Vibrant Japanese culture in the United States doesn’t exist only on the West and East coasts; there are hundreds of opportunities for Japan-U.S. citizen diplomacy in the American Midwest.

Fostering Japan-U.S. relationships in the American Midwest

The J-Center serves as a clearinghouse for all things Japanese in the American Midwest. An online database of Japanese cultural organizations, community exchanges, sports clubs, language groups, and business associations highlight the vibrant network of Japan-related opportunities in 12 states of the American Heartland.

The J-Center strengthens, promotes, and expands existing exchange and outreach activities aimed at fostering ties between Japan and the American Midwest. J-Center operations unite educational, governmental, business-oriented, and non-profit organizations with the shared vision of strong Japan-U.S. relationships.

  • U.S.-Japan Citizen Diplomacy

    In March of 2011, the Center for Citizen Diplomacy received a three-year grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP). The grant’s aim is to increase access to Japanese society and culture in areas of the United States where such access has historically been limited.

    To foster relationships between Japan and 12 states in the American Midwest, a new J-Center was established at the Center headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. The J-Center works to identify, network, and promote organizations that offer programming opportunities related to Japanese culture, language, and history in the American Midwest.

    The J-Center serves Japan-related opportunities for citizen engagement in 12 states of the American Midwest:

    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Kansas
    • Michigan
    • Minnesota
    • Missouri
    • Nebraska
    • North Dakota
    • Ohio
    • South Dakota
    • Wisconsin
  • Connecting Opportunities

    In order to better connect Japan-related resources in the Midwest region, the J-Center created an online database of all community and educational organizations that offer opportunities for people to engage with Japanese culture, language, and the arts. The searchable database includes for than 500 organizations to date, each creating vibrant opportunities for Japan-U.S. citizen diplomacy in local Midwestern communities.

    View the Database >>

  • Convening Thought Leadership

    The J-Center brings together leaders from Japan and the United States dedicated to developing the best Japan-focused programs and curriculum for communities and classrooms in the American Midwest.

    International conferences assembled by the J-Center (in Des Moines, Iowa, 2012 and Tokyo, Japan, 2013) are opportunities to highlight current critical thinking in key sectors and helps shape the future of relations between organizations, institutions, individuals, and corporate citizens in the American Midwest and Japan.

    Download the Des Moines Conference Report
    Download the Tokyo Conference Report

  • Bringing Resources to Educators

    One of the core objectives of the J-Center project is to expand educational outreach about Japan to K-12 schools in the American Midwest through promotion of and greater access to available curricula and teaching materials.

    The J-Center partnered with seven trusted organizations dedicated to curriculum development, offering lesson plans and collateral materials aimed at introducing key components of Japanese culture and history to English- speaking classrooms around the world. The J-Center brings together these sources of classroom content to ensure the highest quality materials are available here, reducing the time teachers spend searching online for Japan- centered lesson plans.

    Educators are encouraged to read the lesson plan overviews available from the content providers listed below and to click the purple link at the top of each lesson overview or to visit the website address listed on each provider page to download the related materials.

    Download the J-Center K-12 Education Resource Guide

  • Celebrating in Local Communities

    In order to further promote Japanese cultural offerings in the American Midwest, the J-Center staff made site visits to selected cities in the 12 states served by the J-Center.  These visits were scheduled to coincide with public events in local communities that celebrate Japanese culture and art. View photos from the visits, see social media activity during the tour, and watch videos from each of the events below.

  • Experienced Leadership

    The J-Center program benefits from the direction of a dedicated team of international advisory council members in the United States and Japan. These leaders have decades of experience in guiding the Japan-U.S. relationship through education, government relations, business development, and community exchange.

    • The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta
      Vice Chair, Hill & Knowlton
    • Ms. Yume Hidaka
      Program Manager, The Laurasian Institution
    • Dr. Toko Igarashi
      Professor, Joetsu University of Education
    • Mr. Robert W. Karr, Jr.
      Principal, Masuda Funai Law Firm
    • Mr. Peter Kelley
      President, National Association of Japan-America Societies
    • Dr. Sachiko Murphy
      Japan Program, Des Moines Public Schools
    • Dr. Downing Thomas
      Associate Provost & Dean, University of Iowa