Senate Office of International Relations

The Senate Office of International Relations (SOIR) plans and arranges meetings, receptions, and substantive programs for international dignitaries who are making official visits to the Senate. The office provides translation assistance, information dissemination, and acts as the official liaison between the California Senate and the 140 California Consulates General; providing ongoing assistance and information regarding the California Legislature to the California Consular Corps. SOIR assists with Senate projects that further mutual cooperation and understanding, closer educational and cultural ties, and greater trade and investment opportunities between California and other nations. These projects include seminars, trade missions, sister state relationships, and other visitor and information exchange programs.

SOIR also provides staff support required to maintain the California International Relations Foundation.

California International Relations Foundation

The California International Relations Foundation (CIRF) oversees the implementation of the program, assists with technical and philanthropic support, coordinates actions with state officials, seeks grants and information dissemination, and recruits new California school district participation.

CIRF is a private, non-profit public benefit corporation that has been organized under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation provides assistance to the California Senate in furthering the exchange of economic, educational, and cultural information between government leaders and other citizens of foreign countries and Members of the California Legislature and other citizens of California. Such exchanges include but are not limited to, information relating to government, trade and commerce, agriculture, tourism, technology, education, environment, and the arts.

Japanese Government

The Consulate of Japan aids in all diplomatic matters concerning Japan; finding new prefectures in Japan, assists in visa and passport applications, helps to remedy transportation concerns in Japan, and alleviates culture shock by providing pre-exchange information to participating school districts. The Consulate also assists in financial matters, both in terms of gathering private financial support and Japanese prefectural support.


Visits to Japan every year since 1996 by Members of the California Senate strengthened the framework for the success of the California Japan Scholars Program. On March 18-26, 2005, a California Senate Delegation visits the Japanese Diet, its National Legislative building. Participants included Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi, Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, Senator Sheila Kuehl, Senator Alan Lowenthal and also CIRF Board Members Kevin Kinnaw, Scott Keene, and George Steffes

Osaka Prefectural Government

The Osaka Prefectural Government, California Office, opened on April 1, 1997 in San Francisco. The office was established to strengthen the relationship that exists between the State of California and the Prefecture of Osaka, Japan. In November of 1994, the two states concluded a cooperation agreement to enhance the strong cultural ties between Osaka and California and to establish broader economic relations.

Since the first California-Osaka Scholars Program in 1997, now referred to as the California-Japan Scholars Program, the Osaka Prefectural Government, California Office serves as a liaison between Osaka and California. They are the main contact that bridges the language barrier to assure effective and smooth communication between the participating schools and their boards of education.

Elk Grove Unified School District

Elk Grove Unified School District is the premier participant of the CA-Japan Scholars Program. Ms. Cheryl Wilken, Ms. Ikuyo Sanchez and Ms. Carrolyn Shinozaki had institutionalized a well structured program within their district that has allowed for an efficient exchange of inbound and outbound students. Currently Ms. Gracie Terraras, Ms. Christina DeWaal, Ms. Yukiko Kozuma and Ms. Atzuko Kiuchi are responsible for the management of the day to day operations of the program.  They are also instrumental in responding to questions on school administration and policy from interested school districts.

California Department of Education

Under AB 2902, “The Superintendent of Public Instruction was instructed to develop and implement a specific plan to help achieve the objectives contained in the April 17, 1996, Joint Statement between the United States and Japan providing for the educational exchange of high school pupils between the two countries. The plan shall include ways to best utilize a strong cooperative relationship between California and the Osaka Prefecture that was established pursuant to the Cooperation Agreement dated November 15, 1994, between the State of California and the Prefecture of Osaka.” (Section 48054 of the Education Code) In 1997 and 1998, the California Department of Education (CDE) in co-operation with the California International Relations Foundation, administered the program. Students were selected based upon a written essay, grade point average, and completion of the application and parent approval form. Over 400 application were received by the CDE and were reviewed by a selection committee composed of the staff of state legislative offices, California Department of Education, the staff of the Consulate General of Japan and other individuals involved with education and international relations.

In 1999, the California International Relations Foundation took over all administrative duties.


Notice: These web site references are provided for informational purposes only. The Japan Scholars Program assumes no responsibility for the content posted at web sites maintained by outside organizations.


California Japan Scholars Program
1020 N Street, Suite 516 · Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 651-1515 · FAX (916) 414-3706
Email · California/Japan Scholars Program


Office Address