【Round Table Discussion】“President Obama’s Visit: Japan’s Youth Discusses the Future of Japan-U.S. Relations”

On April 17th from 18:30-20:00, the America-Japan Society held a round table discussion at the International House of Japan (Kokusai Bunka Kaikan). The event was organized to mark the occasion of President Obama’s scheduled visit to Japan in mid-April, and Japanese students gathered to discuss in English some of the major issues that the US-Japan relationship faces today. After each student gave their opinions about the issues of interest to them and answered questions, the commentators, drawn from the disparate fields of NGOs, diplomacy, and international business, each offered their thoughts to expand the discussion.

The evening started off with a short remark by AJS President Ichiro Fujisaki recognizing AJS Vice President Akiko Kuno for conceptualizing and making the event possible. Following Prof. Agawa’s remarks, the panelists discussed their expectations for President Obama’s visit and the future of Japan-U.S. relations based on their own experiences. They talked about the differences in mentality between Japanese and American students, compared each country’s respective education system, and also gave their opinions about the exchange programs offered in Japanese universities. Throughout the discussion, the students presented insights and observations that adults may not have been able to come up with. The commentators also gave the students advice, not only on the state of US-Japan relations, but also on how to prosper and thrive in the global economy and society.

After the discussion concluded, the participants continued to chat with audience members, providing an open and stimulating atmosphere. As a result of listening to the voices of students, all of whom will be at the forefront of the next iteration of US-Japan relations, I believe that it was a great opportunity for all of the participants to reflect on their backgrounds and think about how they each contribute to this important relationship as an individual as well as a global citizen.

■Moderator :Professor Naoyuki Agawa, Professor at Keio University, AJS Director

■Panelist :Yoshitaka Yamamoto, University of Tokyo doctoral program
Yohei Komatsuzaki, Keio University School of Law
66th Japanese student chairman for the US-Japan student conference
Hikaru Uzawa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (AJS intern)
Erika Takeda, Keio University School of Policy Management (AJS intern)

■Commentator :Ms. Minami Tsubouchi, General incorporated foundation Global Education
Support, Fund Director/Secretary General
Mr. Yasumasa Yamamoto, Google industry manager
Mr. Sasha Suderow, Foreign Diplomat at the US Embassy