Until the 1980’s, JASSW was run entirely by volunteers.  Today our staff consists of four full-time professionals and our Board of Directors is headed by an elected Chair and composed of local and state leaders in business, government, education and the arts.

Office Staff

David Yamaguchi
Executive Director

David Yamaguchi comes to the Japan-America Society from 3.5 years on the staff of The North American Post, the Seattle Japanese community newspaper. A Seattle Sansei (third-generation Japanese American) and UW forestry alumnus, David has spent 29 months in Japan to date. Most of that time was spent working for the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture (Norinsho), Sapporo, on a US-Japan exchange program. The remaining time was spent traveling 600 miles of the Tohoku-to-Wakayama Pacific coast chasing written Japanese records of the tsunami that struck that coastline in January 1700. Those mostly samurai records helped quantify the size of the trans-Pacific tsunami produced by a coastal earthquake that happened then in the Pacific Northwest. The earthquake was previously known from native legends and old trees it killed. The samurai records dated the earthquake precisely — January 26, 9 p.m. Seattle time — and helped prove that it was of magnitude 9. It was similar to the Tohoku earthquake that would later occur in 2011. That US-Japan collaboration forms the basis of present-day earthquake and tsunami hazards preparation from British Columbia to northern California (“The Orphan Tsunami of 1700,” UW Press, 2005; full-text online).

Michiko Yoshino
Communications Manager

Born in Japan and raised in the States, Michiko has had a long relationship with Japan. After spending most of her youth in Seattle, she studied at Middlebury College in Vermont where she spent a year studying abroad at International Christian University in Tokyo and received her Japanese/Sociology undergraduate degree. After graduating, she spent the next four years in Yamagata, Japan as a prefectural Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for the JET Program. She returned back to Seattle in September 2021 after gaining an appreciation for ryokans, snow, sake, and good food. Although Michiko has lived in various parts of the US and Japan, she considers Seattle her home and is excited to help forge and strengthen international relations between Washington State and Japan.

Tobi McCann
Program Coordinator

Originally from Phoenix, Tobi McCann moved to Seattle in 2020 to live in a more international hub - determined to explore opportunities with a strong connection to Japan. They have always been passionate about Japanese language and culture, studying Japanese in their free time as a student. During college, they worked part-time at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix as event and office staff, helping to coordinate public events that teach and celebrate Japanese culture. They hope to share the excitement and love for Japan they feel with others and hope to inspire a deeper understanding of Japan and its culture.

Education Staff

Lisa Maria D'Aquila
JIS Lead

As a rotary exchange student in high school, and later as a high school English conversation teacher, Lisa Maria has first-hand experience in Japanese Schools. When she heard about the Japan in Schools program, she was very excited to share her experiences with American Students. She joined the Japan in the Schools program as a volunteer in 2004, then as a staff member in December 2012.

Small Business Empowerment Academy (SBEA) Staff

Dale Watanabe
Small Business Program Director

Dale L. Watanabe was appointed Executive Director in May 2012 until November 2023. He was born and raised in the south end of Seattle, graduating from Tyee High School. Watanabe graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and also earned an MBA from Seattle University. He worked for over 20 years with Microsoft as a senior business development manager, before stepping away in 2011. He served as Commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee in 2006 during the initial kickoff of the organization’s $2.5M Capital Campaign to remodel the NVC Memorial Hall, and has served on the NVC Board of Directors since 2004. “I have appreciated the opportunity to be a part of such a well-respected, long-standing organization whose mission it is to foster friendship, cultural exchange, and trade with the land of my ancestors,” says Watanabe. “Japan and U.S. trade, business and cultural exchange are important for many corporations and individuals here and in Japan. I've enjoyed working with and learning from the many JASSW members and volunteers who are dedicated to the mission.”

Kanako Matsumoto
Lead Advisor

After 20 years in public accounting as a CPA, Kanako has started her own accounting and consulting firm to assist small businesses owned by Japanese immigrants. She is passionate about assisting small and micro businesses to maneuver through the complex world of doing business in Washington state.  During COVID, she created many YouTube videos in Japanese to breakdown the rules and regulations of grant and loan programs created by the federal and local governments, so that Japanese-immigrant business owners were aware of and were able to take advantage of those programs.  She is originally from Kyoto, Japan and grew up in a family where her entire family members were serious athletes.  Her childhood dream was to become a professional volleyball player.  Her secret from the past is an experience of singing Karaoke on a float during one of the past Torchlight parades in Seattle.


Fred Harriman
Interpreting & Translations

フレッド・ハリマンは1977年から1994年まで静岡県浜松市にてプロの日本語とスペイン語翻訳・通訳者として活動していました。 現在はここアメリカで引き続きプロの通訳者として活躍しています。

Fred Harriman has worked as a professional interpreter and translator of Japanese and Spanish since the time he lived in Hamamatsu City of Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan from 1977 to 1994. During his years in Hamamatsu with his wife Takayo he participated in the local community as a father of 2 daughters and a son-in-law to Takayo’s Mom and Dad. He also worked in local radio and television as well as volunteering to translate and interpret for the local non-Japanese community.

Here in the U.S. Fred has continued his career as a professional interpreter. He has also worked many years recently as a contract interpreter for the US Department of State – handling DoS program work, ceremonies, conferences, and military interpreting work. He is also registered by the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts as an Interpreter of Japanese.

Fred remarked for this profile: “Japanese people have shown me patience and kindness throughout my life. My fellow Americans can learn much from Japanese culture and the Japanese worldview, and I hope I can play a role in bringing those to the Pacific Northwest."

Miki Smith
Media Coordinator




Hi! My name is Miki Smith. I’m from Funabashi, Japan. I am a media coordinator of Small Business Resiliency Program to help Japanese immigrant and Japanese-American owners of small businesses and microbusiness owners  with their business operations in Washington. Since I arrived in Washington in 2015, I have wanted to work as a bridge between Japan and the United States. It is an honor to be able to do this work at JASSW, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Since 2020, JASSW has partnered with the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington State Small Business Recovery Working Group to stay up-to-date with the newest information regarding small business support. Feel free to contact me! I look forward to helping you.

Satomi Mitsutomi
Program Coordinator

ワシントン州日米協会で、小規模/個人ビジネスを支援する「Small Business Resiliency Program」のプログラム・コーディネーターになりました光富里美です。12年半暮らしたNYから2020年、パンデミック中にシアトルに引っ越してきました。 



Satomi Mitsutomi is a program coordinator of the Small Business Resiliency Program that helps immigrant Japanese and Japanese-American owners of small and microbusiness with their operations in Washington. She began working there in May, 2024. She moved from New York, where she had lived for twelve and a half years, to Seattle during the pandemic. She worked as an occupational therapist in Japan and in New York City. She always wanted to work in jobs that help people. Now, she is looking forward to assisting hardworking entrepreneurs in Washington state.

Past SBEA Staff: Kiersten Zugg, Asaka Tateishi


Yujin Heo

Yujin was born and raised in Gimhae, Korea. She majored in Japanese Interpretation and Translation at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and is currently participating in the KOREA WEST program organized by the Korean government. As the newest intern at JASSW, she is eager to interact with diverse individuals, aiming to contribute not only to JASSW's mission but also to delve into the rich tapestry of Japanese and American culture. Therefore, she wants to build meaningful relationships and gain valuable insights into the vibrant intersection of these two distinct cultures.

Ryutaro Kinjo

Ryutaro (Ryu or KJ) was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan. My name comes from the name of the Ryukyu Kingdom and his grandfather Heitaro. My major is Global Management at Chuo University in Japan and I am currently going to the University of Washington from 2023-2024 studying Global Business Certificate Program.

I love to talk with people from many backgrounds, and my hobby is to play tennis and listen to music from the artist Fujii Kaze. My favourite food is ramen.

My goal as an intern at JASSW is not only to contribute to JASSW but also broaden his horizon.

 沖縄出身の金城 琉太郎と申します。名前の由来は、琉球王国の琉と、おじいちゃんの平太郎の太郎に由来してます。専攻は、中央大学では国際経営学で、ワシントン州ではワシントン大学のGlobal Business Certificate Programに参加しています。



List of Past Interns


List of Our Past Interns

Shion YamazakiApril 15, 2024 ~ May 31, 2024
Ryutaro KinzoFebruary 6, 2024 ~
Yujin HeoDecember 18, 2023 ~ July 28, 2024
KyungYoung (Jenny) KimApril 10, 2023 ~ November 19, 2023
Christie JungMarch 31, 2023 ~ July 8, 2023
Taira ShimotsuyaFebruary 27, 2023 ~ June 1, 2023
Koki MatsumuraJanuary 23, 2023 ~ March 30, 2023
Harin ParkOctober 3, 2022 ~ January 20, 2023
Chihiro MatsuoJune 29, 2022 ~ September 2, 2022
Moena YamakawaJune 29, 2022 ~ August 19, 2022
Jiwoo JungApril 4, 2022 ~ July 31, 2022
Satoshi MikiJune 2022
Ellen UchidaApril 2021 ~ December 19, 2023
Isami February 24, 2020 ~ April 3, 2020
RioFebruary 3, 2020 ~ February 27, 2020
DaichiFebruary 3, 2020 ~ February 27, 2020
Tomohiro IshiiJanuary 2020 ~ February 2020
Naoki KokubuNovember 1, 2019 ~ 
Randy UnJuly 2019 ~ September 2019
Tomomi July 1, 2019 ~September 13, 2019
Nanami KikuchiAug 7, 2019 ~ August 30, 2019
ChirikoJuly 2019 ~
Misako SatoJuly 22, 2019 ~
Kana KitahamaFebruary 6, 2019 ~ April 30, 2019
Aya OgataFebruary 1, 2019 ~ February 26, 2019
Yuno TanifujiJanuary 28, 2019 ~ March 30, 2019
Shari MonsonOctober 2018 ~ February 2019
Midori NakanoAugust 16, 2018 ~ August 31, 2018
Hiroki IshiiJune 26, 2018 ~ August 31, 2018
Yuka MuroiFebruary 7, 2018 ~ March 2, 2018
Lee Hyung WooFebruary 2018 ~ June 2018
Nao MiyamotoJanuary 28, 2018 ~ April 1, 2018
Hitomi Kase January 2018 ~
Ryoko YamamotoOctober 11, 2017 ~
Raymond SimOctober, 2017 ~
Chihiro KurokawaOctober 9, 2017 ~ December 1, 2017
Tomomi TsukadaAugust 25, 2017 ~ September 13, 2017
Shohgo MiuraJuly 6, 2017 ~ 
Jumpei AsakuraEnd of February 2017 - Mid-March 2017