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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.

2014 Roundtables:

Art and Identity

Art, the visual manifestation of culture and identity, has risen to the challenge of portraying both the messages of individuality and commonality. Whether the art form be traditional painting, photography, music, fashion, etcetera, the identity of the artist and the implications of his/her artistic choices are embodied within the piece for the world to view. Race, religion, tradition, and other cultural components combine with the personal background of the artist to create a unique, yet intimate aesthetic experience for the audience. By analyzing various forms of art, their history and the messages portrayed, this roundtable seeks to understand the role that art can play in the expression of cultural and individual identity and develop our understanding of Japanese and American cultures.

roundtable leader: Sarah Choi.

Environmental Initiatives for a Sustainable Future

In the 21st century, debate rages over how to approach environmental issues. While not all parties acknowledge the importance of environmental sustainability, it cannot be denied that weather patterns are changing, dependency on fossil fuels are leading to intense and risky extraction methods, and pollution is affecting world ecosystems and human health. While there isn’t a single best path towards sustainability, closely analyzing the key issues allows individuals and institutions to propose innovative new ways to achieve environmental sustainability. This roundtable seeks to discuss current environmental issues and propose ways to solve or lessen these problems in effort to move forward towards a sustainable future.

roundtable leader: Quyen Nguyen.

Immigration in the Modern Era

The push for immigration reform in the United States has directed the country’s political conversation in recent years. Japan, too, faces a need for improved immigration policies as its borders have decreased in physical significance but have remained symbolically important. Japan is hesitant to welcome immigrants and maintains strict laws, while the United States struggles to adapt its policies to the influx of undocumented workers. These countries, and others in similar positions must consider the effects of immigration such as the impact on the country’s economic growth, the protection of rights, and national identity. By comparing the current situations and examining the histories of immigration in the United States and Japan, this roundtable will seek to analyze the effects of immigration and discuss policy improvements that can be made to help countries accommodate and adapt to their immigrant populations.

roundtable leader: Ayaka Yoshida.

Modern Consequences of Historical Education

History is often thought as being restricted to the past, not of importance to contemporary events. However, both history and historical education have very palpable effects on the present and future. The teaching of history can play an important role in the construction of national identity and self-identity, both of which directly impact international relations. For example, the largely untaught history of Japanese internment camps during World War II in the United States has influenced the dynamics of the relationship between the two nations, and differences in historical education in China, the Koreas, and Japan have played a part in tensions in Northeast Asia. This roundtable aims to explore the role historical education plays in these contentious international issues and, more broadly, in the construction of identity.

roundtable leader: Pramodh Ganapathy.

Morality and Justice

International and domestic laws attempt to enforce justice by establishing an agreed upon set of ethics for individual action. However, these laws are often imperfect in both implementation and adherence to moral standards. For instance, does the U.S. government’s implementation of affirmative action truly achieve the goal of creating a more just and unbiased society? On an international scale, issues of justice and morality become even more complex. For example, how do governments attempt to address the matter of maintaining American military presence in Japan without crossing the ethical boundaries of military occupation? In this roundtable, delegates will analyze the moral quandaries exposed by the practice of domestic and international law in hopes of conceiving a more just society while preserving an effective legal system.

roundtable leader: Ken Panis.

Smart Power in US-Japan Relations

Smart power is a strategy that emphasizes the combination of a strong military (hard power) and a continual commitment to alliances, partnerships, and institutions (soft power) in order to increase a country’s legitimacy and influence in the international community. The manifestation of this approach is evident in U.S.-Japan relations. Current issues such as security threats, territorial disputes, economic competitions, and leadership changes in East Asia require effective deployment of smart power strategies. By examining the balance of hard and soft powers as pertaining to these issues, this roundtable seeks to explore smart power strategies in the context of U.S.-Japan and international relations.

roundtable leader: Norihito Naka.

Technological Advancements and Society

The rapid development of technologies has brought convenience and efficiency while also introducing new problems. For instance, while services such as online banking and social networking have greatly reduced the barriers of time and distance, cyber crimes and privacy issues have emerged as new challenges. As for scientific advancements, genetic engineering has modernized agriculture and medicine, but it has also necessitated new regulations and compliance for hampering the evolution of Bt-resistant insects and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Moreover, the potential application of genetic engineering to humans raises a vast, new set of ethical concerns. This roundtable will examine these and other concerns, issues, and challenges and consider how society should proceed with the creation and usage of technologies.

roundtable leader: Sharon Lu.