Out of Command OSI SA Grace Park, third from right, joins U.S. and Japanese officials and members of the 26th Class of Mansfield Fellowship Program Fellows during the Welcome Reception at the Iikura Guest House, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)
Since 1996, the Mansfield Fellowship Program has placed U.S. government officials in Japanese government agencies in accordance with federal law. To date, 178 Fellows have participated in the program, helping to promote personal exchange and mutual understanding between the United States and Japan.
And now, for the first time, the Office of Special Investigations has a special agent among the Fellowship ranks.
*Out of Command SA Grace Park, one of 10 members in the 26th Class of Mansfield Fellows, was welcomed at a reception, hosted jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Mansfield Foundation, and the National Personnel Authority of Japan, at the Iikura Guest House, Sept. 1, 2022.
For the year prior to the Fellowship, Park attended a pre-departure training program, which entailed monthly area studies seminars and weekly individual Japanese instruction.
“I’m truly honored to be the first OSI agent to participate in the Mansfield Fellowship, and extremely grateful to be placed with partners in the Government of Japan that are actively working towards the mutual aim of ensuring a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Park said. “It’s amazing to experience firsthand the depth of this bilateral relationship, and the degree to which Japan and the U.S. are aligned in values and intent.”
At the reception, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi, who was personally involved in establishing the Mansfield Fellowship Program while interning in the office of former U.S. Senator William V. Ross some 30 years ago, noted that in May of this year, the leaders of the United States and Japan confirmed the importance of people-to-people exchanges in fostering the next generation of leaders who will promote a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific."
Minister Hayashi emphasized the significance of the Mansfield Fellowship Program in laying the foundation for future U.S./Japan cooperation and offered words of encouragement to the Fellows.
Following remarks from the Honorable Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Ambassador to Japan; Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture Hiroshi Hase; and others, Mr. Frank Jannuzi, President and CEO of **The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, introduced the 26th Fellowship Class, who expressed their commitment to their placements in Japan and Fellowship goals in Japanese.
“This program provides Fellows with language and cultural immersion, but also an irreplicable level of fulltime, professional immersion into Japan’s government and society,” Park said. “I’m immensely thankful to be afforded this experience, and for the opportunity to build relationships with Japanese colleagues who have been consummate professionals and very welcoming on a personal level.”
The Mansfield Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and practical, firsthand knowledge about Japan and its government. Through their placements, Fellows develop networks of contacts in Japan and an understanding of the political, economic and strategic dimensions of the U.S./Japan relationship. Fellows work full-time with their Japanese colleagues on issues relevant to their professional expertise and provide their perspective while learning from their Japanese counterparts.
The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.
Park envisions her Fellowship experience will be a career-broadening benefit upon returning to OSI.
“Working jointly with partners has always been fundamental to OSI’s mission, and in the current global security environment, it’s even more crucial than before,” she said. “I’m humbled to be sitting with various offices in the Japanese government of varying disciplines, from defense and technology to diplomacy and politics. The vast majority of these offices are not traditionally OSI counterparts, but share the same objective of preserving national and regional security.
“As a Mansfield Fellow, I hope to learn as much as possible to expand my understanding of mutual U.S./Japan strategic concerns and identify opportunities for increased bi- and multi-lateral cooperation,” Park added.
Her follow-on assignment is to be determined, but OSI’s intent is to place her in a position that can directly utilize knowledge and relationships accumulated during the Fellowship in Japan that concludes in the Summer of 2023.
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Editor’s Notes: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release and the Mansfield Fellows website contributed to this article.
*In this instance, Out-of-Command means SA Park is performing duties not directly related to the OSI mission. Park is attached to the Department of the Air Force Fellows office for the Fellowship year with a temporary Duty Air Force Specialty Code of 92S0. OSI still tracks her career based on her permanent AFSC designation, but while she’s in her current position, she does not report through OSI’s chain of command.
** The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation was established in 1983 to “promote understanding and cooperation among the nations of and peoples of Asia and the United States.” The Foundation honors Mike Mansfield, congressman from Montana, Senate majority leader and U.S. Ambassador to Japan.