The 23rd Japanese delegation of the US-Japan Young Political Leaders Exchange Program visited the United States on July 16–29, 2011. During the course of their two-week visit, the six participants, who included prefectural and local officials, party policy staff, and Diet staff members, visited Washington DC, Minnesota, and Colorado to participate in a wide range of meetings and roundtables.
Starting their visit to Washington DC, the delegation discussed US-Japan bilateral relations with State Department Director of Japanese Affairs Rust Deming and with Japanese embassy officials. They also met with leaders from the National Republican Congressional Committee for a briefing on US political party structure and campaigning. In addition, the group visited the offices of Toyota Motor North America to discuss government-business relations in the United States.
In Saint Paul, Minnesota, the delegation was hosted by ACYPL program alumna Rima Kawas, senior policy advocate at Target Corporation. They visited the Capitol to meet with Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson as well as several Minnesota state representatives, including House of Representatives Member Sarah Anderson, alumna of the 2008 US Young Political Leaders Exchange delegation to Japan. They also visited the St. Paul City Council and Minneapolis City Hall to discuss local politics. The delegation trip took place during a unique time in Minnesotan political history, with the intense state budget negotiations and looming government shutdown in July 2011 providing a view into the US state-level political system. While in Minnesota, the group also met with members of the Japan America Society of Minnesota and traveled to the Pawlenty for President campaign office, Target corporate headquarters, and the University of Minnesota.
The delegation concluded its trip in Colorado, where the delegates were hosted by the El Pomar Foundation. In Colorado Springs, the delegation met with the Colorado City Council and other local leaders, including Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and Bill Hybl, chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation. They also toured the United States Air Force Academy and met with the young cadets studying there. In addition, the group traveled to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and learned about its work conducting research on promising renewable energy sources for the US Department of Energy. On their last day in Denver, the group met with Attorney General John W. Suthers and State Senator and ACYPL program alumnus Ted Harvey to more deeply explore Colorado state politics.
HIDEKI AMEMIYA, Leader, Organization Bureau, New Komeito Party
SATOSHI ARAI, Staff Member, Personnel Bureau, Liberal Democratic Party
KOICHIRO KOBAYASHI, Member, Okayama Prefectural Assembly (LDP)
KENJIRO KOSHIDA, Member, Hyogo Prefectural Assembly (DPJ)
NOBUKO NAKAMURA, Member, Nakano City Assembly (DPJ)
KAORI TOSAKA, Assistant to Member of the House of Representatives Chinami Nishimura (DPJ)