June 26, 2012 

This morning, CULCON hosted a second summit of Japan-related organizations at the U.S. Capitol.  More than 20 individuals from 13 organizations discussed the importance of people-to-people exchanges with Ms. Jennifer Stout, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who was the keynote speaker.

The conversation focused on outcomes and recommendations from CULCON’s 25th joint plenary meeting that took place April 2012.   In addition to information sharing about the importance of the bilateral relationship and efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges, today’s round-table covered three major issues: 1) efforts underway to examine causes and solutions for the striking decrease in Japanese students studying abroad in the U.S.; 2) how to engage the academic and business communities in making a cultural shift to promote and value study abroad experiences; and 3) ways to improve the quality of English language instruction in Japan.   The dynamic discussion among participants and representatives of the U.S. Department of State generated several new ideas and suggestions about how to motivate and engage Japanese youth; promote professional exchanges; and better communicate opportunities for exchange.

The organizational representatives also shared new initiatives their organizations are currently involved in that may help to advance CULCON’s mission.  These included the East-West Center’s new Japan Studies Fellowship for scholars and analysts, and the TOMODACHI Initiative’s efforts to send young people in Japan, especially from the Tohoku area, to the U.S. for short-term educational exchanges. The group affirmed a shared interest in the priorities CULCON outlined and agreed to continue to share information about each other’s work and further explore the feasibility  of putting their ideas into action.