2016 Judges & Committee





Takehiro Shimada

Mr. Takehiro Shimada is the Minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Embassy in the United States. He began his post in August 2017 after serving as the Director of Policy Planning Division, Headquarters for the Abduction Issue. Since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1991, he has worked in international peace cooperation, public diplomacy, China affairs, and abduction issues among others. Mr. Shimada is a graduate of Keio University.




Shinichi Hori

In August 2016, Mr. Shinichi Hori was assigned Senior Vice President & General Manager of Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc. Washington D.C. Office. Mr. Hori joined Mitsui in 1986 in the Iron & Steel Planning & Administrative Dept. Since then, Mr. Hori has built his career mainly in the steel business within Mitsui. In 1994, Mr. Hori was assigned Manager of the Steel Department in Mitsui USA, New York. In 2001, Mr. Hori became Director of the Business Initiative & Transformation Dept. of Mitsui USA. After returning to Tokyo, Mr. Hori was assigned Manager of the Electrical Steel Dept. in 2003, and subsequently General Manager of the Investment Dept. (Steel, Mineral & Metal Resources) in 2007. From 2009 to 2012, Mr. Hori was Executive Assistant to the President & CEO and in 2013, he was assigned General Manager in charge of Investment and Planning of Overseas Projects in Iron & Steel Products Business Unit. In 2014 he has become Senior Vice President of Mitsui USA & Divisional Operating Officer of Steel Div. of Mitsui Americas overseeing the steel product business of the entire Americas region. Mr. Hori is a graduate of Waseda University (1986, BA commerce), and has also participated in the Sloan Fellows Program at MIT Sloan School of Management in 2000-2001 where he earned his Master of Science in Management degree.




Nanako Machida

Dr. Nanako Machida is a Professor and the Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Nanzan University. Her research interest includes Japanese linguistics and Japanese language education. Dr. Machida also serves as Associate Director of the Foreign Language Education Center and Deputy Director of the Center for International Affairs at Nanzan University. She received her doctorate in linguistics from University of Wisconsin-Madison.




Chiyo Kobayashi

Ms. Chiyo Kobayashi is CEO of one of Washington DC’s premier boutique consulting firms, Washington CORE. Established in 1995, Washington CORE’s team of 25 full-time professional consultants provides research and consulting services to multinational companies, government agencies, and NGOs around the world. Prior to establishing Washington CORE, Ms. Kobayashi worked for General Electric. She earned her M.A. in International Business from the University of Virginia and her B.A. in American History from West Virginia University after transferring from Tsuda College in Tokyo. Ms. Kobayashi has served as a board member of the local Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese-American Society of Washington.




Kyoko Vaughan

Ms. Kyoko Vaughan is a Japanese teacher at Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County Public Schools. This is her 12th year, and she teaches from Japanese level 1 to AP Japanese Language and Cultures. She graduated from Tenri University in Japan, and learned foreign language teaching methods at UVA. She has been serveing as treasurer of the Mid Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese (MAATJ) since 2016.


Advisory Committee

John Malott



John Malott

Amb. John R. Malott served as President of the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC from 2006 to 2018. Prior to that, his 31-year career in the US Foreign Service included assignments as US Ambassador to Malaysia, US Consul General in Osaka, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Director of the State Department's Office of Japanese Affairs, American Consul in Bombay, Economic Officer at the US Embassy in Tokyo, and civilian adviser during the Vietnam War. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the National War College. In  April 2017, the Government of Japan announced the awarding of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon to Amb. Malott in recognition of his lifelong contributions toward strengthening the relationship and friendship between Japan and the United States of America.

Yoshiko Mori



Yoshiko Mori

Dr. Yoshiko Mori is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Japanese Language Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Georgetown University. Her specialization is in second-language learning and instruction. She has published her work on second language kanji learning, the role of learner perceptions in vocabulary learning, and heritage language learning, in major journals including Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, and Foreign Language Annals. She has taught numerous college-level Japanese language courses from the introductory to the advanced levels, as well as courses in linguistics and second language learning. She currently serves as Co-President of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese.

Yoko Lawless



Yoko Lawless

Ms. Yoko Lawless is the US representative of The Naganuma School, The Tokyo School of Japanese Language.  Ms. Lawless has worked as a management consultant for various global companies.  She is a council member of The Japan-America Society National Japan Bowl and participated in the selection of JET Program participants for more than 10 years. She is a graduate of Seikei University, and has studied Global HR Management at Cornell University and Executive Leadership at Georgetown University.




Koji Otani

Mr. Koji Otani teaches at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) in Fairfax County, Virginia. Prior to his current position, he taught in the Japanese immersion program at the Floris Elementary School in Herndon, VA. He currently serves as an AP Japanese exam reader. He has served as the exam development committee member for SAT Japanese and AP Japanese. He is also the recipient of 2019 AATJ Teacher Award. He received his M.Ed. from the University of Florida.


Executive Director




Takae Tsujioka

Dr. Takae Tsujioka is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Japanese Language at the George Washington University. She has served as the Executive Director of J.LIVE Talk since 2016. Her research interests include Japanese linguistics and language instruction, and her work has been published as books and articles in both fields. She has taught Japanese language courses at all levels of college instruction, and is the recipient of Bender Award for Teaching Excellence at the George Washington University. She currently serves as Co-President of Mid Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese (MAATJ), and is a member of the National Japan Bowl Committee. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University.