U.S.-Japan Innovators Network

U.S.-Japan Innovators Network

Communication, Arts & Culture, Education

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Welcome to Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. This Network builds on our 100-year history of fostering collaborative dialogue between Japan and the United States by bringing together innovation leaders from both countries to create the Innovators Network.

New opportunities are emerging for Japanese and Americans from a wide range of disciplines to explore fresh approaches to collaborative problem-solving. The “People” section of this website profiles some of the thought leaders involved in the Innovators Network, whose mission is to explore new ways Americans and Japanese can work together to find solutions to challenges facing both societies in today’s global context.

This website showcases the activities of the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network and its Innovators. For the individual innovators involved the Network, this is a place to share ideas and develop dialogue. For the public, it is a place to learn about the endeavors undertaken by these extraordinary individuals as the Network moves forward.

Thank you for visiting.

Daniel Rosenblum Vice President, Global Affairs Director, Corporate & Policy Programs Japan Society


The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network is a multidisciplinary network of emerging and established innovative leaders committed to creating a better world. Co-organized with The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network explores new potential for U.S.-Japan collaboration by connecting people and ideas through network-building exchanges, private retreats, Internet discussions, public symposia, and long-term projects. Since its inception in 2005, Network members have met in private retreats to generate ideas for collaboration, and wider discussion has been encouraged at a number of public forums featuring the work of the participants.

Recent Network initiatives in San Francisco, Tokyo, New York, and Kyoto have explored issues such as community revitalization, building essential skills for social innovators, new models for business entrepreneurialism, and the role of play in fostering creativity and innovation. Moving forward, Japan Society will be further expanding the Network, connecting innovative Japanese and Americans who are working to create social value and catalyze change for a better future.

For information about supporting the U.S.-Japan Innovators Project, please contact Daniel Rosenblum at (212) 715-1242 or by e-mail: innovators@japansociety.org

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News & Events

IN Public Symposium Explores Innovation and Recovery in NY and NO

May 20, 2008 - The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network held the public symposium Innovation & the Art of Future Building in New York on May 20 in order to explore innovative approaches to helping people envision a better future, whether it's a community coping with natural disaster, an individual rebounding from homelessness or online networks sharing information vital to recovery. Part of Japan Society's U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, the program was co-organized with MCG Jazz, Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. A second presentation took place Thursday, May 22, at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, LA.

For a summary of the event, please read Innovation & the Art of Future Building (PDF)

To listen to the participants' different perspectives on recovery and future building, please visit Innovators Podcasts on Japan Society's website.

More News

News Archive


April 28–May 3, 2008 Exchange Program: Learning from Disaster: Miyakejima and New Orleans, Part I New Orleans Learning from Disaster brings eight Americans together with eight Japanese from local governments and nonprofit organizations who were directly involved in response operations on the frontlines of two recent natural disasters, Miyakejima in Japan and New Orleans in the United States. In the first phase of this exchange program, eight Japanese discussed, with their American counterparts, problems they faced, the knowledge, skills, and experiences gained, recovery plans for the affected areas, and shared ideas on how to improve response operations. Participants included Hiroyasu Hirano, Mayor, Miyake City, Kouichirou Sakaue, Director, “House of Wind,” M. von Nkosi, Director, Housing Renewal Division, Office of Recovery, City of New Orleans, and Martha Kegel, Executive Director, UNITY of Greater New Orleans.

March 28, 2008 Public Symposium: Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century Replicating the May 24th event for a Pittsburgh crowd at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, this event looked at jazz and "right brain" qualities like empathy, playfulness, improvisation and collaboration. Innovators Network participants Marty Ashby, Daniel H. Pink, Hiroshi Tasaka and Alan Webber, along with musician Anthony Brown discussed a wide range of topics including music, joy and creative problem-solving, necessary for innovation in the 21st century.

February 27, 2008 Public Symposium: Changemakers: Make the Impossible Possible Keying off his new book, Make the Impossible Possible (January 2008, Currency/Doubleday), Bill Strickland shared his inspirational story from growing up in a Pittsburgh ghetto to running a nationally-recognized organization that successfully balances social action, artistic creativity and entrepreneurial acumen. Nana Watanabe, an award-winning photographer and author of Changemakers II: Working as a Social Entrepreneur (in Japanese), which includes Mr. Strickland, presided. For a summary of the event, please read Changemakers: Make the Impossible Possible (PDF).

February 6, 2008 Public Symposium: For Profit, For Good: Integrating Social Value into the Bottom Line The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network and Nikkei co-sponsored this symposium to explore next-generation business models that more effectively blend social value into the bottom line as well as the need for nonprofits and social entrepreneurs to adopt the best practices of business to maximize their impact. Held at Nikkei Hall of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun Head Office in Tokyo, things were kicked off with a keynote address by Martin Coles, Chief Operating Officer, Starbucks Corporation & President, Starbucks Coffee International, and included Mari Hayashi, Darren Huston, Jacqueline Novogratz, Hiroshi Tasaka and Keith Yamashita. For a summary of the event, please read the English version (PDF), by Katherine Hyde, or the Japanese version (PDF), Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

November 29, 2007 Public Lecture: Beyond Web 2.0 In collaboration with The New School, the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network held a public lecture with Hiroshi Tasaka, who explored how the next technology revolution will further empower the individual, blending the monetary and voluntary economies to create a new system of capitalism. He also discussed ways in which technology will help build bridges between the U.S. and Japan, as well as among countries in Asia in the emerging post-knowledge society. Watch the live webcast recorded during the event. (The New School website)

November 6-8, 2007 Retreat and Public Symposium: Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network held a two-day retreat in Kyoto, bringing together architects, urban planners, and leaders in culture and civil society from the United States and Japan to share ideas on urban revitalization, social inclusion, the role of arts and culture in stimulating local economies. The two-day retreat was held in collaboration with the Keikan Machizukuri Center in Kyoto, and was followed by a public symposium where American participants discussed their work in revitalizing communities in the United States. For more details, please read Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion (PDF).

June 2007 The U.S.-Japan Innovators Project Becomes the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network What’s in a name? Although the name has changed slightly, our mission remains the same: Connect people and ideas to create a better world.

May 24, 2007 Public Symposium: Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century This event explored the importance of jazz and "right brain" qualities like empathy, improvisation and playfulness in collaboration and innovation in the 21st century. Participants Marty Ashby, Daniel H. Pink, Hiroshi Tasaka and moderator Alan Webber covered topics ranging from jazz in the boardroom to Japanese manga. For more details about the symposium please read this summary by Katherine Hyde: Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century (PDF).

January 23, 2007 Public Symposium: Affecting Change Through Social Innovation: Design, Scalability, and Financing This international symposium held at Keio University followed the retreat (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps and focusing on new directions in social innovation in Japan and the United States. Last September, Keio University and the Japan Society signed a comprehensive partnership agreement and this symposium was the first jointly held event to commemorate the Japan Society’s 100th anniversary in 2007 and Keio University’s 150th anniversary in 2008. Prominent social entrepreneurs from both Japan and the United States delivered fascinating lectures in each of the three sessions: Design, Scaling Out and Social Finance. More detailed information about the symposium (English). More detailed information about the symposium (Japanese).

January 19-21, 2007 Retreat: (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps Intent on finding innovative ways to solve multiple issues affecting society the retreat participants discovered that retreats just like this one were filling a crucial unmet need for them: Japan Society provided a place for people to reach out of their insulated world, make unique connections and exchange and disseminate innovative ideas that really improve the overall quality of life all over the world. By bringing different innovators together around specific topics The U.S.-Japan Innovators Project challenges people to step outside their own world and reframe problems in order to come up with new, exciting solutions. More detailed information about the retreat (PDF).

June 14-16, 2007 Retreat: (IN)SPIRE: Connecting Communities This was the first in a series of retreats that involved American and Japanese innovators from a range of disciplines. (IN)SPIRE was designed to explore problem-solving and areas of potential U.S.-Japan collaboration. The theme of the retreat, (IN)SPIRE: Connecting Communities, reflects the unprecedented challenges communities in the 21st century face and the need for problem-solvers to collaborate across borders and across categories of expertise. How well a community innovates and connects with other networks is crucial to how successfully it will adapt and evolve. A publication on the retreat, On Innovation and Community: A U.S.-Japan Dialogue, was produced in cooperation with Stone Yamashita Partners. More detailed information about the retreat (PDF).

June 12, 2006 Panel Discussion: Small Spaces + Big Imagination = Life in the Modern City On the evening of June 12, Japan Society hosted an Innovators Series panel discussion entitled Small Spaces + Big Imagination = Life in the Modern City. The panel featured Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder of the Tokyo architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, and Limbon, Professor of Urban Planning at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. [More detailed information about the panel discussion (PDF)[(http://innovators.japansociety.org/images/files/publicprogramreport.pdf).

June 12, 2006 International Exchange: Japanese Innovators Visit NYC On the morning of June 12, 2006, a group of seven Japanese Innovators came to Japan Society in New York City to kick off a two-day program of site visits to three of New York’s most exciting development projects. The site visits varied in terms of scope, visibility, budget, emotional resonance, and degree of completion; however all three were important ongoing projects with valuable lessons on preserving, protecting, and promoting community in a modern city. More detailed information about the two-day program (PDF).

January 23, 2006 Private Luncheon: Yoshito Hori Speaks at Japan Society Japan Society arranged a high-level private luncheon on behalf of Mr. Hori to discuss venture capital opportunities as well as trends in business education in Japan. Mr. Hori's GLOBIS Management School was recently granted a license by the Ministry of Education to become a full-fledged graduate business school awarding MBA degrees.

November 30, 2005 Panel Discussion: Otaku Unmasked: The Life, Death & Rebirth of Japan's Pop Culture Hiroki Azuma and Dai Sato took part in an exciting public program at Japan Society entitled Otaku Unmasked: The Life, Death & Rebirth of Japan's Pop Culture. Their discussion, moderated by journalist and Project participant Doug McGray, centered on questions about the future vitality of Japan's popular culture, especially in terms of the 'otaku' community and its ongoing transformation from a subculture to the mainstream.

October - November 2005 International Exchange: Japan Society Welcomes Japanese Innovators In October and November of 2005, the Innovators Project network widened to include six Japanese innovators from a wide range of backgrounds and interest areas. All six were individuals that the Americans had connected with in the spring.

Yoshito Hori, Chairman & CEO of GLOBIS Corporation, met with enterprising businesspeople in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, to discuss how venture capitalists in Japan and the U.S. might learn from each other. Hiroshi Tasaka, President of SophiaBank, a cutting-edge Japanese think-tank, traversed both coasts discussing innovative social entrepreneurship with his American counterparts.

Cultural philosopher and professor Hiroki Azuma met with writers and philosophers to discuss the ebb and flow of a national pop culture. On the creative side, Dai Sato, anime screenwriter and Executive Director of Frognation, met with writers and production executives in the television and film industry to discuss exporting and marketing content to foreign audiences.

On the civil society front, Yasushi Aoyama, former Vice Governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, sat down with urban planners and housing organizations on issues of social inclusion and providing support for minorities and the homeless. Tomoko Fujisaki, former Director of Health and Development Services (HANDS) focused on ways to strengthen the Japanese NPO/NGO sector in terms of its programs, finances, and public relations.

April - May 2005 International Exchange: U.S.-Japan Innovators Project Sends First Participants to Japan In April and May of 2005, three teams of two Americans researchers, including three former Japan Society Fellows, traveled to Japan to meet a broad range of innovators, including those established in their fields of expertise, and those who are newly emerging.

The business innovation team, Alan Webber, Founding Editor of Fast Company magazine, and Keith Yamashita, founder and principal of Stone Yamashita, focused on identifying the people in Japan who are creating new ideas, technologies and practices likely to spur the next wave of global business innovation.

The cultural innovation team, Douglas McGray, freelance journalist and author of Japan's Gross National Cool (PDF) and Dominic Molon, Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, met with artists, architects, anime directors, musicians, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who are on the cutting-edge of defining contemporary culture in Japan.

On the social innovation team, Rosanne Haggerty, founder & president of Common Ground Community, and Michael Reich, Taro Takemi Professor of International Health at Harvard University, focused engaging individuals from business, the arts, the nonprofit world and elsewhere, who are advancing and implementing new ideas on how to address a wide range of social and humanitarian problems.

2005 Japan Society and Co-organizer The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership Create the U.S.-Japan Innovators Project

Group Members / View all (5) Group Members

  • Andrew Stuerzel
  • Andrea Flamini
  • Kazumi Terada-Ovalle
  • S.A.K.M. Shamsul Hauque, Shuvo

Fostering collaborative dialogue between Japan and the United States by bringing together innovation leaders from both countries

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U.S.-Japan Innovators Network

333 East 47th St.
New York, NY 10017
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(212) 715-1242

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Moderator: Andrew Stuerzel