SAN FRANCISCO — After 36 years of practicing law in San Francisco, Kaz Maniwa has closed his law practice to take on a leadership role in the non-profit sector.

Maniwa is the new senior vice president of the U.S.-Japan Council, an organization led by Japanese Americans dedicated to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations through people-to-people connections.

Kaz Maniwa

A leader in such Japantown-based organizations as the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Japanese Community Youth Council, and Kimochi Inc., and a founding member of the California Japanese American Community Leadership Council, he first became interested in U.S.-Japan relations over 20 years ago at the suggestion of Shunji Yanai, former Japanese ambassador to the U.S. and former consul general in San Francisco.

“Yanai connected government and business leaders from Japan with Japanese American community leaders,” explained Maniwa. “Prior to this engagement, there was almost an invisible wall between the Japanese American community and Japanese government and business.”

Maniwa has been involved in the organization since its inception in 2009, as a member of the board. Though the organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with a regional office in Los Angeles, Maniwa will continue to work and reside in San Francisco, a city with a strong and active Japanese American community.

“We are privileged to have Kaz join as senior vice president,” said U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye. “He has long been a dedicated member of the Japanese American community and has the experience and enthusiasm to make a major impact on the future of the organization.”

In his new position, Maniwa will strive to continue building a national network of Japanese Americans who are interested in furthering U.S.-Japan relations. He also hopes to develop programs in the areas of NPO (non-profit organization) sector-building, education, leadership training, entrepreneurship, business, women’s issues, bio/medical, clean technology and legislative exchange.

Maniwa can be reached at

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