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This event is open to the public; you do not need to have served in Japan to attend.

Thanks to the generous support of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and National Association of Japan-America Societies, there is no cost to attend.

JOIN US on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 4:00PM (HST) [9:00PM (EST)] for our JASH Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP) on "The Critical Role of the U.S.-Japan Alliance in the Pacific."

This year, we are honored to welcome keynote speaker Suzanne Vares-Lum, president of the East-West Center, and panelists Casimira Rodriguez and Rena Sasaki of the Pacific Forum’s U.S.-Japan Next Generation Leaders Initiative. This program will be moderated by Barbara Tanabe, owner and founder of Hoʻakea Communications, LLC and JASH Board Director.

Opening remarks will be given by Consul General Yutaka Aoki of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu, and Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA Director of Programs Shanti Shoji.

The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP) connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan through social networks and grassroots events. JUMP is the only national program to do so, providing a powerful foundation for sustaining the alliance between the U.S. and Japan. To learn more about JUMP, visit

Keynote Speaker

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Suzanne (Suzy) Puanani Vares-Lum took office as President of the East-West Center in January 2022. She is the first woman, Native Hawaiian, and Hawaiʻi resident to be chosen for this role. Vares-Lum brings executive leadership and planning experience spanning the past several decades, culminating in five years serving with and advising the most senior officials at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, where she cultivated and maintained key relationships with nations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. 


As a retired Major General with 34 years of service, Vares-Lum has held key roles addressing priority national security challenges in the region. After retirement, she formed Vares-Lum Indo-Pacific Consulting, LLC to provide consulting and advising on regional issues. She is a seasoned keynote speaker and advocate on Indo-Pacific issues; leadership and mentorship; and Women, Peace, and Security. She led collaborative initiatives in the Pacific, including Hawaiʻi, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. ​ 


As a community leader, Vares-Lum serves on a variety of non-profit boards, including the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region. She has also served on committees that promote Hawaiʻi’s economic diversification, workforce development, and community dialogues on issues regarding land and water. She has also served as a Strategic Advisor to the Hawaiʻi Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council. ​ 


She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1989 and her Master of Education in Teaching in 1996 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. As a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, she earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree in 2011. In 2019, she became a National Security Fellow of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also an alumna of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. ​ 


Vares-Lum received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2017. Additionally, the State of Hawaiʻi House of Representatives, Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation presented her with certificates of recognition for outstanding service to the State of Hawaiʻi in 2021.



Casimira "Cassie" Rodriguez is a graduate student and SINSI fellow at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with an A.B. in politics and certificates in East Asian Studies and the History and Practice of Diplomacy, completing a senior thesis on Japanese security policy. Following graduation, she studied advanced Japanese in Yokohama at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies as a Blakemore Freeman fellow and presented her research on alliance politics. She has interned at both the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Washington, D.C., taking part in research on U.S.-Japan issues and helping facilitate U.S.-Japan exchange events. Her areas of research include Japanese foreign policy, the international relations of East Asia, and security politics. As part of her SINSI fellowship, she will complete two years of federal government service before graduating from her Master in Public Affairs program. She is currently working at the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs with the Japan Desk and will embark on her second rotation at USINDOPACOM in Honolulu in the spring of 2022.

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Rena Sasaki is a graduate student of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and pursuing a M.S. in Foreign Service. She is currently a member of the Pacific Forum’s Young Leaders Program (2021 Cohort) and she is also a 2021-2022 cohort member of the U.S.-Japan Next Generation Leaders’ Initiative. Sasaki was a senior associate at a global management consulting firm, and has engaged in defense and security projects with the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the defense industry for more than five years. She has deep knowledge of defense equipment acquisition, the domestic supply chain of defense manufacturers, and game-changing technology. She has also experienced several research projects on China's military and economic security. Sasaki graduated from Waseda University with a bachelor’s in engineering and a master’s in engineering, and majored in statistics.


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Barbara Tanabe is Founder of Hoʻakea Communications, LLC (a public affairs company). Tanabe started her career as a News Anchor in Washington at KOMO-TV becoming one of the first Asian-American woman News Anchors on the West Coast. Tanabe won an Emmy Award for her piece “The Fence at Minidoka,” a documentary on Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, one of the first television documentaries to raise the issue in the U.S. In Honolulu, while at KHON-TV, she became the first female News Co-Anchor of Asian descent on July 29, 1974. She holds an B.A. in Communication from the University of Washington and an M.B.A. from the University of Hawaiʻi. She is a member of the boards of JASH, Pacific Forum, the American Judicature Society, and Bank of Hawaii.

For more information, please email Lila Frisbie at or call 808-524-4450.
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