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Trilateral Forum

Noticing the need to create a space for multilateral dialogue, International Student Conferences (ISC) launched the US-Japan-Korea Trilateral Forum in 2013 to increase cooperation and enhance communication between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Since then, the Forum has been held regularly to develop next-generation leaders who understand the role that U.S.-Japan, U.S.-Korea, Japan-Korea, and Trilateral collaboration plays in regional security. TheTrilateral Forum enhances understanding between American, Korean, and Japanese future leaders and helps our nations lay the groundwork to continue addressing shared challenges from a place of mutual understanding. Specifically, the Trilateral Forum addresses how we build and strengthen the relationships between the US, Japan, and Korea.

The Trilateral Forum is even more relevant than ever in the context of increased tensions in East Asia and the “new era of trilateral partnership” announced in the joint statement Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States released after the Camp David summit. Each country’s bilateral bonds are strong with each other, and all three countries are committed to trilateral relations in the face of challenges to the rules-based international order, tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, threats posed by North Korea, and the need for stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN regions. 

While trilateral meetings continue to be held at the government level, the Trilateral Forum provides the opportunity for the next generation of U.S.-Asia leaders to interact with their international counterparts and exchange perspectives about the ways they perceive the opportunities and challenges facing the U.S.-Japan-Korea relationship. University students, who participated in one of ISC’s Summer 2023 programs and were elected by their peers to undertake preparations for the following summer’s student-led conferences for their dedication to people-to-people diplomacy and their potential to become leaders within their own countries are the Forum’s participants. Over a six (6) day period, these next-generation leaders expand their knowledge of the US-Japan Alliance and security cooperation, regional security issues in the East Asia Pacific, US foreign policy priorities in the region, and comparative cultural and bilateral relations between the US-Japan, Japan-Korea, and US-Korea. 

The Trilateral Forum features briefings, interactive seminars, and roundtable discussions on mutual concerns. Youth leaders will also participate in programs that foster professional development, with events designed to improve participants’ public speaking skills and leadership abilities. These young specialists will leave the forum with a deeper understanding of the key issues in the multilateral relationship, the role the US plays in regional security, a comprehensive understanding of East Asia relations, improved cross-cultural communication skills, and foundations laid for the summer 2024 student-run conferences. The student leaders will undertake their own original research to present at a public forum alongside experts in Trilateral relations.

After the Forum, ISC will publish a report on the Symposium content and include perspectives on regional issues as set forth by the student leaders from their original research. ISC will share the report with decision-makers, government officials, and experts in the US, Japan, and Korea.

2024 US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Forum

The Trilateral Forum will take place from January 2-8, 2024, with up to sixteen (16) Japanese and American students representing JASC, up to eight (8) Korean and American students representing KASC, and ISC interns who will meet in person to participate in workshops with each other, ISC staff and interns, regional experts, and government officials.

2024 US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Program Highlights

January 3, Wednesday | Briefing with the U.S. Department of State Bureau for East Asian & Pacific Affairs
January 4, Thursday | Korea Cultural Center: Briefing by Counselor Changsoo Kim
January 5, Friday | Korea Economic Institute: Multinational Simulation & Korea Foundation Welcome Reception & Dinner
January 6, Saturday | Trilateral Symposium

2024 US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Symposium

The Trilateral Symposium is the culmination of the Trilateral Forum, and will be open to the public. The Trilateral Symposium provides the opportunity for students alongside U.S.-Asia experts to analyze the impact and importance of Trilateral collaboration and pose solutions to key issues in the multilateral relationship and regional security in a public forum

Panel I
What is the role that history plays in key regional security issues involving Japan, Korea, and the US?

Moderator | Kayla Orta, Senior Associate, Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Wilson Center
Panelist | Victor Cha, Senior Vice President for Asia and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS)
Panelist | Christopher B. Johnstone, Senior Adviser and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS)
Panelist | Sheila Smith, John E. Merow Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
Panelist | Frank Aum, Senior Expert on Northeast Asia at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP)

Panel II
What is the role of education in shaping student’s perspectives of trilateral issues?

JASC | 2 Executive Committee Members
KASC | 2 Executive Committee Members

Join us at the Trilateral Symposium on January 6, 9 AM – 1 PM ESTThe US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Symposium (in person in DC and Virtual)

2024 Supporters

Photos from Past Trilateral Forums