We are excited to share reports on the 68th JASC written by the newly elected American Chair and Vice Chair of the 69th JASC!
Yuta Baba, Chairman of the 69th JASC American Executive Committee, reflects on how JASC helped him see and experience new aspects of the United States, the U.S.-Japan relationship, and himself. His report focuses on Boston and San Francisco, the opening and closing sites of the 68th JASC.
I was both excited and nervous when I landed in Boston, the first site of the 68th JASC. However, my worries quickly wore off as I began meeting my fellow delegates. Although we had just met, everyone was open to sharing their personal opinions and listening to others.
One of the most memorable moments in Boston was the visit to MassChallenge, a global startup accelerator that supports social entrepreneurship. Meeting social entrepreneurs of our age not only inspired us, but also taught us to not fear rejection. These passionate individuals shared their major takeaways, one of which is to always trust yourself and keep moving forward. This is something that applies not only to social entrepreneurship but to our everyday lives.
The visit to MassChallenge also taught me the many facets of Boston. Prior to JASC, I had viewed Boston as a historical city, and was therefore surprised to learn that the city is now hub for entrepreneurship. Seeing this new aspect of Boston, I became very excited to explore other cities as a JASCer.
The final city that we visited in the 68th JASC was San Francisco. The City of San Francisco was formed in a very different way compared to the other cities we visited, such as Washington, D.C. and Boston. While the houses and buildings in Boston were older, more traditional in style and had more spaces between each other, those in San Francisco were relatively new and were all packed together. Visiting four cities, I was able to see the diversity within the U.S., not only in terms of the themes we explored but also in terms of the city planning that reflected the characteristics of each city.
On the first day, we climbed up steep slopes to visit the Residence of the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. All the walking was totally worth it, as we saw the beautiful view of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge from his Residence. I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to the San Francisco Consul General for opening his Residence to us.
The next day, JASC held a series of academic events. The Diversity Symposium on Women’s Issues and LGBTQ was particularly inspiring. We had a rare and precious opportunity to listen to the panelists’ personal stories, which were truly eye-opening for me. The last event of JASC was the Reception at Hakone Gardens. As a Japanese student studying in the U.S., I instantly felt like I was back home when I entered Hakone Gardens. We experienced traditional Japanese cultural activities such as calligraphy and putting on yukatas. Personally, I found the Nagashi-somen as especially memorable. This is a popular summer event in Japan, where somen, a kind of noodle, is sent down a bamboo tube with flowing water. You catch the flowing somen with your chopsticks and eat it. It was my first time setting up the equipment- cutting bamboo and tying them together with ropes- and I felt the genuine Japanese culture there.
Looking back, JASC was definitely an amazing experience and I am so glad that I was able to participate in it. Not only did I learn more about the U.S.-Japan relationship through the programs and hours of discussions with peers, but I made long-lasting friendships with students from both Japan and the U.S. I sincerely believe the open atmosphere of JASC, where you can share your honest feelings and opinions, allowed us to make such connections. From the beginning till the end of the program, I felt as if I had known my peers before the actual conference, and it was always comfortable being in the JASC community.To be honest, I did not imagine that I could build such relationships within three weeks. However, this was a pleasant surprise. Continuing these strong relationships that I made throughout JASC is one of the fundamental reasons that I ran for the 69th Executive Committee election.
The other takeaway from JASC is the importance of self-reflection. As I interacted with amazing peers whom I respect, I also reflected upon myself a lot, from my identity as a Japanese studying in the U.S. to what kind of a person I want to be in the future. It has been three weeks since JASC ended, and I still look back to it as one of the most meaningful summers in my life.
Thank you 68th JASC, and I am excited to come back to JASC as the 69th American Executive Committee Chair. In the midst of planning for the next conference, I am hoping that the 69th delegates will have amazing experiences in Japan!
We are excited to share reports on the 68th JASC written by the newly elected American Chair and Vice Chair of the 69th JASC!
Jon Foissotte, Vice Chair of the 69th JASC American Executive Committee, reflects on the life-changing experiences he had in JASC this summer, focusing on his two favorite sites: Washington, D.C. and Montana.
Greetings! My name is Jon Foissotte and I attended the 68th JASC as a student delegate on the American side. Since I was a child, I had always held an intense interest in Japan, which grew and deepened as I studied Japanese language and culture throughout my high school and undergraduate years. My goal in attending JASC was to be able to more firmly grasp the Japan-U.S. relationship while having the chance to get to know a wide diversity of other students from both countries with similar interests. With this year’s conference now concluded, I can say beyond all doubt that the rare opportunities and enriching experiences afforded to me by JASC surpassed even my highest expectations. During JASC, I was able to learn a great deal more about the relationship between our two countries from distinguished speakers with unique professional backgrounds, while the same time experiencing ‘Nichibei Kankei’ in its most quintessential form—on a person-to-person level with my fellow delegates. I would like to write briefly about two sites we visited this year that each figured greatly into my overall JASC experience, perhaps because of the significant regional contrast between them—Washington, D.C. and Missoula, Montana.
While in the heart of America’s capital, we were privileged to attend panels hosted by individuals in government working directly on East Asian relations. Having the chance to hear from members of the House Foreign Relations Committee as well as from diplomats at the State Department allowed us to understand how these different sections of government each approach contemporary regional issues as well as the roles they play in strengthening the U.S. relationship with countries in the region. While at the State Department, we were honored by a surprise visit from U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who took time out of her schedule to speak about Japan-U.S. relations and answer some of our questions.
During our visit to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we learned about the many opportunities for strengthening regional multilateral relationships from the members of the Economic and Security Panels. This was incredibly fascinating as the speakers included individuals from the U.S. Department of Defense and from the business and think tank communities. Hearing them speak to a number of rising issues and opportunities in the region was both edifying and inspiring. As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a forefront issue of US-Japan economic relations, we were honored to hear from Wendy Cutler who was the senior negotiator for TPP and is currently with Asia Society Policy Institute. Ms. Cutler not only provided greater insight on the agreement and the benefits of TPP, but also encouraged delegates to consider a career in government.
To many of my fellow delegates and I who are interested in future careers involved with various sectors of government, being able to engage directly with these experts throughout our time in D.C. was a truly invaluable personal and professional experience that will no doubt form the bedrock of our evolving perspectives.
Before we arrived in Montana, many of us were unsure of what to expect—out of all of the sites on our schedule, Montana was the most difficult to visualize conceptually, as almost none of us had traveled there before. Upon arrival, however, we quickly realized one reason this site had been chosen—America’s vast, natural beauty loomed before us in a way that could not be elicited from a photograph. Particularly to someone like myself, who has had rather little exposure to nature, it was precisely because of my prior unfamiliarity that I could appreciate Montana, and why our experiences—which took us through sprawling woods and over rushing rivers, with vast mountainous expanses looming all around us—were so greatly impactive. While in Montana, we were able to reflect on the darker parts of American history as well. We spent time learning about the Fort Missoula Internment Camp, one location where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the Second World War, while visiting the site’s historical museum. Additionally, we had the opportunity to visit the Flathead Reservation and learn about the culture and history of the Native American tribes living there.We were even privileged enough to introduce ourselves directly to members of the governing council. Finally, we spent our last day in Montana hiking in Glacier National Park, immersing ourselves one last time in the area’s natural beauty.
Thanks to these and so many other experiences at JASC, I have been endowed with a much deeper perspective on the unique relationship between Japan and the U.S. as well as its continued pivotal importance in the twenty-first century. Most importantly, I have formed unbreakable bonds with my fellow delegates that will last a lifetime. For these reasons, I will always reflect back on JASC as one of the defining moments of my life. To those who continue to support JASC or have contributed in any way to help make this program what it is today, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and profound gratitude. As the American Vice Chair of next year’s conference, I will strive on your behalf and on behalf of the delegates to help make the 69th JASC a defining moment in the lives of others.
Please look forward to a second report on the 68th JASC by Yuta Baba, the 69th JASC American Executive Committee Chair, to be posted soon!
JASC is pleased to announce the release of the latest JASC Journal! Please view the journal by clicking here. This edition includes updates on the 68th conference to be held this summer, a story by the daughter of 1st JASC Delegate, greetings from new ISC intern, JASCer notes, volunteer opportunities, and more!
Please enjoy the Summer 2016 edition of the JASC Journal, and keep in touch!
The Winter 2016 edition of the JASC Journal is now available! Please view the journal by clicking here. This edition includes updates on the 68th JASC (EC introductions & site descriptions), greetings from new ISC staff, a report on the University of Maryland JASC Archives, JASCer notes, volunteer opportunities, and more! A special thanks to Teresa Anselmo, 68th AEC, for her dedicated contributions to this edition.
Please enjoy the Winter 2016 edition of the JASC Journal, and keep in touch!
Hello everyone! My name is Danny Jeon, and I am currently a junior studying International Studies and East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University. I have participated in the 67th Japan American Student Conference (JASC) as an American delegate during the summer of 2015, and I will be serving as the Chair of American Executive Committee (AEC) for the upcoming 68th JASC.
As I reflect upon the 67th JASC, I realized how valuable my experiences were. If it were not for JASC, I would not have had the chance to fully understand the dynamics and importance of US Japan alliance, or an opportunity to foster invaluable and everlasting friendships across the Pacific. As both Prime Minister Abe and President Obama have referred JASC as an “indispensable” bilateral exchange program, it is such an honor to serve as the AEC Chair for the 68th JASC to advance the spirit and legacy that has continued since 1934.
The year 2015 was a year of reflecting the past: it marked the 70th Anniversary of the dropping of atomic bomb at Hiroshima, as well as the end of World War II in the Pacific. With the theme, “Coming Together to Confront Past, Present, and Future,” 67th JASC led the delegates to reflect upon the past to embrace the present and future that Japan and US faces. With the year 2015 coming to an end, the members of Executive Committee and I wanted to shift the attention to discussing and shaping the rapidly changing future, a future that both US and Japan must cooperatively envision. With this in mind, we are proud to present the theme of 68th JASC, “Addressing Our Changing Future from Self and Community to the World.”
We hope that with this theme, the delegates of 68th JASC will have the chance to discover, develop, and share his or her outlooks on the future in the context of US-Japan relations. Through this interaction, we aim to create 68th JASC as an effective forum to not only as an opportunity to learn, but also as a means to formulate the concept of “self and community” that can imagine and envision a better future for our world.
Before anything else, I would like to first introduce the members of Executive Committee for the 68th JASC. First for the American Executive Committee Members: Johanna Gunawan (Northeastern University), Jason Yang (UC Berkeley), Teresa Anselmo (UC Berkeley), Yuki Naruoka (UC San Diego), Hanae Miyake (Smith College), Sabrina Ruiz (Wellesley College), and Robert Duanmu (Cornell University. On the Japanese side, we have Kei Otani (University of Tokyo), Takuya Shiraishi (Waseda University), Kara Sugimoto (Keio University), Kotaro Sawa (Okayama University), Tomoa Nozawa (Osaka University), Emi Kawashima (Tsukuba University), and Natsuka Hagiwara (Tokai University). Our dedicated Executive Committee members are working countless hours to successfully organize the Conference.
The official 68th JASC program will run from August 3rd to August 24th. The sites for this year include, Boston, Washington DC, Montana, and San Francisco. We have selected these four sites to effectively convey the holistic experience of what America is to both Japanese and American delegates. At these unique sites, the 68th Roundtable Discussion, which is a crucial academic and learning component of JASC, will be covering the following topics: The Future of Education and Cyberspace Usage, Democracy and Ideal Governance, Globalization and Economic Development, Science and the Future, Identity: Nation and Self, Cultural Shifts in the Modernizing World, and Law, Society, and our Changing Future. We believe that all of these topics are integral to not only US-Japan relations, but for the world that is experiencing rapid changes. The delegates will have the opportunity to engage enriching academic discussions through intense roundtable discussions led by each American and Japanese coordinator.
With the 68th JASC outlined, I strongly encourage all of you to apply for the 2016 JASC. We are confident that by participating in JASC, you will carry on the legacy and spirit of JASC to acquire enriching experiences, obtain unforgettable memories, and create valuable friendships that span across the Pacific.
August 22nd, our day off in Tokyo.
Finally, the delegates can have fun without having to worry about final forum sagging over their heads. Of course, the delegates had their groups mostly decided, but I grouped up with Caitlin, Reg, Yuichi, and Yuri, most of whom I have interacted with, but have had little time to get to know. We went to the Pokemon Center, the 8 story animate complex, and the various Nike Stores on a wild adventure to find floral-print Nikes (in a men’s size 12 no less) in Ikebukuro (we are kids after all), and ended in Shinjuku for some last-minute shopping. Coming back to the Olympic Center, I realized that tonight, as the last night, would be the night of reflection. We gathered and had our few hours (which I’m not allowed to write about), but I noticed how real this experience has been. Everyone put their heart and soul into JASC, with mixed results. No one could have predicted the outcomes of these last 3 weeks, but I’m glad I got the chance to spend it with the people I did.
I leave JASC proud of my personal growth, and a better understanding of myself that can only really be found through perseverance. I’ve made friends who will undoubtedly achieve amazing goals, and friends who are just now becoming comfortable sharing their ideas. Regardless of our spats or disagreements, I recognize that I was given a great gift, and mourning it’s loss, though inevitable, would deny the once-in-a-lifetime-experience it’s power. Thank you, JASC.
My name is Jacqueline Barr and I am a recent graduate from Syracuse University and a member of the Media in the 21st Century Round Table.
Today we attended an event hosted by Deputy Chief of Mission Jason Hyland at his residence in Tokyo. Hyland and aother members of the American Embassy team residing in Japan greeted us. The event was a joint reception between the JKSF (Japan-Korea Student Forum) and JASC. The JKSF conference has a similar premise to JASC, but with Korean students in lieu of Americans. It was fascinating to hear how the Korean students felt that their culture differed from Japan. It was also comforting to learn that their conference members experienced some of the same issues that I experienced in my own round table discussions and used similar clarification and translation methods to resolve these issues.
The rest of the day was focused on our final presentation which we will be presenting tomorrow. I am very proud of how far my round table come and how much we have grown together through both understanding and disagreement. I can’t wait to present tomorrow and pitch a project that is the culmination of the last three weeks of work.
I left tears on the plane to Narita airport. These were not from any strong sadness or joy I was feeling from coming back to Japan, –a likely possibility– but because I was finally able to watch Fast 7 on the way to a country that me and one of my bestfriends often call the “Motherland.” The film is not some superb cinematic feat, as it includes the typical Hollywood explosions, stunts, and expensive set pieces. However, it was the impromptu end of a saga, expedited by a car crash that killed protagonist, Paul Walker (Brian in the films).
I learned of Paul Walker’s death via a Facebook post in 2014. At that moment I was simultaneously struck by his sudden death, and the surprising amount of feelings me and many virtual others felt for a man most of us did not even know. How could a man that acted in several thematically inept films hold such a place in our heart? It was the family he made all of us feel, breaking down the wall between spectacle and reality, and the sports car culture he invited us all into. This is augmented by the fact that he died while speeding around a corner in a Porsche Carrera. It was not just a movie to me and other people, we lost a member of our family, no matter if we were actually related or not.
It was in 2 Fast 2 Furious that I felt actually invited into this family. I like to think that all of my heroes are dressed in white tees. This is in relation to the white t-shirt that Paul Walker wore in that film, the main character, Fujiwara, in the anime Initial D, and the various people that do what they love. In that film, Walker became my hero when he jumps up in the middle of the night after a race invite, hops into a Nissan Skyline R-34, and proceeds to defeat his friends while driving what is debatably the greatest Japanese sports car ever made. He had what so many of us dreamed of as the ultimate coolness, and a most powerful ode to Japanese craftsmanship.
Whenever someone asks me why I am studying Japanese, or what attracted me to the culture, it is always so difficult to explain. The aforementioned story cannot be told all the time. But what can be told is that Japan is a source of happiness for me, and is a recurring motif in so many things that I love. It is the illegal street and drift racing, the samurai of old, the postmodern anime and manga, the flashy neon lights, and the hyper society that is Tokyo. It is the unmatched fashion sense, the hip hop dancers and artists, and the myth of such a long lived dynasty and people.
The notion of what brought me to Japan and its culture is one that is constantly evolving. Rather than layering on to previous experiences, JASC is helping me to realize how I’ve come to love Japan, and the depth of that love. Just as Paul Walker and his Skyline is/was a piece of that, each person and place that I’ve encountered at JASC has factored into it. Studying Japanese is one thing, but being able to meet with Japanese and American students that honestly want to find how we confront each other and the rest of world in order to create peaceful resolutions is momentous.