions for women in the US and Japan?
• How can women in politics work to promote greater trust in government and science in ways that can foster greater resiliency in the future?

Welcome & Introduction

Ms. Hideko Katsumata, Executive Director & COO, JCIE/Japan
Ms. Peggy Blumenthal, Chair, JCIE/USA; Senior Counselor to the President, Institute of International Education

Initial Remarks from Dialogue Co-Chairs

Hon. Diana DeGette, Member, US House of Representatives (D-CO)
Hon. Seiko Noda, Member, House of Representatives of Japan, Executive Acting Secretary-General, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

Remarks from Resource Persons

Ms. Sachiko Habu, Editor-in-chief, Nikkei xwoman
Ms. Sheryl WuDunn, Co-founder, FullSky Partners; Author; former journalist, New York Times; Pulitzer Prize winner for journalism

Moderated Discussion

United States

Co-chair | Diana DeGette

Member, House of Representatives (D-CO)

Co-host | Peggy Blumenthal

Chair, JCIE/USA; Senior Counselor to the President, Institute of International Education (IIE)

Susan Berresford

Former President, Ford Foundation

Suzanne Bonamici

Member, House of Representatives (D-OR)

Kara Carscaden

Vice President, Global Public Affairs, The Estee Lauder Companies

Barbara Dyer

Senior Lecturer and Executive Director, Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative, MIT Sloan School of Management

Chrissy Houlahan

Member, House of Representatives (D-PA)

Helena Kolenda

Program Director for Asia, Henry Luce Foundation

Debbie Walsh

Director, Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Rutgers University

Sheryl WuDunn

Co-founder, FullSky Partners; Author; Pulitzer Prize winner for journalism


Co-chair | Seiko Noda

Member, House of Representatives, Executive Acting Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

Co-host | Hideko Katsumata

Executive Director and COO, JCIE/Japan

Noriko Akiyama

Senior Political Writer, Asahi Shimbun

Rie Asayama

Executive Officer, Retail Business Unit & Quality Management Dept, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group/Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Sachiko Habu

Editor-in-chief, Nikkei xwoman

Tomoko Hayashi

Director-General, Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office of Japan 

Maiko Ichihara

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law and School of International and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University; Visiting Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Takae Ito

Member, House of Councillors (Komeito)

Takae Ito

Member, House of Councillors (Democratic Party for the People, DPFP)

Yayoi Kimura

Member, House of Representatives (LDP)

Yukako Maekawa

Senior Vice President, General Manager, Marketing Department of Management Service Division, NTT Learning Systems Corporation

Karen Makishima

Member, House of Representatives (LDP)

Hiromi Takase

 Member, House of Councillors (Komeito)


Kim Gould Ashizawa

Senior Advisor, JCIE/USA

James Gannon

Executive Director, JCIE/USA

Stephen McHugh

Assistant Program Officer, JCIE/USA

Hifumi Tajima

Chief Program Officer, JCIE/Japan

Stacy Thompson

Senior Legislative Assistant to Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

Yusuke Yashita

Policy Secretary to Hon. Maiko Tajima


Office of Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence