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Roundtables

The main academic component of the conference is the "Roundtable". Each Roundtable consists of up to four Japanese delegates and up to 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.

2021 Roundtables:

Digitalization and Human Security: Social Changes and Threat in the Information Age

In the contemporary era, we live in a world where technologically-advanced nations form our world’s infrastructure. The field of information technology has grown exponentially in a short period of time - how we interact with each other individually and diplomatically has changed with telecommunications and potential that the internet holds, alongside our own lifestyles and how we define our society overall. This also includes threats to economic power, cyber crime across national borders, and environmental and public crises internationally. Nowadays, there are more complex threats with technological development; human security and avoiding infringing on human rights issues have surmounted and have become an urgent discussion. What were once separate issues, human security and technology are closely related. Examples include illegal data sharing across social media sites or centralization of big data taken from vulnerable communities as a violation of privacy. In this roundtable, we aim to answer questions such as, “Should we transform international society with new-age AI and data technology?”, “How do IT development and human rights protections intersect?”, “How does a legal framework adapt into the environment of IT advancement?”, and “How do international institutions, national governments, and individuals, play an active role in developed technological security?”

Roundtable Leader: Christine Heaton
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.cheaton@gmail.com

Education and Identity: Explore the roots of individuality in the modern world

As Nelson Mandela once expressed, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education itself is a broad category that includes various mediums such as home-schooling, tutoring, and job-training, which can exist outside the classroom. In many societies, education is looked upon as a crucial investment that can improve one’s prospect of achieving financial stability regardless of factors like wealth and class. Behavioral scientists claim that human behavior is a result of both genetics and the environment in which one is raised, where factors like identity are often considered to be related to the environment. Though family environments usually come to mind in the discussion of behavioral development, children spend a significant amount of their time towards education. How does education as an environment influence identity development and interact with various identities? This roundtable will explore the intersection of identities such as racial identity, gender identity, national identity, and class with education. How does the type of education one receives shape their worldview? How is public school curricula used to develop national identity and culture? Which groups are incorporated or marginalized in certain subjects such as history and health education? What are the ways in which the shift to virtual learning has impacted education? These are some of the questions this roundtable will explore as we discuss the implications for the future of education and the various spheres in which education and identity interact.

Roundtable Leader: Katsura Pennington
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.kpennington@gmail.com

Natural Disasters and Crisis Management : Responses by governments, organizations and individuals

Throughout history, natural disasters have repeatedly impacted human lives. Earthquakes, pandemics, forest fires, and hurricanes are just a few of the many things happening around the globe that affect everyday people. This year is the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake in Japan. We would like to examine solutions to natural disasters through different crisis management techniques used by the affected population to help them return to their daily lives. We will explore how these actions affect the population’s health, environment, and economy as well as how these three components could be balanced. Furthermore, we will explore how responses to natural disasters convey differences between countries and vice versa. What are corporations and organizations’ motivations when responding to natural disasters? How many resources are kept aside for use during natural disaster events within different countries? Is there any way we can prevent further natural disasters or are they too unpredictable? How do different countries handle crises? In this RT, we will facilitate discussions on various styles of crisis management actions taken by the government, NGOs, and individuals. We will then compare and contrast these actions to different leadership and communication techniques within diverse countries during times of crisis.

Roundtable Leader: Victoria Liu
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.vliu@gmail.com

Social Philosophy and Individual Decision-Making: Beliefs and moral values in religion, culture and society

One of the most influential philosophers during the Enlightenment, Rousseau, has said, “man is born free yet is everywhere in chains.” Since human relations are heavily influenced by society, we wonder to what extent unity and order of society deprive our freedom of choice. If individual benefits conflict with group benefits in social institutions such as family, education, and the state, what compels us to make a certain choice between the two? In this RT, we will explore philosophical questions on social issues and behaviors, including but not limited to individual decision-making, theories concerning ethics, and cultural criticisms. Through discussion we will explore the past and present by interpreting and critiquing classical and contemporary philosophical theories and speculating the constructed beliefs of nature, people and society. This RT group aims to compare social expectations and free will to find “reasonable” solutions from both rational and irrational perspectives in making individual decisions. These can be further applied to current real world issues. Potential topics include reason and faith, skepticism and certainty, social movements and culture identity, impact of religion on individuals, and the compatibility of free will and personal beliefs. We will examine religion and war, contemporary moral dilemmas, and how our beliefs promote or obstruct past and current social movements.

Roundtable Leader: Anna Li
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.ali@gmail.com

Science and Ethics: Understanding Decisions, Research, and Development

Godzilla, Jurassic Park. Paprika, Black Mirror. Psycho-Pass, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Throughout the world people question the capabilities of our science and technological research and development. As Physicist, Nobel Prize winner, and Manhattan Project collaborator Richard Feynman explains, “scientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or bad - but it does not carry instructions on how to use it.” While science may have brought us to where we are today, we still imagine the world’s future and how certain technologies, in the wrong hands, can go awry. In our post-World War II society, weapons and surveillance guide our militaries’ decisions with little influence from the scientists who design it. We, as citizens not directly in the decision-making process, may pose a few questions: Is our country doing the right thing? What else are we capable of doing? How much can “science” influence international relations? This roundtable seeks to examine science from various perspectives: science researchers’, engineers’, and outsiders’ in order to understand how the conclusions we choose to follow or ignore affect society today. Overall, this roundtable will discuss the questions raised by recent years of research and decision-making and apply it to the United States, Japan, and global relation

Roundtable Leader: Maddie Moon
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.mmoon@gmail.com

Social Justice and Media: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Activism has made headlines across the U.S. and the globe, but with different intentions and interpretations. For example, several news outlets counter Black Lives Matter movements and racial discrimination with complaints about protesting, and questioning the existence of racism. On the other hand, feminist movements have evolved to standing up for women in the workforce, as well as fighting for equal respect in society around the world. Is the media increasingly covering topics focused on marginalized groups, and how could audience members perceive this information? Overall, citizens of both countries mostly rely on the media to update them with information about what is happening in the world, including these movements. This roundtable aims to discuss the depiction of minorities on many platforms and how it relates to discrimination, and will discuss several questions: “Where do these social movements come from, and how are they portrayed in the media?”, “How are minorities portrayed in the media in Japan and the United States? How about LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, and women?”, and “How does the media affect social movements, as well as how individuals and society view and interpret diversity?” This roundtable will explore the complexities of media and its influence on society as well as how different types of groups are portrayed in the media.

Roundtable Leader: Faby Alvarez
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.falvarez@gmail.com

US-Japan Presence in Global Politics: Changing World Order in the 21st Century

Japan and the United States are among the world's leading economic powers, and have contributed to the establishment of today's world order. However, there has been a shift in the post-Cold War world order as some countries such as Russia and China form coalitions (such as BRICS and ASEAN+1) that counterbalance Pax Americana. For instance, democratic liberalism was regarded as the pragmatic form of governance since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 20th century; however, as such coalitions gained economic/political power, some countries began to doubt on democratic liberalism as the only feasible option. This shift in global politics has challenged the US power, impacting the power and influence of its close allies such as Japan as well. How should the US and Japan interact with these increasingly powerful countries while maintaining their global presence? More so, can the U.S. and Japan continue its bilateral relations or are there possible threats that could break the ties? In this RT we will discuss the influences that the US and Japan have on global politics by focusing on various topics such as national security in East Asia, soft power of economic assistance to developing nations, and interaction with international organizations such as the UN and IMF. Based on these discussions, we will consider the role that Japan and the United States should play in the future.

Roundtable Leader: Kiesuke Wada
Contact Roundtable Leader: jasc73.kwada@gmail.com