2017 JWLI Program Has Started!

On October 10th, 2017, Atsuko Fish hosted a welcome reception for her program, Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI). Atsuko founded JWLI in 2006 and this year the program celebrated its 11th anniversary.

As the primary mission of the program, JWLI empowers Japanese women to become leaders and make positive social change and innovation in Japan. The reception took place at Fish Family Foundation located in Boston, and many friends came together to welcome five fellows for this year’s JWLI program.

As a finale of the four-week long program, the JWLI fellows will be giving short presentations on their “Action Plans” at Cambridge Innovation Center on Thursday, November 2nd from 5:15pm to 6:15pm. This year’s fellows have backgrounds in a variety of fields, ranging from end-of-life care, temple management to refugee and immigrant empowerment. Please come join us for this excellent opportunity to learn how these women leaders are trying to change Japan!

Please visit the following page for more information:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-social-entrepreneurship-jwli-tickets-38640322244

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.

2012 Fellow featured on the Medill Reports Chicago Article

Noelle Takahashi, our 2012 Fellow, was recently featured on the Medill Reports Chicago article, “Will Japan’s ‘Womenomics’ work?” The article is about gender inequality in Japan.

Noelle emphasizes gender inequality still exists in Japan, and she sees it herself from her own experience. She also explains many women in Japan are living under pressure.

Noelle says in the article, “Japanese women are expected to be a good wife and good mothers, and if you get married, you are expected to cook well suddenly, and you are expected to have children.”

As one of a few female politicians in Japan, she advocates for creating a better society where women leadership is more valued.

Click here to find more detail about the article!

2016 Fellow Program Report Published!

Our 2016 final report has been just published! The report was written and designed by our 2016 Fellows – Rie Sawanobori of Dow Chemical Japan, Ibuki Ozawa of PIECE, Mami Kishigami of Osaka City Women’s Foundation and Mio Kojima of Aids Orphan Support PLAS. The report details their four-week program in Boston, meeting and learning from many different types of leaders, participating in the women’s leadership course at Simmons College, and going through a journey of developing Action Plans. To the four of them, congratulations again for successfully completing the program!

Click here to view the Report!

Grassroots Academy Tohoku Hosts a Women Leadership Training Program in Seattle

Megumi Ishimoto, 2014 Fellow, leads the Grassroots Academy Tohoku. Megumi and the Academy recently hosted a women leadership training program in Seattle from February 5th to 11th, 2017. 10 young female leaders from Tohoku participated in a capacity-development workshop at iLEAP, a Seattle-based leadership institute. During their stay, participants met local residents and had opportunities to present their work in Tohoku and the state of recovery. This training increased the capacity of young female leaders active in Tohoku through equipping them with new skills and building self-confidence and awareness.




Photos by Grassroots Academy Tohoku

JWLI on The Japan Times and Nikkei

JWLI Founder, Atsuko Fish, and three of our Fellows, Megumi Ishimoto, Yuko Nakaoka, and Kiyono Yagami, were interviewed by two major Japanese newspapers, Kyodo and Nikkei. The keynote speaker of our Tokyo Summit, Mari Kuraishi, was also interviewed as well and spoke about what was preventing Japanese women from working and taking leadership roles. Atsuko has addressed the value of women’s leadership in Japan. She also introduced JWLI as a practical training program for women with clear dream vision of social change in Japanese society. Our Fellows also shared their learning from JWLI and accomplishments in different industries.

Click here to find more detail about the article!

Kozue Spoke to Showa Boston Students

On January 26th, JWLI Program Manager, Kozue Sawame, gave a presentation to 18 undergraduate students from the Showa Boston Institute, the Boston satellite campus of Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, Japan. The talk was held as part of the Women and Leadership course offered jointly with Emanuel College. In hope that some of these 18 students would choose to be engaged in the social sector as a career in the future, Kozue mainly addressed introduced how JWLI as a unique career development opportunity. to empower Japanese women to become leaders and the operation process of the program. The later discussion session about the importance of new generation’s women leadership in Japan was lively. Kozue and the students had a wonderful time discussing women’s empowerment and leadership in Japan.