U.S. CULCON mourns the loss of Minoru (Ben) Makihara, former co-chair of the Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON) and special advisor. Mr. Makihara led the binational advisory panel along with U.S. counterparts, Chairs Thierry Porte and Harry Hill, from 2008 through 2014. Ben’s appointment as CULCON chair signaled a renewed focus on CULCON’s value as an advisor to leaders in the Japanese and United States government. During Ben’s tenure, CULCON raised visibility about the importance of the Japan-United States relationship in areas ranging from arts and culture to public policy. His business acumen and strong leadership helped revitalize CULCON as a change agent in public diplomacy.
“Ben’s strong leadership and ideals helped not only elevate CULCON and the initiatives derived from its work, but also advance people-to-people exchange between Japan and the United States in ways that will have long lasting impact,” said Dr. Sheila A. Smith, U.S. CULCON Chair. She added, “Ben leaves a legacy of programs and initiatives that nurture a new generation of stewards of the U.S.-Japan partnership.”
Responding to geo-political and demographic change in Japan and the United States, Ben voiced a sense of urgency about the need to build a pipeline of Americans and Japanese who would safeguard and deepen ties between our two countries. Drawing upon his own experience studying abroad, Ben was an indefatigable advocate for investments in educational exchange.
“Ben’s early education as a high school student at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, and later a graduate student at Harvard Business School influenced his understanding about the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship and his commitment to educational and cultural exchange,” said Paige Cottingham-Streater, Secretary General U.S. CULCON.
Mr. Makihara’s influence will be felt for generations to come. The members of the U.S. CULCON Panel extend their heartfelt sympathy to Mrs. Kikuko Makihara, his family and his many, many friends on both sides of the Pacific.