60th Japan-America Student Conference
By Joshua Evan Schlachet
2008 marked the historic 60th gathering of the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC), a unique program dedicated to promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two countries. The JASC, founded in 1934 by university students, remains student-run even today. Its tradition of student leadership is reflected in its alumni, including Henry Kissinger and former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. This year the JASC took place in four locations: Reed College, UCLA, the University of Montana, and Harvard University. Along the way, delegates from each country had the opportunity to participate in round table discussions, academic lectures, and forums, and interact with a diverse group of dedicated and motivated students.
This summer, we were proud to share our kanreki celebration with UCLA’s Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies. During our week on UCLA’s campus, our delegates explored the cultural and academic offerings of Southern California while engaging with the local community. Using the rich film and television presence in Los Angeles, the 60th JASC examined cross-cultural representations in film and media through presentations on the challenges of media direction in an international context and issues of genre and image in film. UCLA Professor Mariko Tamanoi delivered the keynote lecture at another event held at UCLA and raised questions of political participation in Japan and America. The JASC delegation also hosted a public forum on minority issues at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, which featured prominent scholars including UCLA Professor Victor Bascara of the Asian American Studies Center. Our delegates took advantage of our time at UCLA to continue our round table discussions, an academic cornerstone of the JASC program, to cover a diverse range of issues including scientific ethics, tradition and modernity, environmental communication, comparative law and society, and corporate social responsibility. Concluding our memorable stay, we were warmly received by The Honorable Junichi Ihara, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles. The festivities included a toast delivered by Terasaki Center Director Michael Thies.
On behalf of the executive committee and the JASC delegates, I would like to extend our deepest thanks to the Terasaki Center for its generous support of our program and its dedication to our shared goal of constantly exploring and redefining the Japan-America relationship. For more information on JASC, please visit our website at http://www.iscdc.org.