Congress created the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with Japan expertise. Since then, a total of 86 Mansfield Fellows have completed the program. These Fellows represent 22 U.S. agencies and the U.S. Congress. Alumni Fellows are using the expertise and networks gained during their Fellowships in federal government positions with direct responsibility for a wide range of issues involving Japan.
Reflections from recent Mansfield Fellows illustrate that the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program is fulfilling the goal Congress set out seventeen years ago – to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and practical, firsthand knowledge about Japan and its government:
Fellows’ Reflections on the Great East Japan Earthquake
Leo Bosner, MFP No. 5, in Kamaishi with visiting foreign disaster specialists,
Toyo University hosts, and Kamaishi town officials.
With diverse areas of expertise and first-hand experience in Japan, many Alumni Fellows have a unique perspective on the implications of the Great East Japan Earthquake for Japan and for U.S.-Japan relations. A number of alumni Fellows have played a role in U.S. government efforts to support disaster relief efforts in Japan and to assess lessons the U.S. can learn from Japan’s experience.
Leo Bosner is an emergency management specialist who participated in the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program as a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, from 1999-2001. During his Fellowship year in Japan, he served in full-time placements in Japan’s Defense Agency-Joint Staff Office (now the Ministry of Defense) and in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Disaster Prevention Bureau. Mr. Bosner was in Tokyo during the earthquake and returned in June at the invitation of Toyo University. He was able to view some of the devastated areas and meet with disaster survivors as well as responders. He shares his initial thoughts and questions in this commentary, “Japan’s Response to a Large-Scale Disaster: Can It Be Improved?”
Zenji Nakazawa currently serves as deputy chief, Policy and Licensing Division, at the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. As a Mansfield Fellow (1997-1999) he served in full-time placements in Japan’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (now the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication), and at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation’s Global Business Headquarters and NTT Mobile Communications Network, Inc. (NTT DoCoMo). In this commentary, “Initial Observations of Japan’s Disaster Communications Response during the Great East Japan Earthquake,” Mr. Nakazawa shares his experience as part of an FCC working group tasked with reaching out to representatives of Japan’s government and telecommunications industry following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Tony Waller, a tenant representative in the Office of Organization Resources - Contracting and Facilities Division, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration, was a Mansfield Fellow from 2007-2009. During his year in Japan he was assigned to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, where he examined Japan’s approach to universal design and gained an in-depth understanding of the regulations, techniques, design concepts, and technical and product solutions being used to address the needs of Japan’s ageing society. He shares insights based on his Fellowship experience in this commentary, “Reconstruction for Japan’s Tohoku Region.”
Michael Clark, aFishery Management Specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’sNational Marine Fisheries Service, participated in the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program from 2008-2010. During his Fellowship year in Japan, he served in full-time placements in Japan’s Fisheries Agency, Fisheries Research Agency, Japanese Diet (legislative branch), a seafood trading company, and with a fisheries economist at Tokyo University. Mr. Clark’s expertise and experience in Japan gave him a unique perspective on Japan’s fisheries industry and the impact of the Tohoku-Pacific earthquake on that industry. He shares his thoughts on the challenges of rebuilding the fishing industry in Tohoku, a region critical to Japan’s domestic seafood production, in this commentary, “The Impacts of the 3-11 Tsunami on Regional Fisheries in Japan.”
Michael Clark, MFP No. 14, on fishing vessel based out of Otobe,
Fellows’ Reflections on the Fellowship Experience
MFP No.13 Fellows visited Ishikawa Prefectural government offices prior to their 5-week homestay and language training program in Kanazawa.
Ken Ishimaru: Thepersonal contacts and understanding I gained during the two years as a Mansfield Fellow has prepared me to effectively serve as a solid ‘cross-bridge’ between the U.S. Department of Energy and our Japanese counterpart agencies...
The Mansfield Fellowship has been an extremely rewarding and unforgettable experience. As an international trade litigation attorney at the Department of Justice, I was interested in Japan's trade policies as well as its legal system. To learn about Japan's approach to trade agreements and development, I was placed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I worked with negotiators of Economic Partnership Agreements and representatives to the World Trade Organization, and subsequently worked with a team at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry by researching various Asian countries' legislative frameworks for private investment in public infrastructure projects...My placement at the Tokyo High Court enabled me to not only to observe firsthand proceedings in civil litigation and settlement conferences, but also to discuss with the judges their views on the legal system.
Michael Panzera (MFP No.13) (right) observed legal proceeding during his two-week placement at the Tokyo High Court.
Jay Biggs: My experience as a Mansfield Fellow has been an amazing opportunity for me. As a trade analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., my knowledge of what is going on in Japan was limited to information I gleaned from a limited number of sources. Being in Japan has allowed me to develop a fuller picture of the broad economic and political trends in Japan. Having the opportunity to be placed in ministries related to my job has given me an amazing opportunity to understand the complexities of interagency relationships.
This past year has given me the opportunity to view some of Japan's most innovative approaches to design and construction. Japan continues to explore cutting edge energy efficient design techniques and methods that will reduce their CO2 emissions, likewise they are designing to meet the needs of their elderly and disabled populations by creating buildings and public spaces that are barrier-free and improve accessibility for all. For a designer, this cross cultural experience has altered many of my perceptions of American design.
Cory Hannah (MFP No. 13) discussed joint operations with a Japan-U.S. Security Cooperation Division colleague.