Member Spotlight - United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese


In 1992, the company now known as United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese began as a franchisee of Management Recruiters, one of the world's largest recruitment agencies. Originally named Management Recruiters Japanese, the company specialized in recruitment and staffing for Japanese companies, and it consistently remained in the top 50 among 1,400 chain stores worldwide in terms of annual sales numbers.

In 2012, upon its 20th anniversary, the company left the franchise to become independent, renaming itself United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese. Based in Murfreesboro, the company's strengths are in the Midwest and South, but its operations are spread throughout the United States. Recruiters utilize the company’s custom technology and deep databases to narrow down the best talent, ranging from entry to executive level. In particular, it has a great track record of finding qualified bilingual people who can speak English and Japanese, and it has connected the cultures of Japanese and America companies. 

Q&A with Yukari Ishii, President of United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese


What drew you to United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese originally?

Japanese is my native tongue, and after I moved to America with my husband, we were seeking an opportunity to be entrepreneurial and to capitalize on our bilingual skills, and a recruiting company that focused on staffing the needs of growing Japanese businesses seemed like a unique corner of the market that we could capture. Almost 30 years later, we’ve developed a rich network of businesses who continue to rely on us to find new talent.

In particular, I’m drawn to the recruiting business because it’s gratifying to help someone at a crossroads in their life. When a person takes the plunge into a new job, it can be daunting especially when it involves moving to a new home or finding a new school for their children, but hopefully this career change will improve their life’s trajectory. I’m there to act as a guide in those challenging and vulnerable moments for job candidates, and brokering a successful match between candidate and company provides a great deal of personal satisfaction every time.

How is your company’s involvement with JAST a win-win?

United Recruiters / Mr. Japanese joined JAST in 2005, and I became a member of the Board of Directors in 2012. I think I’m able to bring a unique perspective to the Board because I’m one of a relatively small number of Japanese women who have been longtime Tennessee residents and are actively involved in the corporate world. 

Since we’ve been living and working in this community for almost 30 years, we have deep relationships with many Japanese executives that I can call upon when JAST is hosting a new event or advocating for a new cause. We’ve supported the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival since its inaugural event 12 years ago. I really appreciate the fact that JAST provides great opportunities to build networks within the Japan-Tennessee community. Because of JAST, our Japanese members are able to stay connected to their roots even when far from home, and our businesses can help each other grow.

What advice or favorite quote would you share with the Japan-connected community to inspire us during a challenging time?

My favorite quote is “ 企業は人なり“ "Business is people." 

Panasonic's founder, Mr. Konosuke Matsushita, shared that quote with me, and it really resonates. When managing a business, your priorities should be to help your people develop and thrive and to make the best use of what they have to offer.

Japan-America Society of Tennessee Receives A Community Thrives Grant


We are excited to announce that JAST was selected to receive a $2,500 Local Operating Grant from USA TODAY NETWORK and The Gannett Foundation! Thanks to our generous donors, we exceeded the minimum contribution amount to be eligible for a grant during the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Tree Replanting Project fundraising drive.

JAST was named one of twenty nonprofit Local Operating Grant recipients in Tennessee. The A Community Thrives grant will support JAST’s goals to promote social, cultural, scientific and educational interchange between Tennessee and Japan and to encourage appreciation and respect for the cultures of the people of Japan and Tennessee.

A Community Thrives is a grantmaking and crowd-funding program from USA TODAY NETWORK and is part of The Gannett Foundation. A Community Thrives supports non-profit organizations with projects focused on community building and has helped to contribute more than $12 million since 2017.

“We are proud of the work Japan-America Society of Tennessee has done to enhance Japanese and American communities in Tennessee. At Gannett, we take pride in supporting the organizations that make a positive impact in their communities. Through A Community Thrives, we lend financial support to that purpose as well as rally the whole community to champion a good and meaningful cause,” said CEO and Chairman Mike Reed in a press release announcing JAST’s selection.

JAST Graphic Designer Christa Schoenbrodt Selected for 2021 Master Artist/Apprentice Program


JAST congratulates Christa Schoenbrodt, Studio Haus owner / art director / graphic designer / illustrator. Christa has been selected for the 2021 Master Artist/Apprentice Program (MAAP) from Tennessee Craft. 

For almost 20 years, JAST has enjoyed and appreciated Christa’s insight and creative experience. Christa designs JAST promotional materials, and she created the JAST logo and the logos for our signature events - Memphis Japan Festival, Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, Tennessee-Japan Forum and Women’s Leadership Forum.

Christa started Studio Haus in 1996, after working in various design studios and ad agencies in Louisiana and Tennessee. Over the years, Studio Haus has been awarded graphic design and illustration contracts with other clients in fields ranging from corporate to book publishing to non-profits.

In partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Master Artist/Apprentice Program offers artists a unique opportunity to learn traditional and contemporary craft skills firsthand from master craft artists. The program was created to boost artists to the next level of their professional development through an intensive six-month one-on-one mentorship, not typically available in most learning environments.

Christa will apprentice with printmaker and textile artist Jeanne Brady, and her work will be exhibited in the fall of 2021 at the Tennessee Arts Commission. Jeanne has been a professional artist for over forty years. She is Professor Emeritus from Tennessee Tech University’s School of Art and a full-time studio artist, and she teaches workshops in various methods of surface printing. Jeanne’s work is represented in private collections and has been published in numerous books and craft magazines.


JAST is on YouTube!

Looking for something to watch during the holiday season? 

Check out the JAST YouTube Channel and recordings of our 2020 virtual events. 

  • Nashville Cherry Blossom Virtual Festival

  • Memphis Japan Week

  • Cooking with JAST: Tennessee Kitchens, Japanese Style

  • Women’s Leadership Forum

  • Daily Living Tips for the Japanese Community

Entertaining, educational, inspiring and family-friendly! Enjoy viewing our videos and share them with your family and friends.

Watch Here

Guide to Daily Living in Tennessee 


JAST's Guide to Daily Living in Tennessee is now available! It's for newcomers and long-time residents originally from Japan to familiarize them with essential information on aspects of daily life that may differ from life in Japan and other parts of the world where they may have lived before relocating to Tennessee. Please let your Japanese friends know about this guide. We hope this will be helpful to our Japanese community! 

Upcoming NAJAS Events


Japan in 2021: A Look at the Year Ahead

January 13, 2021  6:30 pm - 8:45 pm EST


Each January, Japan-America Society of Washington DC partners with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to hold their Japan in the Year program. Japan in 2021 will convene experts across the United States, Japan, and the Indo-Pacific for a virtual version of the program.

Challenges, opportunities, and major events await Japan in 2021, notably related to its recovery from the global pandemic, hosting of the delayed Summer Olympics, the beginnings of the Suga and Biden administrations, and various geopolitical and security developments. Join us as we ask our panels of experts to assess the year that lies ahead for Japan and the US-Japan relationship.

Join the hosts of this event as they ask their guests to assess the year ahead for Japan and the U.S.-Japan relationship. The event will feature a fireside chat between Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae and Ambassador John Roos, moderated by Dr. Sheila Smith. This program is part of the NAJAS Japan Currents series and is sponsored by the Embassy of Japan.


You are also invited to attend these virtual events:


Mr. Keijiro ‘Kent’ Hora, CEO & President, Mitsubishi Electric US, and Chief Representative of the America’s Region will share his personal and professional perspective on raising a family overseas and the challenges and opportunities that come from blending differing work styles of the Japanese and American workforce. Mr. Hora’s career at Mitsubishi Electric spans multiple leadership assignments in the United States, Hong Kong and Japan across several industries. He will also address the growing importance of the U.S. – Japan strategic alliance and how Mitsubishi Electric is contributing to this key global partnership.


2021 Mochitsuki New Year’s Celebration

January 16, 2021 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM CST


Enjoy Japan’s rich New Year’s traditions through music performances, a mochi-pounding demonstration, kakizome – the first calligraphy of the year, origami demonstration and a unique video from Japan!


Virtual Film Screening & Discussion: Persona Non Grata

Screening starting on January 20, 2021 for 5 days

Discussion on January 23, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST


Join film director Cellin Gluck, Sugihara Diplomats for Life Foundation Chairman Linas Venclauskas, and Staci Rosenthal from Facing History & Ourselves for a discussion of the unknown story of Chiune Sugihara. A Japanese diplomat in Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara issued transit visas to Jewish refugees from July 18 - August 28, 1940, saving their lives.

The film will be available on Wednesday, January 20th for five days. The film follows Sugihara's life from his early days in Manchuria to his eventual posting in Lithuania. Watch it at your convenience, and join the discussion on January 23rd.


Partner Resources COVID-19 

JAST is generously supported by these outstanding partners


Austin Peay State University

Baker Donelson

BB&T now Truist

Jack and Barbara Bovender

DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.

Humanities Tennessee

Clay and Cathy Jackson

Komatsu America Corp.

The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation 


Office: +1 615-663-6060