On March 23, 2017, Sasakawa USA held its Second Annual Alumni Dinner featuring a special panel discussion on “The Future Role of Think Tanks and Implications for U.S.-Japan Relations.” The private reception was an annual celebration of Sasakawa USA’s Japan Alumni Program, which is offered exclusively to those who visited Japan under programs organized or sponsored by Sasakawa USA and its sister organizations, as well as to friends and partners in the U.S.-Japan community who have collaborated with the foundation on other projects and events. It was an opportunity for alumni to re-connect with Japan and other alumni who have traveled or worked together, and to re-engage on current issues in U.S.-Japan relations.
Ambassador James Zumwalt, CEO of Sasakawa USA, gave opening remarks on Sasakawa USA’s alumni program and upcoming events. He then introduced the panel, handing the mic off to moderator Joshua W. Walker, CEO and President of the USA Pavilion of the 2017 World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan; and panelists Sharon Burke, Senior Advisor, New America; Richard Fontaine, President, Center for a New American Security (CNAS); and Vikram Singh, Vice President for National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress (CAP).
In an off-the-record setting, the panel discussed the goals and approaches of their think tanks and how the transition and current administration has impacted their work. While the changes can be daunting, panelists agreed that challenges are also empowering as they offer greater opportunities for think tanks to take charge in their respective fields. An audience Q&A session followed the panel, where Sasakawa alumni further engaged the panelists about how they intend to impact society and emphasize the importance of these organizations to the public across the United States.
About 50 alumni attended the dinner event, enjoying the networking opportunities and the special panel discussion, and a raffle to thank the alumni and celebrate the reunion. Sasakawa USA is looking forward to hosting the Third Annual Alumni Dinner in the coming year.