2020 Judges & Committee

The Japanese Program at The George Washington University is grateful for the invaluable support from the following individuals.


Final Round Judges

Masashi Mizobuchi

On July 9, 2020, Mr. Masashi Mizobuchi assumed his position as Minister-Counsellor for Public Affairs and Director of the Japan Information and Culture Center at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. He has three decades of experience in the United States, having served on four occasions starting with the Embassy (1991-1993), followed by the Consulates General (2002-2005 in Los Angeles, 2016-2020 in New York), and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations (2007-2011 in New York). Most recently, he was Deputy Consulate General and Director of Political Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in New York where he primarily provided analysis on regional domestic politics. From 2012-2014, he served as Senior Policy Coordinator at the Foreign Policy Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There, he oversaw all aspects of the Foreign Ministry’s policy on Africa, Central and South America, and on development assistance and global issues such as climate change. Minister-Counsellor Mizobuchi graduated in 1988 from Keio University where he studied law. He is married and has two daughters.

Takakazu Yamagishi

Dr. Takakazu Yamagishi is Professor in the Department of Global Liberal Studies at Nanzan University. He received a Ph.D. in political science from Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include American politics, Japanese politics, and comparative public policy. One of his major publications is War and Health Insurance Policy in Japan and the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011). He also serves as the Director of Center for International Affairs.

Mark Williams

Dr. Mark Williams is Vice President for International Academic Exchange at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. Until 2017, he was Professor of Japanese Studies and Head of East Asian Studies at the University of Leeds, UK. He took his BA in Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford and a PhD in Japanese Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He was Chair of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Leeds between 2006-11 and President of the British Association for Japanese Studies, 2007-11. Between 2011 and 2014, he was seconded to Akita International University, Japan, where he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs. He has published widely in both English and Japanese – on themes such as Christianity and Japan, the literature of post-war Japanese author, Endō Shūsaku, and literary representations of the Asia Pacific War.

Junko Mori

Dr. Junko Mori is professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has taught Japanese language and linguistics since 1999. As an applied linguist, she has examined various types of social interactions involving first and second language speakers of Japanese and more recently examined the issue of diversity and inclusion in the classroom and various types of Japanese-speaking professional communities. Currently, she is serving as the president of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese.

Ikuo Nishimura

Mr. Ikuo Nishimura is General Manager of the Washington Office of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings. Now at the midpoint of his career, much of his work has been devoted to climate change mitigation efforts, leading to the development of the international climate regime and the “pledge-and-review system for industry actions on climate change.” He has also contributed to international workshops for technology transfer, public-private partnerships, and low carbon pathways. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Nishimura was assigned to the Climate Change Unit of the World Bank as a senior environmental specialist. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in engineering from Waseda University and a Master’s Degree in city planning from MIT.

Advisory Committee

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

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

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.

Noriko Otsuka

Ms. Noriko Otsuka is a Japanese Immersion teacher at Fox Mill Elementary School in Virginia. She is a member of the National Japan Bowl Council and the Japanese Language Education Advocacy and Resource Network (J-LEARN), and writes questions for the National Japan Bowl and the Mid-Atlantic Junior Japan Bow. She served as Co-President for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese for 2018-2019. She majored in International Relations at Tsukuba University and earned M. Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University.