Japan-United States of America Relations
2nd “Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States” (TOFU) program
From March 20 to 23, 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 21st, in the morning, the TOFU participants visited the Department of State and engaged in a simulation with Department of State and Department of Defense officials for about 2.5 hours, where they learned what diplomats do in the context of the U.S.-Japan alliance.
After the role-playing activity, Mr. Wuebbels, Political-Military Affairs Officer, Office of Japanese Affairs of the State Department, explained to the participants that there are various forms of cooperation between the U.S. and Japan as students learned through the activity. He also stated that the U.S.-Japan relations is not limited to security issues as usually portrayed in the media, but covers broader areas such as economic and people-to-people exchanges. He stressed the broader importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance to international peace and stability.
A student representative in return expressed a sincere appreciation to the State Department and the Defense Department for having the TOFU students, stating that through this exchange, they were able to learn how important the U.S-Japan alliance is as situations in the international community change rapidly.
2. White House
On March 22, in the morning, the 2nd TOFU participants visited White House to learn the history and function of White House. Tofu participants also made a courtesy call on Mr. Eric Johnson, Director for Japan Affairs, National Security Council. Mr. Johnson explained the role of NSC and importance of the U.S.-Japan relations and encouraged the students to consider careers in public service and to leverage what they learn through TOFU program for their future. A student representative expressed a gratitude to this important opportunity to learn about the Alliance, and expressed their intention to continue to consider what they can do as youth from Okinawa.
3. National Archives
On March 22, in the afternoon, the participants of the 2nd 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 expressed sincere appreciation for this opportunity and actively asked questions about contents and modality of each treaty and how to preserve these precious historical documents.
4. Embassy of Japan
On March 22, in the afternoon, the participants of the 2nd TOFU program made a courtesy call on Mr. Kazutoshi AIKAWA, Minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Japan in the United States and exchanged views for approximately one hour.
The participants, briefed on the recent Japan-U.S. relationship and the role of Japanese embassy, actively asked questions about an effective way to tell Okinawa’s charms to American people as well as the role of diplomat.
5. Exchange with local students
On March 23, in the morning, the 2nd TOFU participants participated in an exchange event with local students learning Japanese through “Japan Plus” organized by an NPO “Globalize DC.” The participants gave presentations about school life in Japan, culture, tourism resources and natural environment of Okinawa, and performed Okinawa Karate. After local students introduced themselves in Japanese, they deepened friendship thorough dancing together to an English song taught by the local students and having lunch together.
6. Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism and lecture on experiences in Japanese-American internment camp
On March 23rd, in the afternoon, the 2nd TOFU participants visited the Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism to learn the circumstances where the Japanese-Americans lived during the twentieth century in the United States.
The participants also received a lecture from Mr. Gerald YAMADA, born in one of the Japanese internment camps during 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 identity of the Japanese-Americans and the history and current situations of race discrimination.