About our programs

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 IV: 1994 to 2003

1994 marked the 60th Anniversary of the JASC, and that year's program included sessions with the poet Maya Angelo at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and a day of construction work at a Habitat project in south Newark, New Jersey and a return to the University of Washington where it all began in 1934. An assemblage and commemoration at New York City's Nippon Club drew alumni from Japan and the U.S., as well as corporate executives and diplomats, and featured a video-taped message to the students from then Ambassador to Japan, Tom Foley.

The 1995 JASC, held in Japan, was highlighted by an unanticipated offer from alumnus Kiichi Miyazawa (JASC 6 & 7), and Yukio Okamoto to fly to Iwo Jima for a memorial service. The daylong outing was covered closely by Japanese media. During this 47th JASC, there was an APEC Day, a Gender Day, and a Minority Day to focus on issues related to each of these topics. The JASC ENDOWMENT ENDEAVOR, under the auspices of the Ambassadors to Japan and to the U.S., was launched in 1995 to commemorate 50 years of peace between the two countries and was highlighted with alumni giving by decades. Nine years later, while it is well short of the $4 million target, which would make JASC, Inc. financially solvent, and no longer wholly dependent on annual corporate or foundation giving, it continues in perpetuity.

The 48th JASC in 1996 included a stint at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT, and a traditional western BBQ at the Pony Duke (Doris Duke Foundation Executor) ranch. Pony's son George is a 1985 JASCer. Ambassador Kunihiko and Mrs. Saito, welcomed the delegation and guests at their gracious Residence in northwest Washington. Noted editor and author James Fallows was featured in a session on U.S.-Japan Relations at American University.

In 1997, the 49th JASC convened in Japan and the itinerary, for the first time, included Okinawa, and the opportunity to address first hand the attendant military and economic issues there with the Governor. Discussions continued with Okinawan students and host families. A Tillicum Village outing hosted by the Boeing Company on the Puget Sound was a highlight for the American delegates at their Orientation prior to flying to Japan.

The memorable 50th JASC began in the dry heat of Tempe Arizona, then to mild northern Massachusetts, and concluded in the windy city of Chicago. Hosted by Arizona State University, Smith College, and DePaul University, this JASC drew scores of alumni from both the U.S. and Japan. The schedule included a visit to Gila River Reservation for briefings by native Americans and former Japanese-American internees during World War II. The Grand Canyon and Frank Lloyd Wright's famous desert home and studio were visited. Japan Consuls General from Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago participated. A JASCer, now a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, wrote a feature article about the Conference which circulated internationally, and NHK offered a 3 minute TV portrait throughout Japan August 14. Two days of events in Chicago drew JASC alums from the U.S. and a delegation of senior distinguished JASCers from Japan.

Namiji Itabashi, passed away April 14, 1998 at the age of 90. He was JASC's driving force as a student in 1934 who planned the first JASC and, thirty years later, jump started a resumption of the JASC after a ten year hiatus. During the 50th JASC Commemoration at the Chicago Cultural Center, the two Executive Committee chairs filled one eye of a large Daruma to wish success for the JASC Endowment Endeavor and another 50 years of this unique student directed Conference. JASC Board Member and benefactor Haru Reischauer also passed away in 1998.

The following year, Japan's Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi received ten JASCers at his Residence during the 51st JASC , and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Tom Foley, hosted a dinner for the entire delegation in the garden of his Residence. These were highlights during the summer of 1999, which included venues in Kyoto, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Tokyo. Homestays on Hokkaido were especially welcomed as a break from the heat. Jim Halsema JASC 7 (1940), published electronically his diary of that year's Conference, in collaboration with the University of Kansas on September 9. The website is http://www.ceas.ku.edu/publications/epp/Halsema%20Diary/jasc1.html

Chapter V: 2003 to present