February 3, 2014 

CULCON and Japan-America Society of Hawai’i collaborated on a unique public symposium last month to highlight the importance of public diplomacy.

Mr. Harry Hill, Chair of the U.S. CULCON Panel addresses the gathered guests on the importance of educational interchange at the Public Forum, East-West Center.

Mr. Harry Hill, Chair of the U.S. CULCON Panel addresses the gathered guests on the importance of educational interchange at the Public Forum, East-West Center.

The Public Symposium  was conceived to take advantage of the CULCON Educational Task Force (ETF) Meeting, held this year in Honolulu.  Attending the ETF meeting were nearly 30 U.S. and Japan experts on education to discuss its annual report, looking for solutions to address the declining interest of Japanese studying in the U.S. and the low U.S. student numbers studying in Japan. At the evening event, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State, Honorable Susan Stevenson led off the symposium by stating how the U.S. government stresses the importance of promoting international exchanges, including educational ones. Following Ms. Stevenson’s remarks, Mr. Masato Otaka, Minister for Public Affairs, Embassy of Japan in the United States listed the recent problematical trend of decreasing numbers of Japanese

studying in the U.S. and what this meant to Japan’s future economic viability and security. Mr. Otaka added that the Abe Administration through the Ministry of Education has set goals to double the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. by 2020. The last presentation was by Mr. Mark Davidson who covered all aspects of the importance of cultural and educational interchange. Notably, Mr. Davidson listed a number of programs JASH has or is conducting to support cultural and educational interchange, focusing on the successful Rainbow for Japan Kids program that brought Japanese children from the disaster region of Japan to Hawaii for rest, recuperation, and physical/psychological relief, awarding of exchange scholarships through the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, and recently assisting three locations in Japan (Nagaoka City, Ehime Prefecture, Shizuoka City) to apply for “Friendship Blossom” dogwood tree planting, a gift from the U.S. to Japan to mark the 100 year anniversary of the gifting of cherry trees to the United States in 1912.     For more pictures of this event, please visit the Japan America Society of Hawaii facebook page.