The 68th Japan-America Student Conference

Over the summer, Danny Jeon (International Studies/East Asian Studies, ’17; SAIS BA/MA) successfully organized and hosted the 68th Japan-America Student Conference as American Student Executive Chair. He writes:

“The Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) is the oldest student-led bilateral exchange between the two countries. In 1934 JASC was initiated by university students concerned by the breakdown of bilateral relations prior to the Second World War.

Today, an equal number of students from the U.S. and Japan are competitively selected each year to spend one month together, studying and analyzing Japan-U.S. relations while visiting four diverse regions in the host country. JASC alternates its host country every year, emphasizing the personal connections between two distinct cultures gathered together in one place. Notable alumni of JASC include Henry Kissinger, previous Japanese prime ministers, Vice President of Delta Airlines Japan, founder of Oracle’s Japan office, and more.

This year, the Conference was held in the United States going around 4 sites: Boston, Washington DC, Missoula, Montana, and San Francisco. There were a total of 70 student participants with American delegations from various universities like Swarthmore College, UC Berkeley, and Cornell University. Similar to the American delegation, Japanese side had student participants from universities like University of Tokyo, Waseda University, and Doshisha University. One of the highlights of JASC is roundtable discussion. Throughout the three-week long conference, delegates get involved in engaging roundtable discussion on the topic of US-Japan relations in various fields ranging from security cooperation to nationalism.

In addition to roundtable discussions, JASC organizes academic panels and site visits for the student delegates. This year, JASC has visited a global non-profit startup accelerator MassChallenge, and hosted panel on urban planning and recovery in Boston. In Washington D.C., the JASC delegates were kindly hosted by the Department of State for a special panel on US-Japan relations led by Ambassador Kennedy and Ambassador Sung Kim. Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in special panels on US-Japan relations at Congress and Chamber of Commerce, and visited the Homewood campus for a special panel on race, citizenship, and identity with presentations from Hopkins professors Dr. Erin Aeran Chung on Korean minorities in Japan and Dr. Kenneth Moss on Jewish American experience. In Missoula, Montana, delegates visited Glacier National Park and Flathead Native American Reservation. Lastly, the 68th JASC concluded in San Francisco, and delegates had an opportunity to partake in a special panel on women in workforce and diversity co-sponsored by Tomodachii Initiative. The 68th JASC was kindly hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs with receptions in both Washington DC and San Francisco.

Every panel, events, logistics, and topics of JASC is organized by 16 student leaders from both the US and Japan. At the end of each JASC, 16 delegates are elected to host and organize the next year’s JASC. Danny Jeon, who was a 67th JASC delegate, was elected as the Student Chair of American team to plan and organize the 68th Conference that ended this August.

Next year’s 69th JASC will be held in Japan, and the applications for the 69th JASC will be open sometime in late November. For more information, please visit the JASC webpage: http://iscdc.org/jasc/2016/