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Asian American State Legislators Travel to Japan to Build Relations with Leaders

Clockwise from top left: Mark Chang, Steven Choi, Michelle Kidani, Yuh-Line Niou, Theresa Mah, Fue Lee

WASHINGTON – Six Asian American state legislators are traveling to Japan as part of the 2018 Asian American Leadership Delegation (AALD) Program.

The program consists of a one-week trip from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8, when the delegation will travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka to meet with Japanese political and government leaders, business executives, nonprofit leaders and academics to exchange ideas as well as create networks that can mutually benefit the U.S.-Japan relationship.

AALD is funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and implemented by the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.

The AALD Program began in 2014, and 23 delegates have participated to date. The 2018 delegation includes the following six legislators. For four of them, it will be their first trip to Japan.

• Delegate Mark Chang, Maryland General Assembly

• Assemblymember Steven Choi, California State Assembly

• State Sen. Michelle Kidani, Hawaii State Senate

• State Rep. Fue Lee, Minnesota House of Representatives

• State Rep. Theresa Mah, Illinois House of Representatives

• Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, New York State Assembly

As part of the program, the delegates will speak at a panel discussion titled “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators.” Many of the delegates have followed non-traditional paths, choosing to become a politician after pursuing different careers. The audience will have the opportunity to learn about their personal choices, as well as the important role Asian American politicians play in their political arenas, especially in light of current events.

Consul General Karen Kelley, U.S. Consulate General, Osaka-Kobe, will moderate the discussion. Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC president, and Irene Kawanabe, director of the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators, will also join the symposium. This event will be held on Monday, Dec. 3, at the Garden Oriental Osaka, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

For more information about the program and to read the biographies of all six delegates, visit For more information on USJC, visit

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