Global Alumni Speaker Series

The Global Alumni Speaker Series is an opportunity for alumni and students to learn about the inspiring work and lives of ICU alumni, and to engage in meaningful dialogue. Each of the online sessions will feature an ICU alum who lives or has lived outside of Japan or who has pursued a career that is global in nature. Sessions will be open to students and alumni, and registration is required.

Each session will begin with a 15 minute presentation by the featured alum, followed by 45 minutes of moderated Q&A dialogue. JICUF hopes this will be an opportunity for students and alumni to connect and learn valuable lessons from one another. Session attendance limits may vary by session.

Registration is required to attend!

Are you an ICU graduate who would like to be featured in a future session? Contact us at!


Session 11: Yoshihiko Higuchi & Miki Sumiyoshi
Thursday, April 29: 9PM ~ 10PM JST

Yoshihiko Higuchi: During the summer break of his sophomore year at the International Christian University (ICU), Yoshihiko took a spontaneous trip to Israel to work at a banana field. Initially, his plan was to stay only one month. However, he eventually chose to extend his stay to a full year to more fully experience his new life and new challenges. In this time, he learned Hebrew, which he continues to use in his work to this day. After graduating from ICU, he furthered his studies in graduate school in Japan, where he also returned to Israel to study abroad at a university. Yoshihiko joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2013 after various experiences including time as a  freelance interpreter, TV coordinator, and special researcher at the Embassy of Japan in Israel. Since 2017, he has been working at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C.

Miki Sumiyoshi: Miki was born in Japan, but because of her father’s area of work she spent her elementary school years in Seattle, Wash USA, and her secondary school years in Vancouver, BC Canada, where her interest in various cultures and communication with different people grew. Miki started her career as an Announcer at NHK, Japan’s sole public broadcasting organization. She worked at Fukushima station, Sendai station and Tokyo headquarters, experiencing a wide variety of media work from presenting, narrating, news casting, interviewing and live-reporting, to researching, directing and producing TV and radio shows. After working with NHK for 15 years, she became a freelance TV/Radio host. She has been hosting the popular wide morning radio show “Blue Ocean” (Tokyo FM) since 2012, and is going into her 10th year this April. Miki lives in Tokyo with her husband and four beloved cats.

This session will feature two alumni. This session will be conducted in Japanese.


Session 12: Sayaka Watanabe
Thursday, May 13: 9PM ~ 10PM JST

After graduating from ICU in 2005 (Asian Studies major), Sayaka completed the master’s program in Human Security at the University of Tokyo. She worked as a business consultant at IBM from 2007 to 2011. She founded a non-profit organization in 2011 and a for-profit company in 2013. Through the two organizations, she offers consulting and research services as well as human resources development and training for Japanese companies that aim to operate in Asia and Africa. In 2014, Sayaka founded the Asian Women Social Entrepreneurs Network (AWSEN) , which supports women entrepreneurs in ASEAN and East Asian countries.

  • Session 1 (10/15/20): Masako Kawashima 

    Masako Kawashima is an entrepreneur, translator, event producer, and international concert booker. She is the proud founder of the frozen yogurt brand Sno:la. She is based in Los Angeles. (ID75)

    Session 2 (10/30/20): Marito Hayashi

    Marito Hayashi is a neuroscience postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. A graduate of ICUHS and ICU, he studied at UC San Diego as an exchange student and returned there for his doctorate studies. (ID07)

    Session 3 (11/5/20): Shizuka Pohl

    Shizuka Pohl is a Senior Fund Oversight Officer at Danske Invest Management, Luxembourg Branch. She has additional experience living and working in NYC, Boston, and Stockholm. (ID98)

    Session 4 (12/14/2020): Yoshimi Horiuchi

    Yoshimi Horiuchi founded Always Reading Caravan in 2010, which has been officially registered as Bookworm Foundation (BWF) since June 2018. She was born nearly blind, and lost all sight in her late teens. (ID 07)

    Session 5 (1/14/2021): Yumiko Matsuoka

    Yumiko Matsuoka is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and a professor in the Ear Training department. She has also taught vocal writing in the Contemporary Writing and Production department. While studying at Berklee, she founded Vox One to fulfill her dreams of writing and performing in an a cappella ensemble.

    Session 6 (2/10/2021): Kakeru Tsubota

    Kakeru is a Senior Principal at Transformation Office, SAP Japan. Kakeru also serves as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of EDISON Project, an SAP internal startup that provides responsive, real-time disaster prevention platform to public sector customers.

    Session 7 (2/24/2021): Koji Miyazaki

    Koji is the Director for Japanese Partnerships at Plug and Play, an early stage investor and largest corporate innovation platform in the world. PNP invests in 200 startups every year; portfolio includes PayPal, Dropbox, Lending Club, Honey.

    Session 8 (3/16/2021): Jessica Cork

    Jessica Kennett Cork is Vice President of Community Engagement and Communications at YKK Corporation of America.  Her primary responsibilities include managing government & public relations, corporate communications for YKK Corporation’s North and Central America Group, and corporate philanthropy management.

    Session 9 (3/24/2021): Mai Onozawa

    Mai Onozawa is the Managing Director of JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) Kuala Lumpur office. She began working at JETRO in 1996 and has served many roles throughout her time there, including Deputy Director of the JETRO Overseas Research Dept., Chief Deputy Director of JETRO Osaka, and Chief Director of JETRO Niigata.

    Session 10 (4/8/2021): David McCagg

    David McCagg has a different kind of connection to ICU than most. As the son of an ICU professor and dean, David grew up on ICU’s campus and spent most of his childhood exploring ICU’s forests and playing soccer on its fields. After graduating from the American School in Japan, David moved to California to attend the University of Redlands, but soon returned to ICU as an OYR in 2006. He has been working for NHK’s Washington DC Bureau as a producer since 2014, where he works on stories about American politics.