Recently JASH participated in a community symposium to raise awareness of the importance of educational exchanges for promoting country-to-country relations, focusing on the important U.S.-Japan relationship. The symposium, “Building Relations Through Educational Exchanges” was held at the Hawaii Convention Center as part of programs surrounding the annual Honolulu Festival held in March. This year was the special 20th Anniversary of the Festival and the organizers requested a symposium focusing on relations between Hawaii and Japan, to include Nagaoka City which for the third year in a row provided a spectacular fireworks display off Waikiki Beach.
JASH organized the symposium, inviting former Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi as the keynote speaker, with presentations from Nagaoka City Mayor Tamio Mori, University of Hawaii’s Dr. Robert Huey, Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature, and Dr. Mary McDonald, Director of the Center for Japanese Studies. Governor Ariyoshi stressed the importance of education and educational exchanges for laying the groundwork for future good will, Mayor Mori told the story of “Kome Hyappyo” hundred sacks of rice that stressed how community leaders in Nagaoka sacrificed the town’s present well-being for the future of its people, and Drs. Huey and McDonald discussed how Hawaii and the U.S.-Japan relationship benefited from University of Hawaii’s many educational opportunities for Japanese students and the numerous educational exchanges with schools in Japan. JASH President Ed Hawkins gave a presentation on a U.S.-Embassy endorsed strategic campaign to promote educational and cultural exchanges as a path to future cooperation, highlighting programs such as JASH-sponsored Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention, Japan Wizards, the Rainbow for Japan Kids project and the U.S.-Japan Council led TOMODACHI Initiative. An audience of about 100 attended this important bilateral event.