U.S.-Japan Conference – Speaker Biographies

U.S.-Japan Conference Speaker Biographies

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Merit E. Janow
Dean Emerita, & Professor of Practice, School of International & Public Affairs Columbia University

Merit E. Janow is an internationally recognized expert in international trade and investment. She has extensive experience in business, academia and government, and has had life-long involvement with Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. She has been on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Columbia Law School since 1994, and served as Dean of SIPA from 2013 through 2021. She remains on the Columbia faculty and teaches in SIPA & Law, co-directs a Asia-focused research center at Columbia Business School and co-directs a start-up program in digital entrepreneurship. Janow has had three periods of government service: at the WTO, the U.S. Justice Department and USTR. Professor Janow currently serves as independent Chairman of the Board of Mastercard, as well as a Board member of funds within the American Funds/Capital group, and Aptiv. She is Chair of the Board of Japan Society and is also a member of the Board of the National Committee on US China Relations and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is on the global advisory council of MUFG. She has a JD from Columbia Law School and a BA in Asian Studies with honors from the University of Michigan.

Eri Kakuta
Partner, PJT Partners

Eri Kakuta is a Partner in the Strategic Advisory Group at PJT Partners, based in New York. Ms. Kakuta has over 25 years of investment banking experience across a range of business sectors in the US, Asia and Europe. Ms. Kakuta joined PJT Partners after three years at Deutsche Bank, where she was the Head of Cross Border Coverage for financial services. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Ms. Kakuta held various leadership positions at Goldman Sachs including Global COO of the Financial Institutions Group and Secretary to the Investment Banking Division Client and Business Standards Committee. During her more than 10-year tenure at Goldman Sachs, Ms. Kakuta devoted a substantial amount of her time advising financial institutions globally on strategic M&A assignments and played key roles in a number of landmark transactions. Before joining Goldman Sachs, Ms. Kakuta was at Morgan Stanley, where she began her investment banking career as an Analyst. Ms. Kakuta was based in Morgan Stanley’s New York and Tokyo offices and was active across a wide range of investment banking businesses including M&A, equity & debt financing, risk management and principal real estate investing. Ms. Kakuta serves on the board and the Executive Committee of the Japan Society in New York City and is a member of the US-Japan Council. Ms. Kakuta has a BA from Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku) in Tokyo, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Linda Kirkpatrick
President, the Americas, Mastercard

Linda Kirkpatrick is president of the Americas, responsible for Mastercard’s business in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. This includes relationship management, business development, and execution of strategy with financial institutions, merchants, digital partners, fintechs, and governments. Linda brings a broad understanding and appreciation of customer and stakeholder needs. Prior to this role, she served as president of North America, as well as president of US financial institutions where she expanded the company’s engagement model with banks beyond core payments. Linda also led the US acceptance organization where she deepened partnerships and service offerings with merchants and acquirers in the market, and across the enterprise. Since joining Mastercard in 1997, Linda has held several leadership roles, and contributed to the evolution of the company’s business model and culture. She spent over a decade in global and corporate functions, including managing standards and compliance programs, working on the company’s initial public offering, establishing the company’s investor relations function, and building commercial rigor within the organization. Passionate about financial inclusion and volunteerism, Linda serves on several boards including Accion, Japan Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Partnership for New York City. She sits on the Global Board of Advisors at Operation Hope and is a Trustee at Manhattanville College. The World Economic Forum named Linda a Young Global Leader in 2015 and she is a David Rockefeller Fellow. In 2020, Linda was named on the 2020 Bloomberg 50, Bloomberg Businessweek’s annual list of innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who have changed global business. Linda graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Manhattanville College.

Haruhiko Kuroda
Former Governor, Bank of Japan; Visiting Professor, International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Haruhiko Kuroda was Governor of the Bank of Japan from March 2013 to April 2023. Prior to his position at the BOJ, Professor Kuroda served as President of the Asian Development Bank from 2005 to 2013. He was also Special Adviser to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Koizumi, while he was Professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo from 2003 to 2005. During his career at Japan’s Ministry of Finance from 1967 to 2003, Professor Kuroda’s responsibilities encompassed fields including international finance and tax policies. From 1999 to 2003, he represented the Ministry as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs at numerous international monetary conferences, such as the G7 and G20 meetings. Currently, he is a Professor and Senior Fellow at GRIPS Alliance (the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies). He is a Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Professor Kuroda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law from The University of Tokyo and a Master of Philosophy in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Tak Niinami
President & CEO, Suntory Holdings Limited*

Tak Niinami is the Chief Executive Officer of Suntory Holdings, one of the world’s leading consumer products companies with operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Tak spent the first 20 years of his career at Mitsubishi Corporation, where he held a number of management positions and founded Sodex Corporation (now LEOC Co.), a hospital food service joint venture between Mitsubishi and Sodexo of France, ultimately taking the company public in 1999. Prior to joining Suntory in 2014, Tak was CEO of Lawson, Inc., which he grew into one of Asia’s major convenience store operators. Outside of Suntory, Tak has served on the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy as senior economic advisor to the Prime Minister since 2014, the longest serving business leader in Japan. He has served for former Prime Ministers Abe and Suga, and the incumbent Prime Minister Kishida. He also represents Japan corporate executives as Chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. Tak is also Asia Pacific Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, Chair of the Asia Business Council, Vice Chair of the United States-Japan Foundation, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, the Global Board of Advisors of the Council on Foreign Relations, and The Business Council in the US. Tak received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

*Estimated Market Capitalization: US $65 Billion

Sidney Olinyk
Founder & CEO, Duco

Sidney Olinyk is the Founder & CEO of Duco, which empowers leading companies to operate safely, securely, and responsibly by mobilizing the world’s leading experts. An entrepreneur and former Obama Administration political appointee, Sidney’s career spans technology, trust and safety, national security, and policy–from the Pentagon to civil society to the startup world in Silicon Valley. She has executive experience driving growth, scaling international teams, and advising executives at multiple organizations in both the private and public sectors. Sidney’s private sector experience includes serving as Vice President of Business Development at the global development organization Sayara International and as the first employee at a US-based drone startup called Measure. At the Truman National Security Project, Sidney directed the organization’s democracy and human rights initiative, fellowship program, and leadership development department. In the Obama administration, Sidney served as the Chief of Staff for Middle East Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense where she was the principal advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy and supported the Secretary of Defense in developing strategy, implementing organizational change, and managing interagency coordination across a number of U.S. national security priorities. Earlier in her career, she also served at the U.S. Department of Justice where she conducted legal research and advising for multi-billion dollar proposed acquisition investigations. Sidney is a National Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a visiting Fellow at the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, a Board Member at Globally and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, Guild Member at the NFX venture firm, and a startup advisor. She holds a M.Sc. in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a dual B.A. in International Studies and Media & Government Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. Sidney is an avid explorer and globetrotter and has hiked dozens of U.S. national parks and visited 50+ countries. She has led foreign policy delegations in Turkey and Azerbaijan, developed and implemented youth programs at a refugee camp in Kenya, was selected as an Emerging Leader at the German Marshall Fund’s Atlantic Dialogues conference in Morocco, and contributed to the Japan Foundation’s Young Researcher Program in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Douglas Peterson
President and Chief Executive Officer, S&P Global

Douglas Peterson has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of S&P Global since 2013. He joined the company in 2011 as President of its credit ratings business. Mr. Peterson has repositioned S&P Global to power the financial markets of the future with data, analytics and benchmarks. Under his leadership, the company has steadily made investments in people, international expansion, cutting-edge technology, innovation and environmental, social and governance, or ESG, solutions. In February of 2022, S&P Global completed a transformative merger with IHS Markit to create powerful new solutions for customers. The combination and Mr. Peterson’s focus on the customer has enabled S&P Global’s 35,000-plus people to deliver deeper insights, expertise and serve as a trusted source of information for corporate decision makers and world leaders. Mr. Peterson is a leading voice on ESG issues. He chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center’s ESG Taskforce, and in 2021 he led a workstream of the G7’s Impact Taskforce focused on mobilizing private capital for public good by advocating for globally consistent standards to measure, value and account for sustainability. At S&P Global, Mr. Peterson created a new organization within the company, Sustainable1, to be a single source of intelligence for customers navigating the transition to a low carbon, sustainable and equitable future. Before joining S&P Global, Mr. Peterson was the Chief Operating Officer of Citibank, N.A., Citigroup’s principal banking entity. Over his 26 years at Citigroup, he served as Chief Auditor, CEO of Citigroup Japan and in leadership roles in Latin America. Mr. Peterson chairs the U.S.-Japan Business Council and is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Japan Society and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Stock Exchange Board Advisory Council. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee and as a Trustee of Claremont McKenna College and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Born and raised in New Mexico, Mr. Peterson received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College.

Akihisa Shiozaki
Member, House of Representatives and Liberal Democratic Party; Parliamentary Vice-Minister, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan

Akihisa Shiozaki serves as Member of Japan’s House of Representatives, and is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, representing District No. 1 of the Ehime Prefecture. He currently serves as the Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. He served as the Executive Director of the LDP’s “web3 Project Team” and the “AI Project Team.” Previously Akihisa was widely recognized as an expert attorney in corporate crisis management, including regulatory investigations, white color defense, product recall, labor/employment disputes, import/export control, media interaction and various corporate governance issues, especially those with multi-jurisdictional or parallel civil and criminal components. In recent years, he has advised both domestic and foreign clients in resolving a number of the most high profile corporate crises cases relating to Japan, including the LIBOR/TIBOR manipulation investigation, FX manipulation investigation, global product recall by a Japan auto-parts manufacturer, international trade secret theft in the semiconductor industry, government investigations against a global pharmaceutical corporation operating in Japan, and his representation of the former CEO of Olympus Corporation who brought light to the company’s recent accounting scandal. In 2017, Akihisa was awarded the Compliance / Investigations Lawyer of the Year at the Asian Legal Awards hosted by The American Lawyer, in association with The Asian Lawyer, China Law & Practice and Legal Week. Akihisa worked in the Prime Minister’s office as senior policy advisor from 2006 to 2007 and is knowledgeable in Japanese regulations /rules and governmental procedures, as well as having rich experience dealing with the media. He also serves as the vice-chairman of the Anti-Yakuza Committee at the Daiichi Tokyo Bar Association and has authored many related publications. He graduated from the University of Tokyo (LL.B.), holds an M.A. in international policy from Stanford University, and completed his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he served as class president.

Joshua W. Walker
President & CEO, Japan Society

Joshua W. Walker, Ph.D., became President & CEO of Japan Society in December 2019. Previously, he worked at Eurasia Group, the world’s leading political risk analysis firm, where he served as global head of strategic initiatives and Japan in the Office of the President. Prior to that, he was CEO and president of the USA Pavilion of the 2017 World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan; founding dean of the APCO Institute; and senior vice president of global programs at APCO Worldwide, a leading global strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C. Before joining the private sector, he worked in numerous roles at various U.S. government agencies, including the State Department and the Defense Department.

He is Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and professor of Leadership and the American presidency at George Mason University and the Reagan Foundation. He was also Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and co-founded the Yale Journal of International Affairs. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree from Yale University, and a doctorate from Princeton University. Dr. Walker grew up in Japan where his parents still serve as missionaries, came to the United States when he was 18, and is bicultural and bilingual.