June 13, 2013 

Tokyo Presentation of Report KanteiCULCON’s Higher Education Task Force establishes a goal of doubling the number of study abroad students in each country by 2020.

Washington DC, June 13, 2013 — CULCON co-chairmen Thierry Porté and Minoru Makihara today presented a report in Tokyo to Prime Minister Abe that detailed recommendations for improving intellectual exchange between Japan and the United States.  The same report was presented to Undersecretary Tara Sonenshine by CULCON panelists Deputy Assistant Secretary Susan Stevenson and Dr. Edward Lincoln.  This Report is the result of a binational Educational Task Force which, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Secretary Norman Mineta, convened to examine an alarming decrease in the number of Japanese students in the United States and to make recommendations to leaders in both nations towards an ambitious goal:  to double the number of study abroad students in each country by 2020.

“Study abroad and international exchange are crucial for nurturing the bonds between Japan and the United States,” says Secretary Norman Mineta.  “The language proficiency, communication and problem-solving skills our young people gain when they are introduced to other cultures are invaluable and prepare them well for the globalized marketplace.” 

In January 2013, CULCON members from Japan and the United States met in Hawaii to examine downward trends in bilateral student exchanges and to make recommendations concerning the data in order to increase student exchanges.  The Task Force comprised of specialists from a variety of fields and perspectives, including the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State, as well as the Japanese Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  On the U.S. side, Susan Pharr of Harvard University and Charles Lake, Chairman of Aflac Japan, played an important part in identifying issues and establishing a common goal.IMG_3022

The Report addresses country specific recommendations as well as binational cooperative actions.  The Task Force encourages for-profit and nonprofit private sector, the higher education community and the governments for both countries to take specific measures to improve English proficiency of Japanese students, for example, and a recommendation to reform the Japanese academic calendar would enable more Japanese students to study abroad and to internationalize Japanese universities.  The Report also examines ways the Japanese hiring practices could be reformed to allow more students to study abroad.  Collective actions for both countries include providing additional funding to students to compensate for the high costs of studying abroad.  In addition to recommending these institutional changes, the Task Force Report highlights both governments’ role in creating an environment that will encourage overseas exchange.

CULCON is a binational advisory panel that serves to elevate and strengthen the vital cultural and educational foundations of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and to strengthen connections between American and Japanese leadership in those fields.  It works to ensure that the best of new ideas for cultural, educational and intellectual activity and exchange are implemented as operational programs.  To find out more about CULCON’s mission and the Report of the CULCON Education Task Force, please visit http://culcon.jusfc.gov/education-task-force-2.