Martin Iguchi, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, will travel to Japan as a member of the U.S.-Japan Council’s 2013 Japanese American Leadership Delegation from March 8 to 13.
Since 2000, the JALD program has sent delegations of 10 Japanese Americans, all of whom are leaders in their respective fields, to meet with Japanese leaders to exchange ideas and strengthen the relationship between the two countries, both important trading partners to one another.
“I see this as an opportunity to highlight the work that we are doing globally as well as looking to develop additional opportunities,” Iguchi said. “The mission really is to build stronger ties with one of the primary trading partners with the U.S.”
Iguchi was selected for this year’s delegation in December 2012 because of his track record of leadership and knowledge in medical research. His research has special relevance because of the challenges Japan is facing after the 2011 earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis.
“He was a great bridge between education and health,” U.S.-Japan Council Senior Communications Manager Laura Hayes said. “He has really expressed interest in forming partnerships down the line with Japanese counterparts in the area of health.”
For the first time this year, the delegation will travel to Fukushima Prefecture, the region most affected by both the 2011 nuclear crisis and earthquake. Arriving on the second anniversary of the incident, the delegation will participate in a symposium about recovery efforts, disaster management and revitalization of the region.
In addition to U.S.-Japanese relations and energy policies following the 2011 nuclear disaster, the delegation will address rising tensions with China and South Korea over disputed islands, immigration policy, economic policy and the growth of nonprofit business in Japan.
“I think it’s a really positive step for any entity, governmental or business, to speak with individuals from other cultures to better understand how their world views might be different,”
Iguchi said that the delegation was helpful to Toyota during its mass recalls in 2009 and 2010.
“The politicians and business leaders find that the feedback from a diverse group of Japanese Americans is useful in understanding how Americans are thinking about their country,” Iguchi said. “A few years ago during the crisis at Toyota, with their sudden acceleration, there was a lot of very frank discussion. They were able to help Toyota better understand how the American consumers were perceiving their response to the issue.”
Apart from his role as dean of the NHS, Iguchi is an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, where he formerly served as the director of the Drug Policy Research Center. He has conducted extensive research about drug addiction, drug policy, the criminal justice system, health disparities and HIV transmission.
The delegation will also meet with Japan’s political and business leaders in Tokyo, including ShinzoAbe, the new Prime Minister, and members of the Japanese National Diet, the country’s parliament.
“The whole point of this program is to go to Japan and while they are meeting with high-ranking individuals from all sectors of society … [and] to build people-to-people connections,” Hayes said. “It’s a two-way street; we want them to bring lessons home from Japan and share knowledge for the U.S.”
The JALD program allows members of the delegation to gain a better understanding of how each country is viewed by the other, according to Iguchi.
Hayes said that the U.S.-Japan Council hopes the delegates will maintain their relationships after returning from the trip.
“I think we both believe Japanese Americans play this unique catalytic role in maintaining a strong and vibrant U.S.-Japan relationship,” Hayes said.
Iguchi added that he hopes the trip will not only strengthen ties between Japan and the United States, but also allow him to promote Georgetown and the NHS abroad.