Six Japanese local legislators and Diet staffers visited Washington DC, Rhode Island, and Colorado from April 27–May 10 as part of the 25th Japanese delegation of the US-Japan Young Political Leaders Exchange Program, which is co-sponsored by JCIE and the American Council for Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). While in Washington DC, the delegation was briefed by Steve Walker, the deputy political director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on the US presidential campaign system. Additionally, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae shared his perspective with the delegation on the current state of US-Japan relations.
While in DC, they also met with Thad Inge (Deputy Assistant Administrator, US Small Business Administration) for a discussion on the role of small and medium-sized businesses in the US economic recovery, Robert Chiappetta (Manager of Government Affairs, Toyota Motor North America) to explore the various lobbying activities in the US, and Trevor Potter (member, Caplin & Drysdale) to be briefed on the US campaign finance laws. On their final day in DC, the group visited the US Department of State to speak with Director Mark Knapper of the Office of Japanese Affairs and Adam Meier from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
After Washington DC, the delegation traveled to Providence and Newport, Rhode Island where the group was hosted by Amy Rice, a former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. In Providence, the group met with a wide range of state officials from the legislature, executive, and judicial branches and were able to observe the House in session during the historic passage of the same-sex marriage legislation to make Rhode Island the tenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage. The group also learned about Rhode Island’s education system through visits to a local charter elementary school and to Brown University.
The team then departed for Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado where they were hosted by the El Pomer Foundation, and welcomed by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and Attorney General John Suthers. They explored different aspects of Colorado’s political system through meetings with judges of the fourth judicial district, city legislators, and a county commissioner. Once in Denver, the delegation met with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Consul General Ikuhiko Ono, and Governor John Hickenlooper’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jamie Van Leeuwen. Throughout the trip, the delegation engaged in cultural activities, including a visit to the Pikes Peak Center concert hall, El Pomar Carriage Museum, Garden of the Gods, and a baseball match between Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees.
RIEKO ABE, Manager, International Department, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Headquarters
JUNYA HIYOSHI, Chief, Public Relations Department, New Komeito Party
KEIJU KONISHI, Staff, Local Assembly Members Division, Party Organization and Campaign Headquarters, Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP); Staff, Interest Group Policy Division, Party Organization & Campaign Headquarters, LDP
KAZUMA NAKATANI, Member, Kanagawa Prefectural Assembly (DPJ)
YOSUKI TAKANO, Member, Kumamoto Prefectural Assembly (LDP)
AKI YAMAMOTO, Member, Kyoto City Assembly (LDP)