2019 Japan-Texas Leadership Symposium in San Antonio, TX

The 2019 Japan-Texas Leadership Symposium scheduled for Wednesday, March 27th in San Antonio, Texas was a program of Sister Cities International in partnership with the Koyamada International Foundation (KIF), hosted by the City of San Antonio and supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Download event program

This first-of-its-kind sister cities symposium was being presented to enhance the longstanding bonds of friendship and collaboration between Japan and the United States at the sub-national level, especially as it pertains to business, cultural, and community exchanges.

It was also the inaugural event in a two year-long series of leadership fora planned between Japanese and U.S. municipal leaders and community citizen diplomats during 2019 and 2020. It culminated in the first ever All Japan-U.S. Sister Cities Summit in October, 2020 following the Tokyo Olympics.

Topics of discussion included the importance of Japan-U.S. bilateral relations, opportunities in emerging industries, Japanese culture and language and how to educate U.S. audiences and much more. Furthermore, the symposium also shed light on the innovative ways states, counties, municipalities, businesses and communities can work together to build strong, lasting relationships. A reception followed the symposium with a cultural program planned by Musical Bridges Around the World.

Flag Ceremony

National Anthem

Opening Ceremony


Opening Remarks

  • Mr. Michael Hyatt - Senior Vice President of Investments, UBS Financial Services; Chairman Emeritus of Sister Cities International & Chair of Texas State Host Committee
  • Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran - San Antonio City Councilwoman & Chair of local host committee
  • Mr. Shin Koyamada - Chairman, Koyamada International Foundation; Board member, Sister Cities International; CEO, Shinca Group
  • Mr. Roger-Mark De Souza - President and CEO, Sister Cities International
  • Mayor Ron Nirenberg - Mayor of San Antonio; Chairman, Sister Cities International
  • Judge Peter Sakai - Judge-225th District Court Bexar County and Board member, US-Japan Council
  • Judge Nelson Wolff - Bexar County Judge
  • Secretary David Whitley - Secretary of State of Texas representing Governor Greg Abbott
  • Congressman Joaquin Castro - U.S. Congressman; Co-Chair of U.S. Japan Caucus
  • Mr. Rick A. Ruth - Senior Advisor of Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Ambassador Kazutoshi Aikawa - Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in the United States of America
  • Nia Lyte - KIF President (A Letter from Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan)

Shin Koyamada

Ron Nirenberg

David Whitley

Nelson Wolff

Mike Hyatt

Rebecca Viagran

Peter Sakai

Kazutoshi Aikawa

Panel Speakers

  • Why Do Japanese Companies Choose Texas?
    This session explores factors that drive Japanese companies to choose Texas, including how cultural similarities between Japan and Texas fuel business success. Japan is the No.1 international job creator in the United States, with Texas being a major beneficiary.

    • Mr. Leo Gomez, President and CEO, Brooks (Moderator)
    • Mr. Takaoki Niwa, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.
    • Ms. Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, President and CEO, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation
    • Mr. Hozumi Yoda, President, Nissei Plastic Industry
    • Mr. Nobuaki Yokoo, President, Japan America Society of San Antonio

Jenna Saucedo-Herrera

Hozumi Yoda

Leo Gomez

Takaoki Niwa

  • Education and the Value of Japanese Culture and Language to U.S. Audiences
    This session highlights the value of teaching Japanese culture, language and history to U.S. audiences. It emphasizes outreach and educational efforts that are building a greater understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture and language.

    • Mr. Takehiro Shimada, Minister for Communications & Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Japan (Moderator)
    • Dr. Makiko Fukuda, Japanese Senior Lecturer, University of Texas in San Antonio
    • Mr. Hideki Hara, Director, The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
    • Mr. Edson Kodama, Executive Vice President SARAYA International Inc.
    • Dr. Naoko Ozaki, Lecturer in Japanese - Rice University

Takehiro Shimada

Edson Kodama

Hideki Hara

Makiko Fukuda & Naoko Ozaki

  • Economic: Trade and Investment: Future Directions
    This session explores the importance of trade and investment between the two countries and explores the current trade negotiations in process between the United States and Japan.

    • Mr. Joshua Walker, Global Head of Strategic Initiatives and Japan, Eurasia Group (Moderator)
    • Mrs. Paula Gold-Williams, President and CEO of CPS Energy
    • Dr. Fumiaki Kubo, Vice Chairman , U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON); Professor at University of Tokyo
    • Mr. Jim Perschbach, President & CEO, Port San Antonio
    • Mr. Yasuhiro Uozumi, Executive Director, Keidanren USA
    • Mr. Hiroyuki Watanabe, Director, Texas Japan Office in Tokyo

Joshua Walker

Paula Gold-Williams

Fumiaki Kubo

  • The Importance of NEXGEN in the Japan US Bilateral Relationship
    This session explores the importance of the next generation and youth in the bilateral relationships within the Japan – US context.

    • Mr. Shin Koyamada, Chairman, Koyamada International Foundation; Board member, Sister Cities International; CEO, Shinca Group (Moderator)
    • Mr. Masafumi Ishida, Vice President, Junior Chamber International in Japan (JCI)
    • Mr. Arrey Obenson, Secretary General, Junior Chamber International (JCI)
    • Dr. Hiroki Takeuchi, Director, Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia and Associate Professor Associate of Political Science, Southern Methodist University
    • Ambassador Haruhisa Takeuchi, Advisor to Daiwa House and Former Ambassador of Japan to Singapore; Professor at the University of Tokyo
    • Mr. Michael Turner, Culture & Sports Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

Arrey Obenson

Hiroki Takeuchi, Mike Turner

Shin Koyamada

Masafumi Ishida, Haruhisa Takeuchi

  • Luncheon - Keynote Speech on Citizen Diplomacy
    The luncheon keynote highlights the importance of citizen diplomacy in bilateral relations.

    • Ms. Ruth Cotter, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Human Resources and Investor Relations, AMD (Introduction)
    • Mrs. Pence, Second Lady of United States

Karen Pence, Second Lady of the U.S.A.

Karen Pence, U.S. Second Lady

Ron Nirenberg

Ruth Cotter

  • Luncheon - Panel Discussion: Women’s Leadership through Citizen Exchanges on Bilateral Relations
    This session will examine the value of citizen exchanges to create and sustain opportunities for women’s leadership with examples from the United States and Japan.

    • Ms. Nia Lyte, President, Koyamada International Foundation; Country Representative for Colombia & Women Empowerment at Sister Cities International (Moderator)
    • Ms. Ruth Cotter, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Human Resources and Investor Relations, AMD
    • Ms. Misako Ito, Secretary-General, U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON)
    • Ms. Tae Namba, Director of GPSP Support Bureau; Board Member, Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA)

Nia Lyte

Ruth Cotter

Misako Ito

Aya Namba

  • Economic: Opportunities for Small and Medium Businesses
    This session examines opportunities to attract and sustain smaller companies and business operations and the importance of looking to these outside markets to facilitate growth in this sector with reference to the Japan – US context.

    • Mr. Rene Dominguez, Director of Economic Development, City of San Antonio (Moderator)
    • Ms. Donna Cole, President and CEO, Cole Chemical; Board member, US-Japan Council
    • Mr. Toshinaga Hirai, Chief Executive Director, JETRO Houston
    • Mr. Max Navarro, Chairman, Board of Directors Vutex Inc. and Operational Technologies
    • Mr. Al Salgado, Interim Director, Institute of Economic Development, University of Texas at San Antonio

Donna Cole

  • Cultural/Diplomacy: Serving Those Who Serve
    This session honors the role of those who have served including an acknowledgment of U.S.-Japan military relationships and the role of people to people exchanges in such areas of disaster mitigation and recovery.

    • Mr. Tim Quigley, Chair Emeritus, Sister Cities International; President, Sister Cities International Foundation (Moderator)
    • Mr. Koichiro Bansho, Advisor, National Security Secretariat of Japan; Retired Lt. General, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
    • Mr. William R. Farrell, PhD. Honorary Consul of Japan for Rhode Island and Past Chair of National Japan American Society; Professor of Naval College
    • Mr. Edward Rice, Retired former commander of Air Education and Training Command in San Antonio

Tim Quigely

Koichiro Bansho

Edward Rice

  • Economic: Workforce and Manufacturing, Opportunities in the Automotive Sector
    This session presents automation and robotics in the automotive sector and how such innovations are shaping an entire industry especially its workforce.

    • Mr. Robert McKinley, Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development, Alamo Colleges (Moderator)
    • Mr. Walt Downing, Executive Vice President, Southwest Research Institute
    • Mr. David Marquez, Executive Director of Economic Development & Community Planning, Bexar County
    • Ms. Sandy Nott, Vice President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas

Robert McKinley

Walt Downing

Sandy Nott

David Marquez

  • Cultural/Diplomacy: The Role of Culture in Forging Bilateral Relations
    This panel explores ways in which cultural experiences and exchanges in both countries have forged bilateral relations. It includes the role that volunteers play in developing cultural exchange opportunities.

    • Mr. John M. Stich, Honorary Consul-General of Japan in Dallas (Moderator)
    • Dr. Peter Kelley PhD., Chairman of National Association of Japan-America Societies
    • Mr. Matthew Gillam, Senior Researcher, Japan Local Government Center, New York
    • Dr. Fumiaki Kubo, Vice Chairman , U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON); Professor of American Government & History, University of Tokyo
    • Mr. Chris Tashima, Academy Award Winner for directing the short film Visas and Virtues

John M. Stich

Peter Kelley & Chris Tashima

Matthew Gillam

Fumiaki Kubo

  • Sister City Cultural Showcase
    Phoenix Fire, a new intercultural performance project for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Writer-composer and member of the music faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio introduces Phoenix Fire, which will première in March 2020 and then be taken to sister city Kumamoto and Tokyo. The presentation concludes with a performance of an excerpt by UIW students.

    • Dr. Kevin Salfen, Writer and Composer of Phoenix Fire, Associate Professor of Music, University of the Incarnate Word
    • Phoenix Fire excerpt features participation of 3-4 students from the University of Incarnate Word

Kevin Salfen

Students from University of Incarnet Word

Students from University of Incarnet Word

Students from University of Incarnate Word

  • Closing Remarks

    • Mr. Shin Koyamada, Chairman, Koyamada International Foundation; Board member, Sister Cities International; CEO, Shinca Group (Introduction)
    • Consul General Hideo Fukushima, Consul General of Japan in Houston
    • Mr. Roger-Mark De Souza, President and CEO, Sister Cities International
    • Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio; Chairman, Sister Cities International

Hideo Fukushima

Shin Koyamada

Ron Nirenberg

Tim Quigely

  • Networking Reception
    Enjoy an art exhibit presented by local artist and native of Japan, Ms. Hiromi Stringer. This playful body of work entitled Cat Scratch Cat is a suite of seven diptych intaglio prints. Utilizing printmaking techniques, local artist and native Japanese Hiromi Stringer examines and makes fun of the relationship between words, meanings and images both in Japanese and English – all this simply by moving just one word around.
  • Musical Concert by Kaoru Watanabe Trio
    During the reception, there will be a short concert featuring Kaoru Watanabe who will be joined by percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and Celtic harpist Maeve Gilchrist both acclaimed for their innovative approach to their instruments. This concert is organized by Musical Bridges Around the World in San Antonio (MBAW) which is a non-profit performing arts organization based in San Antonio with the mission to unite, educate and inspire through culturally diverse performing and visual arts programming. MBAW has been bringing Japanese music and culture to schools in San Antonio for many years
    • Mr. Suhail Arastu, Director of Advancement, Musical Bridges Around the World. (Introduction)
    • Mr. Kaoru Watanabe (bamboo flute and taiko drumming)
    • Mr. Satoshi Takeishi (percussion)
    • Ms. Maeve Gilchrist (Celtic Harp)

Suhail Arastu

Live Music

Kaoru Watanabe


Maeve Gilchrist

KIF and KIF Japan Team

Satoshi Takeishi

Nia and Shin w/ Karen Pence