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Intern Spotlight: Sadiq

Today is Sadiq’s last day as an intern at the Fish Family Foundation. We really appreciated Sadiq’s help and warm smiles this summer. Our intern joined as through the “Explore India” program established by the Boys and Girls Club (in partnership with Fish Family Foundation). We wish Sadiq all the best in life and a successful fall semester at Boston College.


JWLI Fellow Spotlight: Rie Sawanobori

Our JWLI Fellow, Rie joined the 2nd Annual LADY Summer Program on August 9th to 11th, 2017 as a guest speaker.The Leadership and Action for Determined Youth (LADY) initiative is a unique international three day leadership and development conference for young women in Tokyo seeking to be the leaders in shaping the Japan of tomorrow.Throughout the three days, 20 female high school students from across the country joined workshops and lectures by 10 female college students and 7 female guest speakers where participants delve into deep discussions about their futures.

Rie Sawanobori is the Director of Public Relations at Dow Chemical Company Ltd. After joining the company in 2001, Rie oversaw the sales of raw chemical materials, such as Thermosetting resin used in the production of paint, various chemical materials used in the production of cars, and Polystyrene resin used in home appliances. Rie has served as the Director of Public Relations since 2011. In addition to internal and external communication and branding, Rie oversees other public relations activities such as community service. Outside of corporate work, Rie has participated for over 10 years in fundraising efforts to support higher education for children in the Philippines. Rie is a graduate of Waseda University with a degree in politics and economics.


JWLI-II is Featured on The Japan Times and K.K. Kyodo News

JWLI-II is on the The Japan Times and K.K. Kyodo News! Our friend at Kyodo wrote an amazing article yet again about JWLI-II and Atsuko Fish.
Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative executive four-week training program in Boston, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016, is this year a revamped version of itself with the emphasis on participants delivering through their actions. The leadership course is scheduled to take place from Oct. 10 to Nov. 3. Yasuhiro Yamakawa, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, will help the women prepare for their trip abroad. Please check out the article:

    Philanthropist Atsuko Fish (left), founder of the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative, and program manager Kozue Sawame pose for a photo at the International House of Japan in Tokyo on June 22. | KYODO

“Champion of Change” Japan Award

Atsuko Fish is privileged to announce the launch of the “Champion of Change” Japan Award. In 2013, Atsuko received the Champion of Change award from The White House in recognition of her commitment towards advancing women’s leadership in the U.S. and Japan. The award has inspired Atsuko to accolade Japanese women who are also addressing social issues in their respective communities unpaid or with little-pay. A number of Japanese women work persistently to address the most pressing needs in their communities, but their works have not been acknowledged or covered by the national news. The Champion of Change Japan Award is Atsuko’s vision to give hope to these unsung heroes who are working at the grassroots level. An Award recipient will be selected annually (out of eight finalists) and rewarded a cash prize of $10,000. The Award will be sponsored by Tiffany & Co and Dow Chemical Japan. The Public Resources Foundation, a leading social sector organization in Japan, has been chosen as an implementation partner. 

For additional info and to nominate candidates, please click here

For any questions, please contact: Harada or Watanabe, Public Resources Foundation

[Video] Atsuko’s Keynote speech at CANPAN/ Nippon Foundation

In the evening of June 19th, JWLI held a talk in partnership with the CANPAN/ Nippon Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. Our Trustee, Atsuko was the keynote speaker for the event. Atsuko gave a powerful speech that emphasized the importance of initiating “social change” through “taking action”. Through her work with JWLI, Atsuko recognizes that social issues in Japan becoming increasingly complicated and intertwined.

Atsuko encourages the audience to not only read about the social issues occurring in Japan (Children in poverty, single mothers, domestic violence etc.) but to take action. She hopes that individuals can initiate change through pro bono work, volunteering or participating with initiatives like the JWLI.

The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion led by three JWLI Fellows. After the panel, the audience was given the opportunity to discuss amongst themselves about “what social issues are you concerned about” and “what are the actions you are taking/planning to take after this event”.

Overall, the CANPAN event was incredibly successful — we had over a hundred attendees .

A brief section of Atsuko’s speech (In Tokyo, Japan) – “Women leading social change is Japan are the future for Japan. You can make a difference. Together, we can make a big positive difference!”


Grantees for the 2016 JWLIA Fund

On September 1, 2016, JWLIA has selected “Edible School Yard Japan” and “Blue Sky Reading” as grantees for the 2016 JWLIA Fund.

The Edible School Yard Japan (ESYJ) connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum. The goal of ESYJ’s edible education curriculum is to empower students with the knowledge and values to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment. Specifically, the grant was used to create a learning environment that will help Japanese children understand the “sustainable way of life” and help them create emotional ties with the natural world.

Blue Sky Reading is an org started and operated by Rika Tanioka. In 2016, Rika launched the “Blue Sky Reading” project, a website in which people who are handicapped, elderly, and children can enjoy listening to audiobooks. Specifically, the grant was used to help individuals enjoy the benefits of audiobooks online.

Kozue’s Presentation to Japanese Students from the Showa Boston Institute

On May 30th and May 31st, JWLI Program Manager, Kozue Sawame, gave presentations on “The Importance of Marketing to the Success of an NPO” to a total of 39 undergraduate Japanese students from the Showa Boston Institute. Kozue’s presentations helped the students assimilate the application of “marketing concepts” to real life situations and furthered their understanding of JWLI’s initiative. Kozue addressed how JWLI staffs used a variety of marketing methods to help the organization increase its online presence and reach emerging women leaders in Japan’s social sector. Moreover, Kozue warmly invited the students to share their thoughts on marketing techniques that could be used to help the JWLI program grow. A lively discussion sparked when Showa students talked amongst their peers about alternative and innovative marketing methods that could help JWLI expand its outreach. Some students gave many constructive feedback on JWLI’s current marketing and even shared their own marketing ideas with Kozue.


Atsuko Hosted a Luncheon with a Talk by Gen. Yoshikazu Watanabe

On Wednesday, May 17, Atsuko Fish, U.S.-Japan Council Board Member and Chair of its New England chapter, hosted a luncheon with a talk by Yoshikazu Watanabe on the topic of “Japan and Two Big Countries: China and the U.S.” Watanabe is the retired Lieutenant General of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) and currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Asia Center. The talk was based on his book 「米中戦争 そのとき日本は」recently published in Japan. Watanabe explored Japan’s national security and the current sensitive relationships with other East Asian countries. With the Olympics taking place in 2020, Watanabe shared his perspectives on how Japan could benefit greatly from preparing for different types of threats. The event attracted over 20 people including Shinju Fijihira, Executive Director of the Harvard University Weatherhead Center, Yumi Kuwana, Founder of the Global Citizens Initiative, and Paul Niwa, Chair of the Emerson College Journalism department.


6th Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony Held in Boston

Atsuko Fish, JWLI founder, attended this year’s cherry tree planting ceremony at the McCormack Middle School in the Dorchester area of Boston on April 28th. It was Fish Family Foundation’s 6th year to give five cherry trees to a school within the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Japanese is taught at these six schools. The students at the McCormack Middle School welcomed Atsuko and other Foundation staff by singing songs in Japanese. Special thanks are due to the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston and ZEN Associates, Inc for their support, as well as Tim Nagaoka, the BPS teacher for continuing to teach Japanese in Boston and to strengthen the friendship between Boston and Japan!


Atsuko Fish Hosts a Commemoration Luncheon for Tohoku

Atsuko Fish, the JWLI Founder and a U.S.-Japan Council board member, hosted a luncheon featuring two speakers, Megumi Ishimoto and Hideki Matsunaga in Boston on Friday, March 10th. Six years have passed since the Tohoku disaster in 2011. This event was to commemorate the tragedy and learn the current situation in Tohoku from the speakers.

Megumi is our 2014 Fellow and a founder of Women’s Eye. She gave a powerful presentation about her work with Women’s Eye. Women’s Eye has approximately 600 workshops, and has served 6,000 women since its inception in 2011. She also shared her future plan to continue to host the International Grassroots Women’s Academy Leadership Development Training in Tohoku and abroad.

The other speaker, Hideki Matsunaga, is a former Tohoku team leader of Japan Platform. He has been involved in a number of Tohoku-based projects and organizations including BEYOND Tomorrow and, currently sits on the board of Tono Magokoro Net. He spoke about the big picture of what has happened so far and what is happening now.

After the presentations, over 25 attendees discussed the importance of events like this luncheon as interests in Tohoku in the Boston area are fading away.