Japan-America Grassroots Summit
John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange (U.S.)

Connecting Americans and Japanese Through Grassroots Exchange
#Webinar Alert

Join us Friday April 22
(Saturday April 23 in Japan) for: 

Same Game, Different Rules: the culture and practice of baseball in Japan and the U.S.
Spring CIE-U.S. Webinar

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of baseball in Japan, the CIE-U.S. presents a timely webinar of America's national pastime and Japan's most popular sport. It is the same game, but the cultural and practical differences are striking, providing an ideal window through which to understand two differing societies. Baseball brings people and cultures together just as the Japan-America Grassroots Summit run by CIE-U.S.does. Join us for this exciting deep dive into baseball and the impact it has had on U.S.-Japan relations.

Date & Time
U.S.:  Friday, April 22 @ 7 to 8:15 PM EST
Japan: Saturday, April 23 @ 8 to 9:15 AM JST

Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Former Ambassador of Japan to the U.S. and Former Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball 
Mr. Mariyon Robertson, Baseball authority, international business executive, teacher, author, and commentator 
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and former Co-Managing General Partner of the Texas Rangers 
Register Now!
Dear Friends of CIE-US:
Dear CIE-US friends and Families - Happy Almost Spring!

So here's where we are...and NOT the news I want to be giving you...Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) is that due to the pandemic, the planned Grassroots Summit in Wakayama this year is officially canceled.  This covid thing has hit Japan hard, and if you're following the news (am sure that you are), international visits and processes/procedures make planning for hosting a large group such as ours will be, impossible this year.  I/we don't expect much change to the visiting Japan guidance for the upcoming months, which makes timing/dates even more impossible.  I hope you understand and will continue to stay engaged AND involved in our programs - and those of your "home" Japan-America Societies, etc - which WILL  be great!!

Meantime,  we're working with CIE, to see if there's ANY potential for some sort of a "mini-summit" in Japan in the fall - which may involve American Citizens living in Japan, who serve in our businesses, educational programs or "Forward Deployed" military in Japan.  This might be a great opportunity for a small contingent and we promise to keep you posted!!

Two events we'll hold virtually are in work:
1) A webinar focused on baseball on April 22 @ 7:00 PM EST (Japan: April 23 @ 8:00 AM JST) - baseball is our national "Grassroots sport" in both countries - similarities and differences, priority on teamwork vs. the cult of the individual, history, icons, traditions, etc., will make this an exciting and relevant event! ⚾️ 
2)  We'll hold our second Grassroots Reunion as well - hosted by CIE - likely in June or july.  Last year's great event reunited alumni from the Miyagi and San Francisco Summits.  Expect this one to be more inclusive! 

We will continue to expand our outreach so that WHEN we can travel again to Japan for a Grassroots Summit, we've got a deep pool of people and families ready to sign on, including you and your children I hope!  

By the way, last year's outreach tripled our contact list which is now over 1,000....a good sign there's interest in our work and mission.

So as I said up front - not the news I want to be giving you, but don't want anyone to have false hope this year on what is a non-starter.  Please help me/us with your ideas on things that'll attract others to our mission of building relationships - please also stay engaged and give us feedback or ideas ANY time, enjoy our newsletters (contribute as an Alumni?).  Stay safe and in contact!  
Most Sincerely and ALL the best,
Jamie Kelly
President CIE-US
Support CIE-U.S. Today
CIE-U.S. Supported by $5,000 Gift from the Aratani Foundation

The CIE-US Board of Directors is pleased to announce an extremely generous sponsorship of $5,000 from the Aratani Foundation.  
"We are deeply appreciative of this support!” says Jamie Kelly, president of CIE-US.  Jamie adds, “The Aratani Foundation’s donation will help us continue presenting the largest and longest-running grassroots exchange between the U.S. and Japan".
The Aratani Foundation is a family foundation created by George and Sakaye Aratani.  Raised with deep Japanese principles and educated both in America and Japan, George learned the values of both cultures.  He was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, visionary and a pioneer in the Japanese American community.  George was also the founder of Mikasa® tableware and owner of the Kenwood Electronics Corporation.
Much of George’s philanthropy focused on the Japanese American community.  Among many other projects in LA’s Little Tokyo, he was key to the creation of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.  The JACCC's Aratani Japan America Theatre, and the Japanese American National Museum's George and Sakaye Aratani Central Hall are named after George and Sakaye.  They were also long-time supporters of the Japan America Society of Southern California.  At UCLA, the Aratanis endowed the U.S.'s first academic chair to study the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans and their efforts to gain redress.
George passed away in 2013 at the age 95.  He is survived by his wife and their two daughters.  To learn more, please enjoy Naomi Hirahara’s book, 
An American Son: The Story of George Aratani.
The CIE-US Board of Directors gratefully acknowledges and thanks the Aratani Foundation for its generous support!
Why Grassroots Summits are Important

by Matthew C. Perry
The free world, especially all democratic countries, is currently witnessing an intolerable military invasion on the democratic country of Ukraine.  This invasion is totally orchestrated by one person, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.  It is easy for some persons in democratic countries to cast aspersions and vilifications on all Russians during these hard times.  Even in the United States, some Russian restaurants have been vandalized, despite the fact that some are managed and staffed by Ukrainian Americans.  We need to remind ourselves that in non-democratic countries, the populace is not always exposed to the truth and can be greatly impacted by propaganda and “fake news” from official announcements and social media.  Even in the United States, where we pride ourselves on free press, the fake news and social media can overwhelmingly impact opinions of intelligent persons.  

Grassroots Summits, where groups of persons from two nations interact, are very viable and successful processes that can positively produce friendships that are so important to avoid conflict between two countries.  These one-on-one interactions have a way of incubating warm feelings that attendees spread through other contacts that they meet.  Summits organized by the Center for International Exchange (CIE) in Tokyo and supported by CIE-US, are conducted annually to continue the friendly relations between the US and Japan that were formally initiated by Commodore Perry during two expeditions to Japan in 1853 and 1854.  These diplomatic missions that culminated with the Treaty of Peace and Amity, were greatly aided by the earlier informal friendship between a young 14-year-old boy named Manjiro and a ship captain named, Whitfield.  In 1992, the CIE was officially established and named the John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange and continues this friendship today.

Although I have only been involved with Summits since 2009, my first association with a Japanese person interestingly was with a 17-year-old boy, named Takehisa Shimazu on July 14, 1953.  Much earlier on that day I had participated with a wreath laying at Commodore Perry’s gravesite with the boy’s father, Mr. Hisanaga Shimazu (1906-1990), Consul General in New York.  Later in his career he served as Japanese ambassador to New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand, Canada, and China.  His son, Takehisa (1936- ), worked for Isuzu Motors, Ltd., and other companies as an adult.  The occasion which occurred in Newport, RI, was the 100th anniversary, of Commodore Perry first trip to Japan in 1853.  It was during his second trip to Japan in 1854 that the Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed by the United States and Japan.

I was 12 years old at the time and knew nothing about Japan, except what my parents had told me about Commodore Perry and of course about World War II.  Takehisa and I met at Touro Park where the largest statue of Commodore Perry is located.  After ceremonies we sat together at the same table for lunch at the Hotel Viking.  As I matured, I realized that this friendly meeting in Newport with persons from Japan took place only seven years after the end of World War II and one year after the end of American occupation of Japan.

In recent years, I made indirect contact with Takehisa-san through two Japanese friends of mine (Mr. Toshiaki Taguchi and Ms. Hiroko Todoroki), who have been involved with cultural exchanges through CIE.   I learned that Takehisa-san is now 86 years old and living in Tokyo as a retired businessman.  Coincidentally, Takehisa has association with CIE as his cousin married Ambassador Yoshio Hatano., who was a former Chair of CIE. It would be exciting to meet Takehisa-san in Japan sometime in the future.  Cultural exchanges through Grassroots Summits are a good way to meet new friends in foreign countries, but also are a good mechanism to restore friendships with old acquaintances. 

Young Matthew Perry with young Takehisa Shimazu in 1953 near statue of Commodore Perry in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo from Providence Journal Bulletin newspaper by staff photographer.

Young Matthew Perry and Consul General, Hisanaga Shimazu, at Perry gravesite 1953 with Newport Mayor Dean Lewis. Photo by City of Newport staff


My next personal interaction with Japanese occurred 12 years later in Japan when I visited the monument dedicated to Commodore Perry in Kurihama by myself, while on leave from my US Navy ship moored in Yokosuka.  I wanted a picture of myself near the statue, so I asked a teacher, who was leading a school group tour.  He agreed to my non-verbal request and suggested he and school children join me.  I remember to this day the warm feeling I had to those students although none of us could communicate due to language barriers.  On many Summit trips I have learned that verbal conversation is not a barrier to making new friends and can actually be a benefit in learning about a new culture.

These personal connections in my younger years, although not part of Grassroot Summit activities, established the foundation for my initial understanding of a foreign culture.  I was recently impressed with comments made by former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who like me had contacts as a young man with a famous man in Russia.  He clearly recognized the value of learning about individual citizen friendships and not to judge a country by the actions of their leaders.  
We all need to share this compassion and understanding of our global citizens.

Navy officer Matthew Perry at Kurihama statue of Commodore Perry with teacher and school children in 1965.

At the Grassroots Summit I attended in 2013, I gave a lecture to a group in a local town.  After the lecture, a young female college student approached me and told me sternly that when she was in high school, she did not like Commodore Perry. While I tried to conceptualize a proper response, she followed up her comment that when she studied him more in college, she greatly respected him for his actions in Japan.  We parted company with big smiles and bowing to each other.  Her dramatic change in opinions came about through education and more thoughtful reflection on history.  These moments happen frequently and serendipitously at Summits when people of different cultures meet, interact, and find common ground.

Putin's war on Ukraine is horrible and the world must stay united against him and show compassion for the Ukrainians, but also the Russians, who are being misled.  The free world is uniting to sanction Russia, while aiding Ukraine with military and humanitarian supplies.  Putin will lose eventually, but unfortunately Ukraine people are suffering now.  The united front in favor of democracy will help to protect Japan from similar dictators in North Korea and China.  

Hopefully, now that the pandemic is ending, CIE will resume Summits and more Americans will visit Japan, and in the following year Japanese will visit the United States.  I hope these Summit trips will bring new friendships between our countries by way of the citizen ambassadors who attend them.  I have many friends in Japan and one of the first ones that I still contact is Ms. Hiroko Todoroki, whom I met in 2009.  She was the coordinator of all Summits for CIE until she retired a few years ago.  Recently she started a blog in two languages that includes articles I have written on some of the activities that occur on Summits.  I hope you visit the site at: .  Work for peace in the world and come join me on a future Grassroots Summit.
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The Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange-U.S. (CIE-US) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. All donations are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. 
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Articles appearing in the CIE-U.S. Newsletter are the personal opinion of writers and not official positions of the organization. 
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