The U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON) is a binational advisory panel that works to strengthen the cultural and educational foundations of the U.S.-Japan relationship. CULCON’s Next Generation Task Force assesses the state of U.S.-Japan exchanges for the next generation to ensure opportunities for the future leaders in U.S.-Japan relations. Dr. Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and member of CULCON’s Next Generation Task Force, presented the Task Force’s recommendations for supporting the next generation of U.S.-Japan exchange at a policy lunch at Sasakawa USA on July 19, 2018. Ambassador James Zumwalt moderated the discussion.
In order to develop the community of those interested in U.S.-Japan relations, the Task Force focused their recommendations on three areas. The first, human resource development, encourages citizens of the United States and Japan to engage with their colleagues in the other country to produce a broad set of partnerships, spanning areas such as space, science and technology, and energy conservation.
The second area looks at Japan studies in the United States and American studies in Japan. The Task Force aims to have Japan’s experiences in various fields highlighted across academic departments in U.S. universities, providing access points for Japan studies to students studying diverse topics. The Task Force also plans to engage educators and to address the decrease in Japanese students studying abroad in the United States.
The third area of focus aims to energize existing networks and to provide new platforms for engagement between the United States and Japan. To do this, the Task Force has embarked on two web-based initiatives. The first will be a website that aggregates academic and professional opportunities related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations to provide information on next professional steps for those in the field. The goal is for the website to ultimately include opportunities in the U.S. and in Japan, and to have bilingual functionality. The second initiative involves partnering with a website that shares best public policy practices from around the world to create space for U.S.-Japan cooperation in public policy online.
Following Dr. Smith’s presentation, participants suggested areas of potential U.S.-Japan collaboration such as entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment, and dove into a discussion on the economic, social, and logistic barriers for Japanese students who want to study in the United States short- or long-term. While these challenges to promoting exchange do not have a distinct cause or solution, participants agreed that it is important to remedy this trend moving forward.