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U.S.-Japan Council Announces Paul K. Yonamine as Chair of its Board of Directors

May 14, 2020

U.S.-Japan Council Announces Paul K. Yonamine as Chair of its Board of Directors

HONOLULU, HI – The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Paul K. Yonamine as its new Chair. Yonamine previously held roles with USJC as Chair of the Board of Councilors. USJC’s mission is to develop and connect diverse leaders to strengthen the U.S.- Japan relationship, with almost 700 members in the U.S. and Japan, including 130 members in Hawaii representing a cross-section of executive and emerging young leaders.

Given USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye’s passing on April 7, the Board initiated its strategic succession plan which had been underway due to her announcement earlier in the year to retire. Additional leadership changes include Ernest Higa, who is President, Chairman and CEO at HIGA Industries Co., Ltd., succeeding Yonamine as Chair of the Board of Councilors, and Suzanne Basalla, Chief of Staff at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and former USJC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, as the new President and CEO of USJC, effective May 18, 2020.

“The Board is confident that these outstanding leaders will enable the Council to meet the challenges of the future, including sustaining unique programs to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations, providing connections for our members and stakeholders in a greatly changed world, and continuing to develop a new generation of leaders,” said outgoing USJC Board Chair Phyllis Campbell.

The appointment of Yonamine as incoming Chair of USJC’s Board of Directors is significant, given his leadership role as Chairman and CEO of Central Pacific Financial Corp., and Executive Chairman of Central Pacific Bank. Central Pacific Bank was founded in post-WWII Hawaii by decorated Japanese American war heroes including President Irene Hirano Inouye’s husband and co-founder of USJC, the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Since its inception in 2008, USJC has had far reaching and deep impact with several signature programs. The Silicon Valley Japan Platform connects the technological dynamism of Silicon Valley with the current and future needs of economic revitalization in Japan. The TOMODACHI Initiative, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo with support from the Government of Japan, invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges. To learn more about the U.S.-Japan Council, visit Follow @USJChawaiiregion on Instagram to connect with Hawaii-based members and local activities.