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.

Boston Women’s March

On January 21st, 2017, over 200,000 people participated in the Boston Women’s March as a reaction to the new presidency in the U.S. With other women’s marches across the country and the world, the Boston marchers stood up united to show support for women’s rights.

Photo by BOSTON GLOBE

Atsuko Hosted a Luncheon Featuring the Trainees of the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program

Atsuko Fish, the JWLI Founder and a U.S.-Japan Council board member, hosted a luncheon featuring the trainees of the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in Boston on Tuesday, December 6th. It was an inspiring, informative and interactive discussion and held as a part of “Regional Women in Leadership Networking.” 19 people gathered and explored the theme of “Leadership through the Lenses of Gender and Disability.” The three 2016 TOMODACHI trainees were Yui Awai, Toshiko Kudo and Tomomi Takata. The trainees and the attendees discussed differences and similarities surrounding people living with disabilities in Japan and the U.S. The trainees also shared their experiences as young leaders with disabilities, and how they were planning to apply their learning to make positive impact in Japan. The group had a lively discussion and identified actions to take and what Japan could learn from the U.S. Mari Fujii from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston gave a presentation on Japan’s womenomics policy and how Japan’s business sector has been promoting women’s participation. The luncheon concluded with a strong belief that these trainees would make a difference for others with disabilities in Japan.

JWLI 10th Reunion in Tokyo

JWLI just had its 10th reunion in Tokyo. It was great to see our Fellows (at least one from each cohort from Year 1 to Year 10!) at a reunion on October 19 at a café overlooking a beautiful view of Tokyo at the Palace Hotel Tokyo.

10 years ago, it was just an idea popped in Atsuko Fish’s mind.Now, she made it a hugely impactful program with over 40 graduates.Congratulations to Atsuko Fish for this incredible success. YOU made it happen. YOU did this for these women, other women leaders around them, and ultimately for Japan! JWLI would not be here without your dedication and commitment.

AND, congratulations to Patricia Deyton! You have been there from Day 1 as a partner, an academic institute of the program, and a mentor. If you didn’t believe in Atsuko and her idea, JWLI would not be here today. You made differences in so many lives that went on to change others in Japan. YOU are changing these women and ultimately Japan through them. Thank you Patricia. Simmons College The Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons School of Management Simmons School of Management.

Yoko Okura Wrote an Article of JWLI on Nikkei Women Online

It was our pleasure to meet Yoko Okura. She is an incredible woman who is a journalist and used to be at a TV station in Japan. She currently studies at Harvard Kennedy School and has her own online column on Nikkei Women Online where she shares her perspective on women’s empowerment and leadership, and gender issues in the U.S. Recently, she published an article after meeting our 2016 Fellows and also sitting in for Simmons College’s Strategic Leadership for Women. Thank you Yoko for the great article!

Check out Yoko’s article “似た価値観の人に相談しても突破口は見つからない” on Nikkei Women Online.