Submission of the Report of the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON) Education Task Force to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
June 13, 2013
(Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)
(Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)
On Thursday, June 13, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON). During the meeting, he received a report that set a goal to "Double the Number of U.S. and Japanese Students Studying in Each Other's Country by 2020" in order to nurture global talent that can contribute to the strengthening of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. The summary of the meeting is as follows.
- At the outset of the meeting, Mr. Minoru Makihara, Japan Culcon Chair (Senior Corporate Advisor, Mitsubishi Corporation) presented Prime Minister Abe with the report compiled by the Culcon Education Task Force.
- Following this, Mr. Makihara explained that during its joint meeting last year CULCON had noted with deep concern the sharp decrease in students exchanges between Japan and the United States, and had convened the Education Task Force under each side's leadership of Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister, and Mr. Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. He stated that the report this time had been created to make recommendations to both governments based on the discussion of the Task Force toward the goal it had set to "Double the Number of U.S. and Japanese Students Studying in Each Other's Country by 2020." He added that in particular, as issues to be addressed by the Japanese side, while it wasn't exactly the case that the report had taken a lesson from the 'three arrows' of the Prime Minister, it did contain policies focused on three areas: 1) the reform and improvement of English language instruction in schools; 2) the advancement of globalization at universities, including the encouragement of a liberal arts education for better training of global citizens; and 3) the encouragement of industry to hire new graduates that have returned from studies abroad. He also noted that for the United States, it contained policies related to the acceptance of international students such as visa procedures. Furthermore, Mr. Makihara stated that the report would also be submitted to the U.S. side soon, and expressed his wish that Prime Minister Abe would discuss the vitalization of student exchange between Japan and the United States the next time he met with U.S. President Barack Obama.
- In response, Prime Minister Abe stated that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of both countries. In this context, he highly praised the role Culcon has played in enhancing the Japan-U.S. relationship through people-to-people exchanges, and said that he would be sure to closely read the important report which was compiled by Mr. Makihara, who was his senior from Seikei Senior High School.
- Former Prime Minister Fukuda said that exchange of the next generation would be important for the Japan-U.S. relationship, and has concern over the current state of affairs. He noted that although former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mineta was not in attendance that day, he truly appreciated for Mr. Mineta's passionate and beneficial advice offered over the course of the compilation of the report. He added that the CULCON Education Task Force had also received a tremendous amount of assistance from the Tomodachi Initiative of Mr. John V. Roos, Ambassador of the United States to Japan, who was in attendance, not to mention that from Mr. Thierry Porté, U.S. CULCON Chair.
- Mr. Porté stated that over its history of more than 50 years, CULCON had been active as a high-level organization for discussion on policies in the field of educational and cultural interchange in order to facilitate even closer Japan-U.S. relations. He said that the Education Task Force, which had inherited this tradition of CULCON, had been able to compile a report full of comprehensive ideas through the excellent cooperation among its members from the public and private sectors. He also expressed the desires to convey the strong support shared by the U.S. side for the realization of the report, and to continue cooperation in order to bring Japan and the United States even closer together.
- Following Mr. Porté's remarks, Ambassador Roos said that efforts to reverse student exchange trends between the two countries were an extremely important issue, one that is highly prioritized by the United States too, and expressed his hope for close cooperation between Japan and the United States on the execution of the policies included in the report.
- Lastly, Prime Minister Abe stated that the Abe Administration was carrying out two policies in order to see more Japanese students study abroad: 1) the offering of public and private economic support for young people wishing to study abroad; and 2) efforts to ensure that the timing of job hunting does not pose a disadvantage to students returning from abroad. Furthermore, he also explained simultaneous efforts being made at eight national universities to greatly increase the number of teachers and researchers from overseas with the thought that there should be thorough globalization carried out within the reform of Japanese universities. He stated that he believed these initiatives would also lead to the increase of the U.S. students to study abroad in Japan. In addition, he said that he wanted to thoroughly work on existing initiatives, such as the JET program.