A Unique U.S.-Japan Exchange Experience for Young Leaders: The TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program

Mar 19, 2019
The 2018 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program Cohort

By Guest Author Rachel E. Brooks

The TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program seeks to build a community of creative thinkers and doers with globally-oriented mindsets and an investment in the future of U.S.-Japan relations. For 2018, I was lucky enough to serve as one of ten U.S. delegates to collaborate with ten Japanese delegates during a week-long program in Miyagi Prefecture and Tokyo, Japan. Together, we examined the theme, “Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership,” by exploring new technology and industrial development in the context of U.S.-Japan relations. The program is looking for ten U.S. and ten Japanese young professionals (up to the age of forty) with demonstrated leadership potential, professional accomplishments in their chosen career field, and a connection to U.S.-Japan activities.

Applications to participate in the next cohort are open until April 4, 2019 for U.S. applicants and April 18, 2019 for Japanese applicants.

The Japanese phrase, “ichi-go ichi-e,” meaning “one opportunity, one encounter” captures the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity experiences like this program are. The TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program creates a robust professional network among rising business and government leaders in Japan and the U.S., choosing young professionals looking to further U.S.-Japan relations and raise awareness about key policies and issues for the two countries. Selected through a competitive process, the delegations represent professional, geographic, and gender diversity. In my year, U.S. delegates represented a mix of public and private sectors and came from spaces such as Toyota Research Institute, American Jewish Committee, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Harvard Business School, and Penske Truck Leasing and places such as Denver, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and New York. This program brings together the perfect intersection of businesses, government and society to bolster U.S.-Japan relations. If you plan to apply, be sure to demonstrate how you will contribute to the diversity and dynamics of the cohort. Highlight your achievements and showcase an authentic commitment to U.S.-Japan relations, cultural exchange, and the program’s themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Rachel, front row, center, with other 2018 fellows

For the 2018 program in Miyagi Prefecture and Tokyo, we fit a month’s worth of content into one short week. Our delegation witnessed Tohuku’s resilience from Onagawa’s entrepreneurial spirit to Inshinomaki’s innovation. We felt the spirit of “Ganbaru Ishinomaki” through an increase in volunteerism from all over Japan to help those affected by a disaster. We saw the Ishinomaki Future Support Association use technology to tell their story and educate others, and we met with female leaders in Japan and heard about their triumphs and challenges. We saw innovation in the chairman of Haneda Airport’s vision to embrace robotics, how J-Seed Ventures used entrepreneurship to address the president and CEO’s frustrations in society, and Uniqlo’s hope to expand eCommerce and unite the world with fashion. We even fit in a tour of Urakasumi sake brewery to examine their business model and sample their offerings.

I am grateful to Mitsui & Co., TOMODACHI Initiative, and U.S.-Japan Council for this opportunity last summer and eager to promote this meaningful opportunity to other young professionals invested in the future of U.S.-Japan relations. If the TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program sounds like something that aligns with your interests, values, and goals, I encourage you to apply for this year’s cohort. The U.S. delegation will visit Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo in July, and the Japanese delegation will visit Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. in September. Find out more and confirm eligibility here. U.S. applicants should apply by April 4, and Japanese applicants should apply by April 18 through this link. Please feel free to reach out with any questions for this application cycle or future cycles. Ichi-go ichi-e.

Rachel, front row, second from right, with her fellowship cohort

Rachel E. Brooks manages social impact and experiential learning programs for the Center for Business, Government & Society at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Prior to Tuck, she spent two years on Jeju Island, South Korea as a Fulbright grantee and then served as chief coordinator of Fulbright Korea’s onboarding program. A native of Virginia, Rachel graduated from the College of William & Mary with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and honors in interdisciplinary studies.

Interested in applying? Bookmark the TOMODACHI- Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program to your ProFellow account.

© Victoria Johnson 2019, all rights reserved.