Japan-United States of America Relations

1st “Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States” (TOFU) program

(Washington D.C.)

March 20, 2018
Japanese

From March 14 to 17, the participants of the 1st "Think of Okinawa's Future in the United States" (TOFU) program visited Washington D.C. and the summary is as follows.

1 Department of State

On March 15, in the afternoon, the participants visited the Department of State, guided by its staff to learn the history of the department and its current functions. During the visit, the participants made a courtesy call on Ms. Julie CHUNG, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japanese Affairs, and exchanged views for approximately an hour.

Ms. Chung said, in response to the participants mentioning that they had been grown up with a feeling that the United States is close to them, that the Department of State would make positive efforts to respond to the expectation from Okinawa's people, as Okinawa symbolizes the bond between Japan and the United States. Furthermore, Ms. Chung pointed out that deepening exchange between local peoples of Japan and the Unites States such as TOFU program is very important for the development of the Japan-U.S. relationship, and she asked the participants to tell their own experiences in the U.S. to people in Okinawa. In response to that, the participants expressed their will to learn as much as possible during this program and bring fruitful achievements back to Okinawa.

2 Department of Defense

On March 15, in the afternoon, the participants of the 1st TOFU program visited the Department of Defense, and made a courtesy call on Mr. Andrew WINTERNITZ, Acting Principal Director for East Asia, and exchanged views for approximately 45 minutes.

Mr. Winternitz pointed out that Okinawa is strategically critical to the Japan - U.S. alliance's ability to safeguard peace and security in East Asia.  He expressed his deep gratitude to the people of Okinawa for being gracious hosts to U.S. forces for many years, and also expressed a desire to achieve greater cooperation and deeper understanding between the U.S. government and the local Okinawan people. Additionally, Mr. Winternitz stated that the Japan - U.S. alliance can be successful in its mission on Okinawa only with the support of the Okinawan people.  He acknowledged the responsibility of U.S. forces to be good neighbors and work closely with the local residents to address their various concerns. He also hoped that the participants can deepen their perspective on the role of the alliance through their visit to the Department of Defense and explained the summary of the U.S. policies on the security in East Asia.  In response to that, the participants thanked him for the meaningful meeting which gave them the opportunity to learn the security environment of East Asia from a wider perspective and to deepen their understandings of the U.S. force's role.

3 White House

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On March 16, in the morning, the participants of the 1st TOFU program visited White House, guided by its staff to learn the history of White House and its current functions. During the visit, the participants made a brief courtesy call on Mr. Matt POTTINGER, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council, and exchanged views with him.

Mr. Pottinger welcomed the participants coming from Okinawa, and stated that the U.S. government is committed to the security of the East Asia region, including Japan, and works closely with the Government of Japan. He expressed his hope that the participants learn more about the United States through the program. In response, the participants expressed their gratitude, mentioning that visiting the White House had broadened their perspective on the role played by the United States, which they had not imagined even though they grew up with Americans living nearby.

4 National Archives

On March 16, in the morning, the participants of the 1st TOFU program visited National Archives, guided by its staff to see the original copy of San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, as well as Okinawa Reversion Agreement and to learn the backgrounds of the conclusion of these treaties and their effects. The participants asked questions actively about conclusion process and historical customs of international agreements.

5 Courtesy call on Foreign Minister Taro Kono

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On March 16, in the afternoon, the participants of the 1st TOFU program made a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Taro Kono, in visit to Washington D.C. for approximately 20 minutes.

Foreign Minister Kono stated that he was very happy to meet the participants, who "think of Okinawa's Future in the United States", in Washington D.C. and that the participants could see a different aspect of Japan from that they had seen in Okinawa thanks to the exchanges of view with those who are committed to the Japan-U.S. relationship in the United States, mentioning he himself had an experience to obtain a new insight after his stay in the United States which gave him a broader perspective during his university days. Furthermore, he encouraged the participants to bring back the fruitful achievements they have made in the United States through the TOFU program and to make use of these achievements to think of Okinawa's future with their friends in Okinawa.

In response, the participants told their impression on the visits to the White House, the Department of State as well as the Department of Defense, and they expressed their intention to bring their experiences obtained through such a meaningful program back to Okinawa to make use of those achievements for Okinawa's future. In addition, the participants said that they were motivated to make efforts to get better understanding of the U.S. local people on Okinawa's charms during the rest of the TOFU program.

6 Embassy of Japan

On March 16, in the afternoon, the participants of the 1st TOFU program visited the Embassy of Japan in the United States and made a courtesy call on Mr. Kazutoshi AIKAWA, Minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary, and exchanged views for approximately one hour.

The participants, briefed on the recent Japan-U.S. relationship by Minister Aikawa, asked questions actively about the role of embassies, an effective way to show off Japan's charms to foreign people as well as the current situation of American politics.

7 Exchange with local students

On March 17, in the morning, the participants of the 1st TOFU program attended an exchange event with local students who study Japanese under the program "Japan Plus" organized by a non-profit organization "Globalized D.C."

The participants made presentations on various subject such as Japanese school life, Japanese traditional plays, current trends in Japan as well as Okinawa's culture (nourishment, Bingata, etc.), Okinawa's resources in tourism and nature. One of the participants showed of her Karate performance. The local students introduced themselves in Japanese and explained some games played in English. Furthermore, the participants taught the local students "Ka-Chah-Shi", Okinawa's traditional improvised dance and the local students taught the participants dances popular in Washington D.C., which let them dance together and deepen their exchange, followed by a joint lunch.

8 National Museum on American History, Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism and lecture on experiences in a Japanese internment camp

On March 17, in the afternoon, the participants of the 1st TOFU program visited the National Museum on American History to see the special exposition on Japanese Americans and the Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism to learn the circumstances where the Japanese-Americans lived during the twentieth century in the United States. 

Given that, the participants received a lecture from Mr. Gerald YAMADA, born in one of the Japanese internment camps during the World War II, on the history of the Japanese-Americans including his own experiences to deepen their understanding on this subject. The participants asked questions on the situation of education given to the Japanese-American children during the war, the identity of the Japanese- Americans, etc.