The main academic component of the conference is the "Roundtable". Each Roundtable consists of four Japanese delegates and four American delegates, and is lead by a Japanese Roundtable coordinator and an American Roundtable coordinator. Delegates are a part of a Roundtable the entire conference that focuses on a specific topic within the context of U.S.-Japan relations.
Cultural Shifts in the Modernizing World
Culture and people’s lifestyles are witnessing rapid changes due to trends in globalization that encompass both technological and social transformations. While numerous developments in the fields of technology, infrastructure, alongside other modernizing forces have made our lives more efficient and convenient, there are drawbacks and consequences that we cannot take lightly. Convenient innovations such as cars, elevators, and Uber subtly zone out exercise and outdoor play cultures. With the rise of innovations in communication and the Internet, the world is experiencing unprecedented interconnectivity, but such developments can also fuel cultural stereotypes and clashes among different cultures and groups. Are modernization and innovation actually positive forces when assessing our rapidly changing cultures and lifestyles? Should such developments be moderated in order to preserve some of the traditional aspects of culture? Through collaborative discussions, this roundtable engages with these kinds of questions in the contexts of Japan, the United States, and the overarching setting of our interconnecting world.
Roundtable Leader: Robert Duanmu
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Democracy and Ideal Governance
From ancient philosophers to modern scholars, humans’ attempt to answer the question of ideal governance has not yet been successful. Although liberal democracy is considered to be the governing system that is most preferred, many are still critical of its flaws and shortcomings. Some criticisms of current liberal democracy include, political dominance by few wealthy minority, decreasing political participation, and bureaucrat-initiated politics. As leading examples of democracy, both the United States and Japan are facing similar flaws and criticism as mentioned. Furthermore, those issues regarding efficacy of democracy are also relevant matters for intergovernmental organizations. Facing these criticisms and flaws, how can we improve the current liberal democracy along with the question of ideal governance? Or is there a better alternative in our changing future? With these insights in mind, this roundtable aims to examine the current liberal democracy, and seek other ways to progress towards the ideal governance both domestically and internationally.
Roundtable Leader: Yuki Naruoka
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Developing the Future through Science
Since the beginning of the human civilization, scientific and technological discoveries have advanced our society towards the future. Penetrating into various aspect of our society, these scientific and technological advancements have led to groundbreaking impacts on the economy, environment, and society. Thanks to these advancements, our society is reaping positive progress in various areas, including meeting the global energy demand and discovering cures for diseases. However, these scientific and technological discoveries also pose some serious negative impacts. For instance, development of nuclear power became an efficient source of electricity, but it has also resulted in nuclear weapons and serious environmental concerns. Moreover, these rapid scientific discoveries are now facing some of ethical issues, from human genome modification to artificial intelligence. Facing both the positive and negative impacts of scientific advancements, this roundtable aims to assess the value and the role of science of today and tomorrow.
Roundtable Leader: Jason Yang
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The Future of Education and Cyberspace Usage
As technological progress changes the way our education is shaped, the potential for new educational approaches is expanding. Online courses, usage of tablets, and mobile applications give learning opportunities outside the classrooms, and education without cyberspace is becoming increasingly unimaginable. Despite these factors, education in cyberspace also faces various challenges. For example, easier access to overwhelming amount of information may widen the scope of our knowledge, but it comes with the risk of reducing the depth. The advancement of technology may also threaten some of the fundamental values that only a face-to-face interaction convey. Furthermore, cyberbullying on SNS is a rising issue, where cooperation between households and schools must take place in order to settle disputes. With these points in mind, this roundtable will aim to discuss some of the challenges modern day education face with emphasis on technology and cyberspace usage.
Roundtable Leader: Hanae Miyake
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Globalization and Economic Development
As our world continues to globalize, our economies become inextricably linked and are impacted by issues affecting both superpowers and developing nations. Interesting macro-developments, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, provide us with new ways to reconsider this. These multilateral decisions have immediate impact on states’ local industry, trade, and tourism. Even within a state, economic effects further trickle down to influence the rural and less developed areas. Not all of these top-level decisions achieve the positive effects of their intention. Instead, these decisions are stunting the growth of smaller nations, damaging industries, or carrying serious socioeconomic ramifications for the global poor. How do we move forward in such an intricately connected world economy? This roundtable discusses the responsibilities of the United States and Japan as developed economic powerhouses in responding to changing environments, cooperating in multinational initiatives, and providing aid to the developing world in an age of interdependence.
Roundtable Leader: Johanna Gunawan
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Identity: Self and Nation
Globalization and immigration have made constructing an identity, the conception and expression of one’s own individuality, challenging in the 21st century. Consequently, identity has emerged as a key concept in intra- and international political arenas. For example, the United States is a “melting pot,” which has its very foundations formed by the toil of immigrants. Contrastingly, Japan harbors a long tradition of racial homogeneity, but must confront a new generation of globalized citizens and “returnees.” How has the history of each nation respectively shaped its citizens’ characters? What instances of societally reinforced discrimination occur in both countries? With these questions in mind, we will not only discuss racial identity, but also other aspects of self-identity and the difficulty in constructing a sense of self as any minority. This roundtable aims to comprehend identity in a world that is multifaceted and constantly in flux, and to arm delegates with the tools to better understand themselves.
Roundtable Leader: Teresa Anselmo
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Law, Society, and our Changing Future
Since its creation, law has raised complex and important issues in regards to justice, societal order, and equality. In the current legislative system of democracy, there are instances where the interests of the majority are prioritized over the minority, leading to injustices of inequality and discrimination. From this perspective, some aspects of law have posed a level of discrimination and restriction toward minority groups and their full practice of rights. All over the world, LGBTQIA+ communities and socio-economically disadvantaged groups continue their fight for legal rights and proper enforcement of their existing rights. Moreover, the gap between the law’s intent and its proper enforcement is another crucial problem, which is apparent through police brutality, media censorship, and political lobbying. Can law and its enforcement system be improved to create a better law-based society? With such topics in mind, this roundtable aims to discuss the role and influence of law and explore possible solutions for creating a better law-based society.
Roundtable Leader: Sabrina Ruiz
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