The University of Nebraska at Omaha was host to the Walk in the U.S. Talk on Japan, a weeklong Japanese grassroots diplomacy mission across the United States.
Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi, a former member of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and retired Japanese ambassador to Spain and Brazil, and group of Japanese citizens in the private sector made up the cabinet for the tour.
Shimanounchi says that the tour’s mission is to help people get a better understanding of what is happening in Japan today, such as the most pressing issue of the rapidly aging population and decreasing fertility rate.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is encouraging corporations to increase the number of women in high-level positions.
Eriko Tawa, member of the delegation, works as a compliance officer at an investment bank in Tokyo and sees this change happening first hand.
“We are trying to increase the number of women in manager positions by 30 percent,” says Tawa, “In my department to zero to 22 percent in the past three or five year.”
This push to encourage woman involvement in the workplace is a reflection of a cultural shift in a traditionally male dominated society.
Tokuro Miyake, another delegate member, is a prime example of this because she is one of two women, the other, her sister, to be a professionally trained as a Kyogen performer.
Kyogen is a Japanese traditional comedic theatre and Miyake is the daughter of the 19th- generational head master of two traditional families of performers.
“My father had a strong belief that a lady can be a professional if given the opportunity to train professionally,” says Miyake, “I hope we can encourage other women in difficult situation.”
During the event, Shimanouchi discussed the importance of the U.S. military alliance in lieu of the risk posed by the frequency of North Korean and the increased activity by one country, in which he would not name, on the South China Sea.
Shimanouchi then addressed his support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that hopes to establish, “a predictable legal and commercial framework for trade and investment through mutually advantageous rules”.
Japan is the third largest market for Nebraska exports.
Shimanouchi says the current relationship between Japan and the state will only be strengthened if the legislation of the TPP goes into effect because of the reduction of import duties, such as the export of Nebraskan beef to Japan.
“The future of Japans economic relations with NE is very bright. Nebraska has many things to offer to Japanese firms,” says Shimanouchi, “high quality products beef corn, and other agricultural products and it is very attractive place for Japanese investment.”