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The Japan-America Student Conference (JASC):
Celebrating Seventy Years

Chapter I: 1934 to 1940: The Early Conferences
Chapter II: 1947 to 1954: A Post-War Recovery
Chapter III: 1964 to 1993: The JASC Tradition Revived
Chapter IV: 1994 to 2003: Technology & Innovation
Chapter V: 2003 to present: The Millennium JASC


Chapter II: 1947 to 1954

In the devastation and confusion of the ending of the Pacific War and the American Occupation of Japan in the fall of 1945, there was little thought of the Conference. Japanese were preoccupied with surviving the aftermath of war and were not allowed to travel abroad. The American Occupation headquarters understandably did not welcome "non-essential" Americans visiting Japan in 1945 and in early 1946.

In late 1946, however, a boom in English-language study resulted in the re-discovery of JASC by a group of Japanese university students who were members of English Speaking Societies at Tokyo universities. Learning of the Pre-War Conferences, these students were determined to revive JASC in whatever form possible. One of these students was Mr. Cecil Uyehara, then a student at Keio University who was later to become a U.S. citizen and President of JASC, Inc. from 1984-1988. A small number of Americans were in Japan at this time: families of Red Cross and military personnel, as well as missionaries residing in Japan. Many GI's of college age were interested in pursuing university-level schooling while in Japan. By 1947, the University of Maryland had established a Tokyo campus where young Americans could enroll for college credit. Enrollment, both of military and civilian personnel, was expanding.

The Japanese student group hoped to draw an American delegation from this reservoir of young Americans. Working with great perseverance, they obtained Occupation permission to hold a Conference, organized its program and recruited delegates. U. Alexis Johnson (deceased), former Ambassador to Japan and JASC, Inc. Board Member, often told the story of students landing at his desk in Yokohama where he was Consul General earnestly pleading that they should be allowed to start the student dialogue again between the two countries. He agreed and assisted the students with renewing the JASC in post-war Japan. The Conference (numbered as the 8th in the Japan-America Student Conference series) was sponsored by the Japan Student English Association and was held from November 28-30, 1947 at Meiji University in Tokyo with 78 Japanese and 48 American delegates in attendance.

Subsequently, all Conference sessions from 1947 through 1953 (14th JASC) were held in Japan with Americans participants drawn from within Japan. The primary obstacle that the students faced was raising the necessary funds. Fortuitously, Imperial family member Prince Takamatsu, younger brother of the Showa Emperor, endorsed the Conference by becoming Honorary Advisor to the students in 1947. Coming only two years after the end of the war, the Prince's support of the Conference was invaluable in establishing the reputation of the Conference within Japan. A few years later, American Ambassador to Japan, Robert Murphy, also joined as an Honorary Advisor. Although Conferences during the recovery period after the war had a limited number of table seminars and no travel segment, the Conference table organization and discussion format remained unchanged. The 1951 JASC included an American delegate named Henry Kissinger, a future Secretary of State.

In 1953 one student from Cornell University, in Japan during the summer, participated in the 14th Conference. Upon learning of the history of JASC, the Cornell student, Gordon Lankton, invited the Conference to hold its 15th JASC at his campus in 1954. Japanese students readily accepted the invitation, but few of them could afford the air fare. The U.S. military came to the rescue, offering fifteen free seats on a military transport plane. Fourteen students and a supervisor attended. Perhaps because of the dissatisfaction with this limited participation on the Japanese side, the apparent lack of any continuing student support organization, and the dearth of financial support in the U.S., the Conference was not held from 1955 through 1963.

Chapter III: 1964 to 1993