Our Mission

The Purpose of the American Friends of the International House of Japan is to promote international good will and understanding by encouraging and fostering active relationships among scholars, educators, scientists, business people and other persons from Japan, the United States, and other nations, as well as educational and other institutions. For these purposes, the Corporation shall have the power and responsibility to solicit, receive and allocate contributions to any organization organized and operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes within the meaning ofSection 501(c)3of the IRS Code, including but not limited to contributions to or for the benefit of The International House of Japan, Inc.  


AFIHJ aims to assist the I-House to:

  • Expand its membership, especially through the new Next Generation Fellows Program, for young American leaders in US-Japan relations (information coming soon)

  • To build community among members

  • To enhance programming at the I-House

To accomplish this, AFIHJ seeks donations to provide scholarships for next generation Japan experts in the U.S. to become members of the I-House, and also seeks support for specific projects and programs at the I-House.  Learn more about contributing to the American Friends of the International House of Japan by clicking here.


Future Application Rounds will be Announced Soon.

Materials and Information available here.

The Next Generation Fellows Program provides a generous three-years of support for promising young American leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship to play an active role in the dynamic International House of Japan community. In its inaugural year, the program will competitively select 16 Americans aged 42 and under to become Fellows. The Fellowship will cover initiation and membership costs to the I-House for three years and also allow fellows to participate in the I-House’s Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Program. The program is funded and administered by the American Friends of the International House of Japan in close cooperation with the International House of Japan.

The International House of Japan (www.i-house.or.jp/eng/) is a private, non-profit organization incorporated, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and other private institutions and individuals, in 1952 for the purpose of promoting cultural exchange and intellectual cooperation between the peoples of Japan and those of other countries. The American Friends of the International House of Japan (www.afihj.org/) is a U.S.-based 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization with the mission of promoting international goodwill and understanding by encouraging and fostering active relationships among scholars, educators, scientists, business people and other persons from Japan, the United States, and other nations, as well as educational and other institutions. 

Participant Criteria

  • American citizens or permanent residents aged 42 or under living in the U.S. at the time of application.

  • Must be leaders in some aspect of U.S.-Japan relations. The scholarship will place particular emphasis on leaders from the academic, non-profit, artistic, journalistic, or public sector as young leaders from these fields often have fewer financial resources available to them to support I-House membership costs.

  • Applicants must show significant interest in long-term engagement with the I-House.


·       Fellows will be accepted as members of the International House of Japan (“I-House”). The initiation fees and three-years of membership costs will be covered by the Fellowship.

·       Fellows will also be accepted as members of the new Asia Pacific Young Leaders Program of I-House and be invited to all the events.

·       Fellows will be accepted as members of the American Friends of the International House of Japan.

Selection process

  • Application due dates and selection dates will be posted later in the year.

2018 Next generation Fellows

Ms. Jennifer Butler
Student Relations Manager, Ashinaga
Jennifer Butler is the Student Relations Manager at the Tokyo headquarters of the Ashinaga Foundation, one of the largest nonprofits in Japan which provides educational support to domestic and international students who have lost one or both parents.

Prior to joining Ashinaga, she studied for one year at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama.  She also worked previously as the Study Abroad Coordinator for JSU Global - International Programs Office at Jackson State University and as the Cultural Programs Coordinator in the public diplomacy section of the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, Tennessee.  In Nashville, she founded and co-chaired the Japan-America Society of Tennessee - Young Professionals group. She has also served as a Country Representative for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Alumni Association, participated as a delegate in the TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program and served on the Board of Directors of the Japan-America Society of Mississippi.

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama in International Studies – Asia Concentration with a Japanese minor.  She received her master’s degree from The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom in Japanese Studies with a research focus on International Education Policy in Japan.

Dr. Annika Culver
Associate Professor of East Asian History, Florida State University

Mr. Alexander Evans
MEXT Research Student, Kyushu University

Mr. Ben Garton
Research Manager for BDTI
Ben Garton is currently the Research Manager for BDTI, a Japan-based non-profit focused on board director training and corporate governance reform. He worked as a management-strategy consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton / Booz & Company (now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers), as a digital-strategy consultant for Citigroup, and worked briefly at the National Diet of Japan. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins SAIS under the tutelage of Dr. Kent Calder. 

Dr. Kristi Govella
Assistant Professor, Asia Studies Program, U of Hawaii
Kristi Govella is an Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and an Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center. Her work deals with economic and security policy in Asia, with a particular focus on Asian regionalism and Japanese politics. She is currently working on a number of projects related to economics-security linkages, regional institutions, trade agreements, foreign investment, maritime security, outer space, and cyberspace. She is also writing a book that examines how trade liberalization shapes firms’ interests and their corresponding political strategies through a cross-sectoral analysis of the Japanese political economy. Her publications include Linking Trade and Security: Evolving Institutions and Strategies in Asia, Europe, and the United States (2013). Prior to joining the University of Hawaiʻi, Dr. Govella was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University and an Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Political Science and Japanese from the University of Washington.

Ms. Samjhana Khanal
Director, Social Innovation, Ashoka
Samjhana has led programs in the area of social entrepreneurship, sustainable impact investing and global partnership development for over 15 years with a variety of organizations including Ashoka, the World Bank, and numerous international foundations and non-profit organizations.

Currently she is advising organizations working with women entrepreneurship and gender lens investing in Japan and South East Asia. Samjhana sits on the board of various non-profit organizations in Japan. Samjhana holds a BA from the University of Vermont and Kansai Gaidai University, and Master in International Public policy from SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Samjhana lives in New York and speaks Nepali and Japanese.

Dr. Tom Le
Assistant Professor of Politics, Pomona College
Tom Le is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College. Tom’s research interests include militarism norms, Japanese security policy, and war memory and reconciliation. His work has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies and International Affairs and the Journal of Asian Studies, as well as in popular media outlets such as Foreign AffairsThe Washington PostThe Hill, and The Diplomat. Tom received a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and BAs in History and Political Science at the University of California, Davis. Tom is a research associate at the PRIME Institute (Meiji Gakuin University), a CSIS US-ROK NextGen Fellow, an AFIHJ Next Generation Fellow, and former Fulbright Scholar and non-resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow.

Dr. Philip Lipscy
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
Phillip Lipscy is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He is also The Thomas Rohlen Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. His fields of research include international and comparative political economy, international organizations, and the politics of East Asia, particularly Japan.  Lipscy’s book from Cambridge University Press, Renegotiating the World Order: Institutional Change in International Relations, examines how countries seek greater international influence by reforming or creating international organizations.  His research addresses substantive topics such as international cooperation, international and domestic institutions, the politics of financial crises, and the politics of energy and climate change.  He has also published extensively on Japanese politics and foreign policy.  Lipscy obtained his PhD in political science at Harvard University. He received his MA in international policy studies and BA in economics and political science at Stanford University. 

Dr. Hiroya Miura
Artistic Director, IMJS/Japanese Cultural Heritages Initiatives, Columbia University

Dr. Makiko Oku
Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University

Ms. Mina Pollmann
PhD Student, MIT
Mina Erika Pollmann is a PhD student at MIT, and a member of the Security Studies Program. Her research interests are Japan’s security and diplomacy, US foreign policy in East Asia, alliance networks in East Asia, and the application of international relations theory to the Asia-Pacific. Her dissertation topic focuses on the alignment strategies of rising powers. After graduating Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service summa cum laude with a BS in Foreign Service, she worked for TV Tokyo-America and a DC-based risk consulting start up. Mina is a recipient of the Walter A. Rosenblith Presidential Graduate Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Dr. Kay Shimizu
Research Assistant Professor of Political Science, U of Pittsburgh

Ms. Shanti Shoji
Co-Founder and Vice President, Kizuna Across Cultures
Shanti Shoji is Vice President and Co-founder of Kizuna Across Cultures (KAC), which aims to promote students’ global awareness and communicative competence in a foreign language through its unique virtual cultural and language exchange program, Global Classmates. At KAC, Shanti leads operations for the Global Classmates program. Before cofounding KAC in 2011, Shanti worked in Japan for six years as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) on the JET (Japan Exchange Teaching) program in Kagawa Prefecture and as a Program Manager for LABO International Exchange Foundation in Tokyo. She then returned to the US and served as the Cultural Affairs Coordinator at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan. Shanti has extensive experience in the fields of international exchange and cross-cultural communication. She received her Master’s in International Communication from American University’s School of International Service and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and International Studies from the University of Oregon.  

Ms. Jolie Thevenot
Executive Director, Japan-America Society of Alabama
Jolie is the Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Alabama, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Japanese culture in local communities and promoting goodwill between Japanese and Alabama businesses. She studied abroad at Nihon University as part of her undergraduate International Studies program and has since collaborated with multiple universities, Sister Cities programs, and other cultural organizations around Alabama. As her society focuses strongly on US-Japan business relationships, she would like to branch out and learn from other fellows to create more academic and educational programming.

Dr. Joshua Walker
Head of Strategic Initiatives and Fellow, Eurasia Group
Dr. Joshua W. Walker (@drjwalk) is Global Head of Strategic Initiatives and Japan at the Eurasia Group, Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and professor of record at George Mason University along with his other affiliations.He lived in Japan from the age one to eighteen. After graduating from the University of Richmond, Dr. Walker worked at the U.S. embassy in Turkey as a Fulbright Scholar where he learned Turkish to compliment his native-level Japanese. He earned a PhD at Princeton University where he worked on comparisons of Japanese and Turkish views of their imperial histories and impacts on their respective foreign policies.

Previous to his current positions, Dr. Walker was the President and CEO of the USA Pavilion at the 2017 World EXPO in Astana, Kazakhstan, and Senior Vice President at APCO Worldwide. He alsoserved in the State Department as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and for the Joint Chiefs at the Department of Defense focused on public-private partnerships and strategy more broadly.

Mr. Eugene Yi
Co-Founder and President, Cortico
Eugene Yi is Co-founder and President of Cortico, a non-profit in cooperation with the MIT  Media Lab, aiming to foster constructive public conversation in communities and in the media  to improve our understanding of one another. He is a Visiting Researcher at the Laboratory for  Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab.  

Previously, Eugene led product for the Electome project in the Laboratory for Social Machines  at the MIT Media Lab, using machine learning analytics to track the horserace of ideas in the  2016 U.S. presidential elections for media organizations and the Commission on Presidential  Debates. From from 2013 to 2016, he was the Head of Asia Public Policy for Twitter and  helped build Twitter’s market presence in Asia and developed the company's hyperlocal and  global corporate social responsibility mission. He worked for Tencent on the WeChat  international business team in 2012. He served in the U.S. Department of State at Embassy  Beijing as a Political Officer covering Internet freedom, Islam in China, and the Six-Party Talks  from 2009 to 2011. He was a Strategist for East Asia national security issues for the Office of  the Secretary of Defense in the U.S. Department of Defense and formerly served as a Country  Director for China and Korea at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Policy from 2008 to  2009. Eugene is a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar, Asia 21 Young Leader at the Asia  Society, Google Next Gen Policy Fellow, and a Fellow at the International House of Japan.  

He is fluent in English, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese, and has basic proficiency in Japanese.  Eugene graduated with honors from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s and a Master in  Public Affairs degree in the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs as a  Robertson Scholar. He lives in New York City and volunteers as a science mentor for girls who  want to be coders and makers. 

The I-House network

American members of the I-House comprise a dynamic group of scholars, practitioners, and business leaders engaged in building deeper bonds between American and Japanese society.