The National Association of Japan-America
Societies (NAJAS) in cooperation with The
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation (MMMF) will organize two delegations-American
and Japanese-of influential women to visit each others' country
and examine the policymaking processes. In December 2004, the U.S.
delegation will spend a week in Tokyo meeting their Japanese counterparts
in public service; visiting public and non-governmental organizations
whose mission is to focus on social policy; and sharing their experiences.
Our collaborators in Japan are the Women's Association for a Better
Aging Society, The Dawn Center and the Fusae Ichikawa Memorial Association.
Confirmed participants for the December 4-12, 2004 program include:
Karen Fraser, (D) District 22, Washington State Legislature.
Linda Gray, (R) District 10, Arizona State Legislature; Senator
Marilyn Jarrett, (R) District 19, Arizona State Legislature.
Sonja Nesbit, Professional minority staff member for the
U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
Sharon Sayles-Belton, Senior Fellow, Humphrey Institute,
former mayor of Minneapolis (1994-2001).
Karen Schwarzwalder, YWCA Executive Director, Columbus Board
of Education member and past president Columbus Board of Education.
Shirley Wilcher, President, Wilcher Global Diversity Consulting,
former executive director of Americans for a Fair Chance.
In July 2005, the Japanese delegation will spend a week in Minneapolis
and Washington, D.C. visiting their American counterparts. We will
also host a public forum in each country to exchange ideas about
how to effectuate social policy change in our communities; and establish
a website to disseminate information and resources.
Confirmed participants for the July 9-16, 2005 program include:
Kiyoko Fujii, President, Yokohama Women's Association for
Communication and Networking
Keiko Tamai, Senior Program Officer, Asia Foundation
Hiroko Mizushima, Member, House of Representatives (Democratic
Party of Japan)
Keiko Higuchi, President, Women's Association for a Better
Nakamura,Tsuyako, Professor, Doshisha University
Sachie Shikano, CEO,YWCA of Osaka
Mikiko Otani, Attorney,Otani Law Offices
Japan and the United States, as the world's two largest democratic
economies, face challenges in the next ten years in the areas of
aging population, healthcare and prescription medicine costs, and
education reform. The two countries work closely in global defense,
anti-terrorism, assistance to developing countries and economic
development. While cooperating on global issues of mutual interest,
both the U.S. and Japan have maintained very distinct domestic agendas.
Domestic issues in the areas of aging, health care, and education
tend to be the political platform of American women in public service.
It is no different for the Japanese women politicians. According
to a recent survey by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
(UNESCAP) for Asia and the Pacific, most Japanese elected women
said that they wanted to change local politics, particularly concerning
human rights of women and children. A growing number of women elected
officials in Japan and the United States suggests an opportunity
to bring together women in public service from both countries to
examine their country's policymaking process and engage in a long-term
dialogue that may bring about positive social policy change.