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US-Japan Journalism Fellowship

2016 Program

The 2016 cohort of JCIE's US-Japan Journalism fellows traveled to Japan in June to meet with a wide range of leaders from different sectors of Japanese society tackling pressing issues of the day. The fellows took part in a structured weeklong series of meetings with politicians, foreign policy experts, government officials, and civil society leaders followed by one to two more weeks of individualized meetings and site visits.

During their intensive weeklong group program, the fellows discussed US-Japan relations, Japanese policymaking, and societal trends with politicians, foreign policy experts, government officials, entrepreneurs, and Japanese and American journalists. Recurring topics included the challenges of managing relations with North Korea, efforts to strengthen US-Japan security and trade ties, and Japan’s response to the aging of its population. The participants also test drove Toyota’s revolutionary hydrogen-powered car, spoke with a labor union activist, and compared notes with fellow journalists stationed in Japan.


Fellows with Hon. Keizo Takemi


Test driving the Mirai hydrogen-powered car


Policy Experts Government Leaders Journalists Innovativors

Afterwards, the participants stayed in Japan for an additional one to two weeks, traveling to places such as Osaka, Fukuoka, Kobe, Shizuoka, Tokushima, and Kochi for one-on-one interviews. All together, they interviewed more than 100 people, ranging from North Korean refugees to families caring for loved ones with dementia. One visited rural Shikoku to gain insights into depopulation from visiting a town that an artist has been repopulating with life size dolls. Another spoke with farmers who are preparing to deal with the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and visited a sewage plant that is retrofitted to host a fueling station for hydrogen-powered cars. A third spoke with students whose lives have been changed by study abroad initiatives. And another one talked with the lead singers and managers of the band Baby Metal about how Japan is exporting rock music to the United States.


Ina Jaffe talking about rural depopulation

Laura Cooper meeting with the Board of Education

Taylor Wofford interviewing a farmer in Nerima-ku in Tokyo about his coin operated vegetable machine

Julie Makinen covering the impact of TPP on Japanese farmers
Other select individual interviews

Articles by 2016 Fellows


2016 Fellows


Laura Cooper, Wall Street Journal
Laura Cooper is a reporter covering private equity investments in technology for the Wall Street Journal, WSJ Pro Private Equity and The Private Equity Analyst, a monthly print publication of Dow Jones. Before joining WSJ, she had covered mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare space for The Deal, a part of TheStreet.com, and Mergermarket. Prior to joining the world of M&A reporting, Laura worked at the Yomiuri Shimbun, covering business and economics across the United States alongside a Japanese correspondent based in New York. Laura has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from Stony Brook University and currently resides in Brooklyn.

Ina Jaffe, National Public Radio
Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults’ involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long-term care and end of life choices. She also has a regular spot on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon called “1 in 5” where she discusses issues relevant to the 1/5 of the U.S. population that will be 65 years old or more by 2030. She was named one of 50 “Influencers in Aging” by Next Avenue, a PBS publication, where she was commended for her reinvention of reporting on aging.
Ina also reports on politics, contributing to NPR’s coverage of national elections in 2008, 2010, and 2012. From her base at NPR’s production center in southern California, Ina has covered most of the region’s major news events from the beating of Rodney King to the election of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her enterprise and investigative pieces have won awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors, The American Bar Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Alliance for Women in Media.

Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
Julie Makinen is the Beijing Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, covering a wide swathe of Asia including Japan, Mongolia, North and South Korea and Taiwan. She writes about everything from politics and the economy to what Hollywood is up to in the Far East. In addition to the L.A. Times, she’s been a reporter and editor at The Washington Post and the International New York Times. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Julie has a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University and a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from UCLA. She will be a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford during the 2016-17 academic year.

Taylor Wofford, Newsweek
Taylor Wofford is a general assignment reporter for Newsweek magazine with a special focus on U.S. policy and politics. Before Newsweek, Taylor was a freelance journalist writing about culture, including stories about a Japanese tattoo artist living in Brooklyn and a ghost hunter from Queens. Born in Tucson, Arizona and raised in Dallas, Texas, he also enjoys writing about crime, international affairs, technology, science, agriculture and music. He was featured in the HBO documentary "Resolved," about the hyper-competitive world of high school policy debate.


Click here for information on the 2015 program.