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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.

2015 Roundtables:

Religion as a Means, Religion as Meaning

A world without religion is impossible to imagine. Religion informs our personal lives as well as global affairs. In Japan, Shinto and Buddhist ideas subtly affect everyday habits. In the US, religious ideals are integrated into the political system despite the separation of church and state. On the global scale, values are moved alongside resources in international transactions. For example, evangelism was one motive for 19th century imperialism. Missionaries continue to travel to developing countries to “spread the word” today. Economic interactions such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also have potential for unintentionally transferring religious values. Religion has the potential to induce both good and evil; if used appropriately, it may bring fulfillment to individuals and harmony to societies. This roundtable seeks to explore religion’s effects on the world in the past and present, and consider how it should be handled in the future.

roundtable leader: Sakura Takahashi.

Security and Non-Traditional Threats

Globalization has significantly changed the way we live our lives today. Technological advancements have enabled a rapid exchange of people, commodities, and ideas. As borders have begun to blend, security issues around the world have become globalized and diversified. In addition to the traditional concept of national security provided by military, new forms of security such as human security, energy security, food security and cyber security have attracted attention. How could one individual, community, or nation enjoy security in this increasingly complex and connected world? Seventy years after the end of the World War II, how can the United States and Japan work together to realize and maintain “peace”, despite newly emerging threats? This roundtable attempts to understand and confront issues surrounding the US-Japan relationship in the globalized world by examining security from various perspectives.

roundtable leader: Takeshi Hidaka.

Society and Inequality

Even in today’s modern society, inequalities exist both on an international and domestic level. While globalization has further interconnected countries economically and provided opportunities for many, some countries systematically reap more rewards than others. Even within the most economically developed countries, inequality between the rich and the poor is significant and social mobility has become harder to achieve. Beyond financial equity, intersectionality shows us that inequality also stems from racial, gender, and sexual oppression. Women in both Japan and U.S. are still underrepresented in positions of power and certain industries. All over the world the LGBTQ community continues to fight for legal rights and social acceptance. The notion of a post-racial US seems implausible in light of the racially charged domestic crimes that continue to this day, while hate speech against racial minorities in Japan is persistent. This roundtable will discuss the meaning of “equality”, explore the various power structures that maintain inequality, and discover methods to empower individuals.

roundtable leader: Ken Covey.

Media in the 21st Century

Media in the 21st century is a heavy double edged sword; the same websites that facilitate mass awareness and support for charities and social causes can also spread fear and terror. This influence of media has only expanded and deepened since the start of the information technology age. The creation of the internet, and more recently broadband connectivity, has allowed media to reach a wide audience of global consumers. Individuals are now able to identify with multiple cultures because they have the ability to access information from around the world. Despite the positive impacts of media with a greater world connection, negative aspects also exist, such as the increasing politicization of reporting and the profit-driven nature of media outlets. With these topics in mind, this roundtable will examine and discuss the various aspects of media in order to discover how it has and will continue to impact the societies within Japan and the United States.

roundtable leader: Isaac Min.

Educational Approaches Today and Tomorrow

Educational approaches are shaped by the needs of society and differ depending on time and place. With significant social changes such as rapid globalization and the spread of internet connectivity, educational approaches have also changed and will continue to evolve in the future. For example, although online courses have made course contents available to a wider audience across the globe, they lack face-to-face interaction and collaboration. The advancement of technology and computers has diminished the importance of rote memorization, shifting the importance of education away from specific facts. Furthermore, while studying abroad has become a trend and schools are becoming more internationalized, many students struggle upon returning to their home country to readjust to society and culture. In this roundtable, students from different educational backgrounds will discuss and contemplate the educational approaches in the 21st century, and extend their discussions to consider the true value of education for students that will shape the future world.

roundtable leader: Lisa Kanai.

Global Eco-hazard and Resource Sustainability

Due to the increasing mass consumption of natural materials such as oil, coal, and natural gas, pollution threatens the stability of the global ecosystem. While the advancement of technology has alleviated some of our dependency on natural resources, consumers and manufacturers still frequently pollute the environment. For example, using hand-dryers instead of paper towels reduces waste but the electricity powering the dryers often comes from burning coal which still contributes to atmospheric pollution. Major pollution often bleeds past national borders, becoming a global phenomenon and threat. It is up to the global population to provide and sustain a healthy environment for all forms of life in the ecosystem by pioneering a new system of living and conserving for the future. Global Eco-hazard and Resource Sustainability will focus on the dramatic consumption of materials that present a risk to the earth and its inhabitants.

roundtable leader: Harrison Bade.

Power and Responsibility in the Business World

Society constantly reminds us that money matters. Money can improve standards of living, provide material wealth, and lead to the power to control others. But money is not everything nor can it fix everything. Multinational companies today are the subject of close online inspection and criticism. To satisfy the demands of interconnected dynamic consumer markets, companies must uphold strong social corporate responsibilities and maintain a healthy work culture. Lately, entrepreneurs and other innovative companies have become disrupters for complacent industries by pushing for more transparent services and humanist ethics. However, critics are concerned with how much influence corporations can have over social justice issues. What kind of initiatives should business leaders take in order to address social issues? What does it mean to be a successful and responsible leader today? This roundtable will grapple with the meaning of US-Japanese leadership and global social responsibility.

roundtable leader: Takuo Koyama.