The Japanese Women’s Society Foundation welcomed 2017 — “the Year of the Rooster” — with its annual shinnenkai (New Year’s party) at Natsunoya Tea House on Jan. 29. A bake sale, “Lucky Me” bidding and fukubukuro (surprise grab bag) sales preceded lunch and a short business meeting.

Board member Deborah Huebler emceed the event, introducing special guests, Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and his wife, Yoko.

During the business meeting, which was conducted by president-elect Cathy Iwai, new member Kaoru Nakamura was introduced. Iwai also introduced JWSF’s scholarship grant awardee, Erika Noel. A check for $10,000 was presented to Kuakini Foundation president Gary Kajiwara. It represented monies raised through JWSF fundraising efforts and are to be used for the residents and upkeep of Kuakini Home.

Janelle Sasaki, executive director of Diversity & Inclusion Services for Ernst & Young Advisory Co., Ltd., Japan, was the keynote speaker. Sasaki, who was born and raised in California, is based in Tökyö, where she has worked since 2011. She spoke about innovative diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace for Japan and the Asia Pacific region.

Sasaki said living and actually working in Japan is very different from merely visiting the country. Japanese Americans, foreigners and women who work in Japan are often challenged with trying to understand and adapt to “old-school” management styles. Sasaki said consensus building does not end at the office, but rather extends to social drinking after work and at lunches. Although the process of doing things takes longer in Japan, Sasaki said, “Once the planning is over, the execution is flawless.”


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