The main academic component of the conference is the "Roundtable". Each Roundtable consists of four Japanese delegates and four American delegates, and is led by one to two Executive Committee Roundtable Coordinators. Delegates are a part of a Roundtable the entire conference that focuses on a specific topic within the context of U.S.-Japan relations.
Environment and Technology: Ecological and Technical Solutions for a Sustainable Society
In modern society, it has become evident that humans and technology have direct effects on the environment around us. Therefore, it is critical that humans reflect on innovative responses to issues such as natural disasters, pollution, climate change, and overpopulation, which have become the focus of many business, social, and political entities.
How can we use technology to prepare for and prevent environmental crises? How can we manage resources ethically while balancing the costs and benefits of potential solutions? How can we hold businesses, politicians, and societies accountable for environmental change without placing undue burdens on certain communities and cultural groups? While Japan and the United States’ attitudes towards natural resources and environmental policies differ, both nations are capable of preserving their precious ecological resources through various means. This roundtable aims to discuss the influence of humans and technology on our natural environment, as well as effective methods for establishing a sustainable society from an ecological standpoint.
Health and Exercise: Modern Fitness Trends and Their Effect on Physical and Mental Health
In recent years, much of the western world has become plagued by an epidemic of obesity and over-consumption. As a result, our societies have become obsessed with health and fitness trends such as fitness trackers, the keto diet, and other fads associated with being active and eating a more balanced diet. Although some of these new trends are not beneficial and sometimes even dangerous, they are reshaping how we view fitness and its relation to our general well-being.
This roundtable seeks to explore how fitness can impact our mental and physical health. Additionally, we will be exploring how overexertion of the body in sports or as a product of exercise addiction can have negative effects on the human mind and body. Furthermore, we will be examining how sports competitions and the Olympics can have profound impacts on health trends and the stigma surrounding sports-related injuries.
Culture, Media and Soft Power: Examining U.S.- Japan Relations Through the Lens of Cultural Exchange
The United States and Japan have a storied history of cultural exchange from anime, manga, video games and music and through these mediums (and many more) the two countries have repeatedly come to understand and learn about each other. Despite this, in both countries, demographics are beginning to shift and the priorities that dictated the landscape of these cultural pathways in the past are evolving quickly. In the past, United States policy was focused on expanding the power of U.S. culture abroad as a method of expanding global influence but in recent years, hard power has been a higher priority for the United States and it’s increasingly isolationist policies.
This roundtable seeks to evaluate the U.S.- Japan relationship and how it continues to be shaped by media representation, the evolution of both cultures and the ways in which the two nations exchange ideas and values through non military means. How can soft power work in tandem with hard power to create effective methods of national security for both the U.S. and Japan? How do issues of media representation affect both countries and what effects do they have on the mutual exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to the sharing of cultural pieces?
Responsible Approaches to Population Issues: Evolving Technology, Law, and Ethics
What will the world’s population look like in 50 years? What will that population’s lives look like? Nations today face various population issues, ranging from overpopulation to infant mortality. For example, in Japan, the aging population presents a current and continuing threat to the wellbeing of the nation. The government is faced with the challenge of growing its labor force to support the increasing proportion of retired senior citizens. For this nation, many have suggested the role of artificial intelligence (AI) to act as a temporary crutch, or even as a long-term solution. But in the United States, the integration of AI plays a different role, and many are not thrilled at the prospect of an automated lifestyle. Critics are concerned about robots’ ability to replace the current labor force, leaving many without a means of survival. Although AI is a hot topic, new policies and institutions created by governments and drastic modifications to societal structures, are other routes through which societies can approach their respective population issues responsibly.
This roundtable hopes to examine the way in which governments can work to maximize the benefits of tools including, but not limited to AI, in an attempt to address their nation’s pressing population issues. These large-scale changes will have wide-ranging implications for each society; how will laws be able to keep pace with this change, while also encouraging progress? Additionally, how will the society continuously reshape its ethics in a dynamic world?
U.S.-Japan Relations in the Context of East Asia: Change and Continuity in the 21st Century
Since the end of WWII, U.S.-Japan relations have played a fundamental role in promoting prosperity, stability, and security in East Asia. But East Asia has undergone rapid changes in the political, economic, security, and social spheres recently. For instance, China has become the region’s biggest economy and is pursuing ambitious regional goals such as the Belt and Road Initiative and increasing its presence in the South China Sea. North Korea’s missile and nuclear capabilities have developed so much that the U.S. finally began direct bilateral talks. U.S. and Japan have reacted to the changes in East Asia in their own ways, including but not limited to the U.S.-China trade war, TPP, and questions of reinterpreting Article 9 in Japan.
With developments like these in mind, how important are U.S.-Japan relations in the region now, and what will be our generation’s role in ensuring prosperity, stability, and security in the future? What interests -- e.g. political, economic, and social -- would the U.S. and Japan pursue in the region? This roundtable seeks to understand U.S.-Japan relations in the context of the greater East Asia region and looks for diverse perspectives not just limited to politics.
Diversity: Dissecting Human Rights Concerns within A Diversified Society
Diversity in a society is an integral part of our modern world. Diversity encompasses, but is not limited to, the complex perspectives, identities and points of view among individuals in our wider global community. This diversity extends not only to racial and ethnic differences, but reaches to contrasting economic classes, religions, lifestyles, political leanings, and beyond. Due to globalization, growing technological advances, and mass immigration from areas of crises, modern society has become more and more diverse. The rapid rate at which our individual societies are evolving, combined with the lack of systemic support and empathy to accommodate these changes, numerous human right issues have occurred, such as racial violence, hate speech, and so on.
This roundtable aims to academically and emphatically dissect the current situations and elements of diversity in global communities. Within these discussions, this roundtable will search to define diversity in the modern sense, explore the effects of introducing a new culture to a previously homogenous society, brainstorm solutions to tackling prejudice, better understand the social clash from the integration of new perspectives, dive into the idea of subcultures, and compare the response to diversification within the nations of the United States and Japan. The primary objective of this roundtable is to facilitate and unite the protection of human rights within the role of diversity in our increasingly changing world.
Nationalism and Globalism: Shifting Paradigm in the Modern Era
How would people in the 22nd century describe the current era? How can today’s world be best characterized politically and socially? We have seen the current of globalization in both Japan and the United States. Numerous Japanese and American corporations have expanded their operations around the world, and flow of goods and people has become more fluid and transboundary. The challenges traditionally taken on by nation-states, such as environmental protection and immigration, increasingly require international dialogue and cooperation. From this global perspective, it seems that the role of states is diminishing as the world economy becomes increasingly globalized and liberalist views become more prominent. In contrast, there has been a surge of right-wing nationalism in both countries and around the world. White nationalists in the United States demand stricter immigration policy to protect their vision of America. President Trump, often described as a populist, won the 2016 Presidential Election with his slogan “Make America Great Again,” claiming that other countries were undermining America’s economic and political interests. For Japan, the Abe administration is causing controversy as it seeks to revise the Japanese Constitution, especially the war-renouncing Article 9. Japanese right-wing nationalists strive to spread their own interpretation of Japanese WWII narratives and post hate speech on social media, targeting groups such as Zainichi Koreans, whom they consider outside of the Japanese cultural sphere.
This seemingly paradoxical situation generates questions; If the trend of globalism continues, does nationalism diminish or backfire? Is it even possible for globalism and nationalism to co-exist? Comparing the social and political phenomena of globalism and nationalism in the context of Japanese and American societies, this Roundtable explores the current paradigm in the modern era and seeks to understand where our society is heading. Through various discussions and activities, we will aim to become more informed, conscious, and active global citizens in today’s world.