Mission Japan confronts racism and systemic inequality

CDI members Uyanga Erdenebold and Laura Sheehan, joined by seeing eye dog
CDI members Uyanga Erdenebold and Laura Sheehan, joined by seeing eye dog "Dunaway," work on a community podcast highlighting members of the community to showcase the diversity within Mission Japan. Photo by Mikayla Conners

By Thanh C. Kim

Following George Floyd’s death, May 25, 2020, Mission Japan members organized a virtual discussion on race that reached more than 200 community members, leading to a clear, collective call to action.    

 “We all have a duty, including within our own community here, to address racism in any form, while promoting diversity and all its benefits,” said Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Joseph Young.  

 Nearly 50 community members volunteered to create a Council on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), and Mission Japan has been reaping the benefits since its formation. Following a survey sent to their community members, CDI facilitated several panel discussions on racial inequality and produced a community podcast series. CDI also worked with the Regional Security Office to create identification cards for chief of mission minors in response to alleged ethnic and racial profiling by local police. With the full support of senior leadership, CDI further collaborated with hiring managers to implement new accountability and transparency measures in the Summer 2021 selection process.

 “The CDI not only seeks to raise awareness and contribute to a cultural change, [but] we are [also] focused on institutional reforms,” said Christina Le, CDI’s executive committee co-chair. “A more diverse Mission Japan that is representative of America and promotes and fosters an inclusive environment would more effectively build stronger relationships with our host government and its people and formulate and implement policies in our national interest.”

Mission Japan’s CDI aims to create and sustain an environment where every member of the community feels empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work and where diverse experiences and perspectives are valued and incorporated into the workplace and Mission life. For more information contact Mission Japan’s CDI team.

Thanh C. Kim is a deputy information officer in Embassy Tokyo’s Public Affairs Section.

Previous articleWarrior for Peace
Next articleApril 2021 | Digital Archive