“The goodwill of the Japanese people is America’s greatest strategic asset in the Asia-Pacific region.” With these words, Mr. Mark Davidson, Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo framed the importance of this public symposium. Mr. Davidson identified Youth Engagement and Social Media as one of those strategic pillars. With close cooperation and support from the United States-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON), JASH held a public symposium on cultural and educational interchange in Hawaii to kick off the new year. Nearly 100 leaders from the community composed of educators, non-profits, think-tanks, and government groups gathered at the iconic I.M. Pei-designed Imin International Conference Center at the East-West Center to hear experts from Japan and the U.S. who had gathered for this occasion.
The symposium was conceived to take advantage of the CULCON Educational Task Force Meeting, held this year in Honolulu. Attending this event were nearly 30 U.S. and Japan experts on education to discuss its annual report, looking for solutions to address the declining interest of Japanese studying in the U.S. and the low U.S. student numbers studying in Japan. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State, Honorable Susan Stevenson led off the symposium by stating how the U.S. government stresses the importance of promoting international exchanges, including educational ones. Following Ms. Stevenson’s remarks, Mr. Masato Otaka, Minister for Public Affairs, Embassy of Japan in the United States listed the recent problematical trend of decreasing numbers of Japanese studying in the U.S. and what this meant to Japan’s future economic viability and security. Mr. Otaka added that the Abe Administration through the Ministry of Education has set goals to double the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. by 2020. The last presentation was by Mr. Mark Davidson who covered all aspects of the importance of cultural and educational interchange, inspiring all of us to continue with our programs. Notably, Mr. Davidson listed a number of programs JASH has or is conducting to support cultural and educational interchange, focusing on the successful Rainbow for Japan Kids program that brought Japanese children from the disaster region of Japan to Hawaii for rest, recuperation, and physical/psychological relief, awarding of exchange scholarships through the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, and recently assisting three locations in Japan (Nagaoka City, Ehime Prefecture, Shizuoka City) to apply for “Friendship Blossom” dogwood tree planting, a gift from the U.S. to Japan to mark the 100 year anniversary of the gifting of cherry trees to the United States in 1912.
Please visit the JASH Facebook page for additional photos of this event.