With loving fondness, the alumni of the US-Japan Council Emerging Leaders Program celebrate the memory of USJC’s founder, Irene Hirano Inouye. ELP was a vital part of Irene’s vision for the future of our community, and like so much of her work, she worked tirelessly to ensure its success. We are eternally grateful for our time together with her, blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her, and honored to be part of her everlasting legacy. We owe so much to Irene, but none more than this: she empowered us, believed in us, and trusted us with the future of our community. We will carry on Irene’s legacy in the manner she would have—with passion, resolve, and grace.


We love you, Irene.


Leading the future of the Japanese American community and the U.S.-Japan relationship.

What is ELP?

The USJC Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is one of the flagship leadership programs of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC). ELP identifies, cultivates, and empowers a new generation of Japanese American leaders to help build the future of USJC, the Japanese American community, and the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Each year, a new ELP class of Japanese American professionals aged 24-35 is selected from across public and private industry to attend the USJC Annual Conference, participate in leadership education, and become USJC Associate Members.

Program participants also join the dynamic ELP alumni network, which has had a profound and unique impact on USJC and its mission and share close personal and professional friendships that will last a lifetime.

Program Information

Annual Conference

The USJC Emerging Leaders Program participants attend the USJC Annual Conference and participate in a special orientation and leadership programming. In 2020, in lieu of an Annual Conference, USJC will be hosting the USJC Signature Series. The Signature Series is composed of a variety of virtual events from September through December.


After the Annual Conference, participants join the ELP Alumni community and become an Associate Member of the U.S.-Japan Council with one initial year of complimentary membership.

Program Benefits


Become connected to USJC’s international community of diverse leaders and develop professional skills, strengthen networks, and build powerful personal relationships.


Experience and contribute to USJC’s various programs, engaging the U.S.-Japan relationship locally, nationally, and internationally.


Become empowered as leaders, stakeholders, and mentors in the U.S.-Japan relationship through community engagement, cultural understanding, and engaging directly in U.S.-Japan relations.


More than just a network, ELP is a family. Build meaningful, lasting friendships with program participants, ELP alumni, and the members of the broader USJC communities.

Who can participate?

  • Japanese American professional, 24-35 years old
  • U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Resident of the United States or Japan
  • Available to attend the fall USJC Annual Conference (Note: In 2020, due to the cancellation of the USJC Annual Conference, participants will be expected to participate in a series of virtual events from October-December 2020)
  • Showcases a strong interest in U.S.-Japan relations through professional, academic, extracurricular or community involvement
  • Demonstrates leadership experience
  • Committed to continue to engage in U.S.-Japan Council programs and initiatives, regionally and/or nationally, after program


“To be able to meet and work with people who share the same passion for connecting the US and Japan through our own individual professions is empowering.”
- Kenshiro Uki, ELP Class of 2014

“My experience with ELP has had a more significant impact on my life than I ever could have imagined. ELP provides a supportive and likeminded family who quickly became a sounding board for ideas, thoughts, and aspirations.”
- Courtney Ozaki, ELP Class of 2017

“The greatest benefit for me is that as an emerging professional, the peers within ELP are a family of confidantes, mentors, and senpai I can trust.”
- Miki Sankary, ELP Class of 2015

“Through networks, mentors, and friendships, the program helps to provide the inspiration, connection, and knowledge to propel you forward in your career.”
- Craig Ishii, ELP Class of 2013

“Being an ELP has given me a powerful network of collaborators, from New York to Tokyo. Aside from my many friendships, the USJC has opened up professional opportunities for me that were previously unimaginable.”
- Steve Sakanashi, ELP Class of 2015

How to apply

ELP is now accepting applications for the class of 2018! All those who are interested and eligible are encouraged to apply now. Click below to get started.