Lessons Learned From Japan

Councilmember Sharona Nazarian found herself thousands of miles away from Beverly Hills this holiday season. Accompanied by husband Daniel and sons Noah, Aaron and Jonah, Nazarian traveled to Japan on a trip that proved both enriching and productive. The family visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakonen, taking in ancient sites, while also imparting a bit of Beverly Hills along the way. 

“The motivation behind the trip was both personal and partially became professional, seeking inspiration from Japan’s unique blend of tradition and modernity. The stunning landscapes, historic temples and vibrant cityscapes left a lasting impression on us, providing a valuable perspective on global diversity,” Nazarian told the Courier. 

While not an official trip, Nazarian did take the time to meet with one of Japan’s most distinguished politicians, Masako Mori. The two connected after a mutual contact recognized that they shared much in common, beginning with their leadership styles. Both women clearly have impressive backgrounds. 

Nazarian was long active in public service on city and county levels before winning a seat on the Beverly Hills City Council in 2022. She moves into the post of vice mayor this spring and in 2025, will serve her first term as mayor. 

Mori has served in the House of Councillors, the upper house of the national legislature of Japan (known as the Diet) since 2007. She has also held major posts in the government, including Special Advisory to the Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Minister in Charge of Women’s Empowerment and Child-Rearing, and Minister of State for Gender Equality. A lawyer by training, Mori completed a fellowship at New York University School of Law. 

It is no surprise that the two hit it off. In fact, their meeting, which took place near the American Embassy in Tokyo, lasted several hours. 

“Ms. Mori and I found common ground in our commitment to advancing the rights and roles of women and women empowerment. We discussed policies and initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality, drawing from our respective experiences. We spoke about the duality of being a mother (she has two daughters) while serving in an elected position,” said Nazarian. 

The two also discussed global issues and challenges. Nazarian has been at the frontlines—both literally and figuratively—in speaking out against the oppression of women throughout the world. In particular, she has led efforts to bring attention to the Mahsa Amini case in Iran, as well as to the victims of the brutal Hamas attacks. It was especially powerful to sit amidst the stately government buildings in Japan and convey the unique perspectives of Beverly Hills. 


The Nazarian family (from left) Jonah, Aaron, Daniel, Noah and Sharona at a temple in Kyoto
Photo courtesy Sharona Nazarian

“Our conversation primarily focused on sharing insights into effective governance and addressing societal challenges. We spoke about the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, and the role that elected leaders can have on being a voice for women around the world. We also spoke about the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, and how women were used as pawns and the unspeakable atrocities of war,” Nazarian recounted. 

Other topics of common interest included transportation. Now that Beverly Hills finds itself on the Metro Purple (D Line) corridor, it can certainly heed some observations from the world’s leader in mass transit.

The mass transit conversation, said Nazarian, “provided valuable insights for addressing similar challenges in our respective constituencies. We discussed safety, efficiency and cleanliness.”

The Nazarian family also gained some hands-on knowledge about the Japanese transportation model by hopping on public transit during the visit.

Perhaps most importantly, the meeting with Mori established a foundation for a warm working relationship. 

“We expressed mutual interest in continuing our dialogue and exploring opportunities for collaboration. We are exploring the possibility of future meetings, both in person and virtually, to strengthen our connection and work toward common goals,” said Nazarian.

With the new year beginning and a new job role in a few months, Nazarian feels the journey to Japan will continue to provide invaluable insights here at home. 

“I am always looking for opportunities to introduce fresh and innovative ideas to our community, particularly from a global view. I firmly believe that embracing possibilities can lead to valuable insights and growth. We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but there is always room for improvement. I was very impressed with the meticulous urban planning and efficient mass transit in Japan. Of course, the spectacular spirit and beauty of Beverly Hills is like no other city in the world. Both places share a commitment to progress, and I look forward to implementing lessons learned from Japan in our local context.”

She can no doubt also take comfort in a well-known Japanese proverb, which states, “When you have a good government, the grass will grow over your troubles.”