BEYOND Tomorrow U.S. Summer Program 2015

~Creating future leaders from Tohoku that can serve as a bridge between Japan and the U.S.~



Global Fund for Education Assistance undertook BEYOND Tomorrow Summer Global Program – U.S. Summer Program 2015 – in the summer of 2015. The program selected students from Tohoku with aspirations to rise above hardships of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and become leaders with a global outlook, and sent them to New York and Boston. The students visited organizations and individuals working to make a difference in society and learned about the country’s history and culture. The students also served as ambassadors of Tohoku to American people by engaging in exchange activities in the two cities. In Memory of the late Jiro Murase, who made exceptional contributions to the U.S.-Japan relations, the project was undertaken as Jiro Murase Memorial Scholarship with the generous support of United States-Japan Foundation and Japan Society Jiro Murase Memorial Fund including the donation by the Murase Family.


August 4 – 5 Orientation in Tokyo
August 5 – 14 Program in the U.S. (Boston and New York)


8 university and high school students from Tohoku

Riko Fujii(BEYOND Tomorrow / Teruhide Sato Special Scholar)
Department of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University (Graduate of Morioka First High School, Iwate Prefecture)
Riko lost her grandfather in the tsunami. The people and places she was close to were all taken from her. Since studying abroad in Malaysia after the disaster, she wants to communicate not only the lessons she learned from the disaster, but also what she learned in Southeast Asia to her BEYOND Tomorrow friends, and to contribute to BEYOND Tomorrow’s activities. She dreams of becoming a politician in the Iwate prefectural assembly in the future so that she can be someone who can represent the interests of people in vulnerable circumstances in the local administration. Riko is currently studying politics at university, with a focus on regional development.
Honoka Inamura
Miyagi Gakuin High School
Honoka lost her house in Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. After the disaster, she spent one year in Bolivia where she shared her experience of the disaster with local people. In the U.S. Summer Program, Honoka looks forward to thanking the international community for their support, which helped people in Tohoku disaster communities to move forward with hope while reconstruction in coastal areas is taking a long time. In the future, she would like to study Japanese, English, Spanish and many more languages and cultures, and show the world great things about Japan.
Megumi Ito
Fukushima High School, Fukushima Prefecture
Megumi’s dream is to go to medical school after graduating from high school and then proceed to graduate school in the United States to become a doctor that can work globally. She hopes to engage in research for and actions against HIV/AIDs such as development of vaccines. In the U.S. Summer Program, Megumi wishes to meet people working to make society a better place, and get insights for global actions.
Shinnosuke Kai
Aizu High School, Fukushima Prefecture
Shinnosuke’s dream is to work for children suffering in poverty and wars. In order to achieve his dream, he hopes to study at a university in the United States, meet many people, share his values, and learn engineering skills. Then, he would like to work to empower children and develop their personalities. In the U.S. Summer Program, he looks forward to exchanging ideas with people and gaining wisdom rather than just knowledge.
Natsuko Oikawa
Takata High School, Iwate Prefecture
Natsuko lost her house in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. She thinks that there is a lack of collaboration between the community and the government in addressing issues in temporary housing in her community, and she hopes to share it with the world. After graduating from high school, Natsuko hopes to go to university, study cross-cultural communication, and also study abroad. She hopes to apply her learning in the United States to rebuilding her hometown in the future.
Keisuke Saito
Ishinomaki Industrial High School, Miyagi Prefecture
In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, there are many people still feeling stressed about being in evacuation for long, and Keisuke feels the need to mobilize youth to continue support for these disaster victims. In the future, he would like to support vulnerable people with a legal approach, and would like to become a lawyer or serve in legal profession. In the U.S. Summer Program, Keisuke hopes to broaden his perspectives and learn to think broadly and flexibly.
Mutsumi Sakuma
Yonezawa Higashi High School, Yamagata Prefecture
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Mutsumi evacuated from Fukushima to Yamagata. In the aftermath of the disaster, she was feeling lonely in the new place, and then she joined BEYOND Tomorrow, where she was able to talk about things she had kept to herself for a long time, things she could not even tell her parents or friends. Travelling overseas for the first time this time, Mutsumi hopes to receive a lot of inspiration and also get a clear vision for her future. She also hopes to tell the world about people that are not able to return to their homes due to nuclear threats like herself.
Mahiro Sawada
School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, Waseda University (Graduate of Sendai Second High School, Miyagi Prefecture)
Mahiro was deeply shocked by the devastation that Ishinomaki experienced immediately after the disaster. He felt that he was privileged to be alive and that every day was precious, and that if that was the case he should consider what he could do. This was the starting point for contemplating his future. While he was a high school student, he visited Europe on BEYOND Tomorrow’s program, and was greatly drawn to the airline industry, which concentrates the wisdom of the world to work on development. In the future Mahiro hopes to work in aircraft development, and to introduce innovations in the aircraft industry, such as through the development of drones that can deliver assistance to remote areas that are isolated in times of disaster.



Prior to departure for the U.S., the participants joined the 2-day orientation program. During the orientation, the students thought about the meaning for visiting the United States on behalf of Tohoku students and received words of encouragement by the supporters.

Orientation session with Yasushi Akashi, Chairman, International House of Japan and Naoyuki Agawa, Professor, Keio University

Message from Daijiro Hashimoto, former Governor of Kochi prefecture and Member of the Board, Global Fund for Education Assistance | BEYOND Tomorrow

Session with Mrs. Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan, at Prime Minister’s residence

Session with Mrs. Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan, at Prime Minister’s residence

Program in the U.S.

During the 10-day program, the participants visited Boston and New York, and interacted with leaders representing various fields. Through such opportunities, the students envisioned their future roles to make a difference in society, and thought about their career plans with broad perspectives. They also served as Tohoku ambassadors by speaking about the current situation in Tohoku for American people.


Presentation about the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami and the region’s recovery at University of Massachusetts Boston

Visit to Camp Harbor View and cultural exchange with local students

New York

Baseball game at Yankee Stadium

Picnic with JET alums in Central Park

Discussion on global career with Japanese professionals working in international organizations in NY

Visit to 9/11 Tribute Center and session with the 9/11 victims’ families and friends

Session with Valerie Rainford

Presentation at the closing plenary at Nippon Club

Voice of the participants

I want to be a doctor that can work globally in the area of HIV/Aids. During the program in New York, I had an opportunity to meet with a female leaders active in the field, and I continue to keep in touch with her. Meeting her helped to know different options for working in the field of HIV/Aids and understand necessary steps for pursuing graduate studies in the U.S.. In the future, I hope to be a bridge between Japan and the U.S. by framing the Japan-U.S. relations from the perspectives of global health and helping the two countries make contributions to the international community in the medical fieds.

Megumi Ito
Fukushima High School, Fukushima prefecture

I was most impressed by the experience of sharing the stories of 3/11 and 9/11 at the 9/11 Tribute Center. Not only was I shocked by how little I had known about 9/11, I strongly felt the importance of sharing personal stories of difficult experiences as I heard the stories of those who were affected by the 9/11 incidents and also those who worked in the rescue team. I hope to continue speaking about my experience, and in the future, I hope to study English and study in the U.S.

Honoka Inamura
Miyagi Gakuin High School

Supported by:

United States-Japan Foundation

Japan Society Jiro Murase Memorial Fund

In cooperation with:

Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)

MIT Japan Program