Japan Society Announces the Retirement of President Motoatsu Sakurai

May 15, 2019 | New York — Japan Society today announced that President Motoatsu Sakurai will be retiring. A search for his successor has begun and Mr. Sakurai will remain in his position throughout the transition period.

Mr. Sakurai has led the organization since April 2009. Prior to that, he served as Ambassador and Consul General of Japan in New York from March 2006 through March 2009, during which time he helped found the annual Japan Day @ Central Park. His 40-year career in the private sector included positions as President and CEO of Mitsubishi International Corporation and President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York. Before his appointment as Ambassador, he was a member of Japan Society’s Board of Directors. Mr. Sakurai is the first Japanese national to hold the position of President.

During his 10-year tenure as President, Mr. Sakurai refocused and strengthened the Society’s mission, attracting a growing audience to its art exhibitions, performances, film festivals, business and policy panels, workshops and demonstrations, and language classes. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, he quickly established the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (JERF) to aid survivors in the Tohoku region, distributing more than $14 million to recovery and reconstruction efforts. His diplomatic experience and vast professional network spurred corporate membership and the reputational growth of the Business & Policy Program, which hosts programs and networking opportunities for the international business and policy community.

“We are grateful to Motoatsu Sakurai for his tireless commitment to Japan Society,” said Chairman of the Board Joseph R. Perella. “His leadership has been crucial to the organization’s stability and growth over the past 10 years. He will be missed, but he has ensured that we are well positioned for a dynamic and prosperous future.”

Japan Society has hired Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm, to identify a talented and diverse pool of candidates for the position.

About Japan Society
Founded in 1907, Japan Society in New York City presents sophisticated, topical and accessible experiences of Japanese art and culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and innovation between the U.S. and Japan. More than 200 events annually encompass world-class exhibitions, dynamic classical and cutting-edge contemporary performing arts, film premieres and retrospectives, workshops and demonstrations, tastings, family activities, language classes, and a range of high-profile talks and expert panels that present open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.


Media Contacts:
Christian Barclay, 212-715-1205,
Asako Sugiyama, 212-715-1249,

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