Vol. 3, No. 3 (April 4, 2007)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.

 

Ambassador Kato Welcome to His Residence
Injured American Soldiers and Their Families

-Speech by Ambassador Kato
(February 23, 2007)

Guests of the reception with (L-R, second row) Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Ambassador Ryozo Kato and President of World Bank Paul Wolfowitz (Photo by Ramon G. Talusan)

 

On Feb. 23, Ambassador Kato held a dinner reception at his residence in Washington, DC for injured U.S. soldiers and their families. For this very special occasion, Prime Minister Abe sent a personal message (which the Ambassador read to the audience during his speech) addressed to the soldiers who were injured at Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones. Close to 100 people attended the event, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and Paul Wolfowitz, President of World Bank and former Deputy Secretary of Defense. Dr. Wolfowitz previously held "Friday Dinners" every week where various organizations, including diplomatic missions, hosted dinners for injured soldiers, and this reception was the result of his request to Ambassador Kato. The following is the Ambassador's speech, including the message from Prime Minister Abe:

 

Welcome to our many distinguished guests this evening--the most distinguished of whom carry the wounds of service to their nation and to a larger cause.

My friend, Paul Wolfowitz--who originally hosted these dinners--asked if I might host such a dinner. Since the Embassy already holds a barbeque every summer for U.S. military personnel--an event I always look forward to--I was delighted to say yes when Paul asked.

Let me tell you why this dinner is meaningful to Japan. Japan is a close ally of the United States and a close ally in the war on terror. Our Air Self-Defense Force is providing airlift in Kuwait and Iraq. Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, our Maritime Self-Defense Force has been in the Indian Ocean providing oil to coalition forces.

Military to military relationship between Japan and the United States is in an excellent shape; so much so that two days ago, in Naval Base of Yokosuka, Japan, the Vice President received a joint briefing from both U.S. and Japanese commanders. I was there, and I was impressed.

And before I left Japan to Washington, as an indication of Japan's support, Prime Minister Abe asked me to send a message directly to all of you attending this dinner tonight. I would like to read it to you:

 

"My dear American friends,

On behalf of the Japanese people, I want to express my special appreciation to those of you who have contributed so personally to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other difficult tasks. I also appreciate the efforts of your families, because their devotion and support are indispensable for your accomplishments. Mindful of the contributions of those who cannot share this moment with us tonight, I extend my profound condolences for your colleagues whose lives were lost in the struggle for freedom.

I want you to know that Japan is fully committed to the fight against terrorism and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. Please also be reminded that Japan always stands with the United States in the face of the difficult challenges of the international community. The grateful people of Japan wish each of you health and success in the years ahead, just as we wish the same for the nation you serve.

          --Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan"

 

Incidentally, Prime Minister Abe stated, on February 9th at the Diet of Japan, expressing his understanding and support of the U.S. policy toward Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, that the United States is an invaluable and irreplaceable ally of Japan.

Ladies and gentlemen, I, too would like to express my own great admiration and appreciation to you.
Although our two cultures are different, in many ways you represent what we Japanese call the samurai spirit. Samurai comes from the ancient Japanese word that means "to serve." Samurai served with valor, with honor, with loyalty, with respectful, ethical behavior. They served with pride. They served with noble selflessness. So have you. You honor this residence by your presence here tonight.

In closing, on behalf of the government and people of Japan, I thank you for your service to the larger ideals that our two countries represent. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, and please enjoy the rest of the evening.

 

"Japan Facing Its Recent History: The Message from Iwo Jima"
-Lecture by Mr. Yukio Okamoto-

-By Shiori Okazaki
(Embassy of Japan)

Mr. Okamoto speaking at JICC

 

Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima is both a box-office hit and a critically acclaimed film, nominated for both the Best Picture and Best Director category at the Oscars. The American film, revolutionary in that it portrays the Second World War from the Japanese perspective, is helping Iwo Jima gather attention in both countries and beyond. On February 6, Mr. Yukio Okamoto gave a speech at JICC about Iwo Jima and what its gruesome battle teaches the Japanese about how it should face the consequences of the War.

Okamoto, who is the president and founder of the business consulting firm Okamoto Associates, has also been a special advisor to both Prime Ministers Hashimoto and Koizumi. He drew upon his political expertise and knowledge of recent history, to speak to an audience of both Japanese and Americans.

Okamoto, after opening his lecture with a lighter topic (two days before the lecture, he was in Miami to see the Superbowl game ("I already feel your jealous eyes," he joked), but caught a cold sitting in the rain), explained his main topic with humble words: "I want to tell you about the people who never changed their allegiance to their countries, both the United States and Japan. I am not a historian but I will give you my own perception of Iwo Jima and the war."


The Story of the Defeated

Iwo Jima, a small Pacific island about 780 miles south of Tokyo, "is now a quiet volcanic island with only memorials reminding visitors that the island was once a fierce battleground in February and March 1945," Okamoto said. While the number of Japanese deaths on the island far outweigh the American deaths (20,000 versus 6,800), only 1,000 Japanese were wounded, as compared to 21,800 Americans. "It was the only battle in the war where American casualties were greater than those of the Japanese side," he said.

He showed a photo of the real Gen. Kuribayashi, as well as photos of Suribachi Mountain, where the famous flag-raising scene and the focus of Clint Eastwood's other film, Flags of Our Fathers, took place. Also prominently featured in both films are the numerous tunnels the Japanese dug as part of their strategy to win the battle. "I've visited Iwo Jima several times, and every time I go, I am overwhelmed by the cruelty of environment," Okamoto said. On this volcanic island, steam is coming from everywhere, and "being in these tunnels is torture because of heat and steam." The Japanese could only stay inside and work for five minutes each, quickly taking turns. "The 22,000 Japanese soldiers defending the island all knew that death was the only way out of the living hell," he said.

The Battle of Iwo Jima, however, was still "clean," because there were no civilizations on the island. "The 60,000 U.S. Marines landing on Iwo Jima on February 19 were in no danger of falling into a moral quagmire, killing 'friendly' persons or 'innocent civilians' in their attempt to defeat their enemy," he said.

Letters from Iwo Jima is exceptional among war films, which is almost always the story of the victors, Okamoto said. Since Japan was "America's enemy in the most brutal war of all," "Depicting Japanese soldiers and sailors as sympathetic persons, caught up in something greater than themselves, trying to do their duty, trying to stay alive and yet not dishonor themselves, has up until now not been a part of any film industry’s vocabulary," he said.

While the film is sweeping awards in the U.S., it is also very well received in Japan. "It's easy to understand--99% of the conversation is in Japanese," Okamoto joked, but said that the film has awakened renewed interest in Iwo Jima, triggering media attention and the publication of numerous books on the subject.


The War for the Japanese People

While losing a war is difficult enough, "to have to further demean oneself and admit wrongdoing to one's conquerors is even more difficult," Okamoto said.

But he did not hesitate to say that he thinks "The battles in the Pacific theater . . . [were] absolutely a wrong and unnecessary war of invasion that began with an attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was an outrageous act. To start a war with the United States was a wrong, reckless, mad decision."

The situation became worse after the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway. After that, Japan continued to lose, and "Battles were no longer those of aggression but those of desperate defense," he said. "Cursed are the war leaders . . . who, even after realizing that Japan had no hope facing this overwhelming mighty enemy, refused to end the war, ordering soldiers for suicidal missions and leading the nation into devastation." More than 60% of all soldier deaths were because of starvation and disease rather than actual battles, he said, and that was because they were not allowed to surrender. "After the Battle of Iwo Jima, the military leadership in Tokyo who were in safety issued an official statement: 'All the men died gallantly in Iwo Jima on March 17th. Let this exemplary act be the model for all the 100 million Japanese,'" he said.

Indeed, the Battle of Iwo Jima, which was a fight for Japanese territory that was coveted by the U.S. for its strategic value, proved to be a keypoint in the war. After the island fell in March 1945, "its airfields were used to support the massive American fire bombings targeted at the Japanese civilian population," Okamoto said. That same month, 334 B-29 bombers dropped 1665 tons of incendiary material on Tokyo, resulting in what is said to be the air raid that single-handedly "killed more people than any other military operation in the history of the world."

In the following few months, 130 sorties of bombers burned more than half of Tokyo, and "66 major cities were bombed with 43% of their urban areas burned to ashes," killing countless people. It was "apocalyptic terror," he said, that was meant to "give direct impact on the maximum number of Japanese in the shortest span of time."

"The invasion of China and the attack on Pearl Harbor were something people learned as knowledge," he said. But "the war as it was actually experienced was the inferno ignited by the firebombing and the wind created by superheated air as it sucked its victims into the flames."

Japan has apologized to the countries it fought against in the War. While the Government of Japan's official apology in 1995 was late, if one considers the stage of World War II that began in 1941, "it is even possible to see historical accounts as being almost settled," Okamoto said. "Japan started the wrong war in a wrong manner but at the end Japan was flattened, more than duly punished." Almost 2,000 war criminals were executed, and large war reparations were paid.

Japan and the United States "have been able to leave the history of war behind and are now very close allies," Okamoto said. The question, however, is Japan's relations with East Asia, with which there are still many issues, including the Yasukuni Shrine.  


Unsettled Accounts with China and Korea

Japan's relationship with China and Korea has much room for improvement. Okamoto began discussing this difficult issue by showing images of the Chinese youth demonstrating, as well as some inflammatory Chinese webpages. Citing polls where 70 to 75% of Chinese youths show loathing for Japan, he said that "The deterioration is most pronounced among younger generation who are more critical about Japan than the generation who actually lived through the war."

The post-war issue was "reignited recently by several factors," Okamoto said, first by "Chinese emphasis in their education since 1994 to scrutinize the war history again." Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni were "taken, untruthfully, as the evidence of Japan's resurgence of militarism," and other issues made matters worse: "textbooks, the East China Sea, territorial dispute over Senkaku Islands, Japan's bid for the permanent seat in the Security Council and of course, Taiwan."

The issue of Yasukuni Shrine is one prominent factor aggravating Japan's relationship with China and Korea. While 2.3 million soldiers are enshrined here, 14 Class A war criminals are also enshrined, drawing outrage from East Asia, especially when the prime minister of Japan makes a visit. While many propose that the problem be solved by removing the Class A war criminals, Okamoto said that the Shrine and Shintoists argue that souls are "like a drop of water: once mingled, you cannot take individual souls away." Besides, Okamoto asked rhetorically, "We remove Class A war criminals, and then we worship without reservation class B and C criminals?" That is clearly not possible.

Okamoto said that during the War, in departing for suicidal battle, the soldiers told each other, "let's meet back at Yasukuni." That is how important the Shrine was to the soldiers, and their families have a reason to visit it. "But for the Prime Minister to make an official visit is completely different," he said. Prime Minister Koizumi is a "genuine pacifist" and not the first leader of Japan to visit Yasukuni--it is simply that "his passion to pay tribute to common soldiers and sailors is very strong." But when considering Japan's neighbors, "The general atmosphere is very important," he said, explaining that when past Prime Ministers Oohira, Suzuki and Nakasone made visits, the protests in China and Korea were much more moderate. "It's very unfortunate that, the number of Prime Minister Koizumi's visits, because of his long tenure, mounted to 5 times," he said. "The conviction is that families go pay tribute to loved ones, but the Government should make the utmost effort not to politicize this."

Another area that is contributing to this problem is education--in both Japan and China. "China is taking added patriotic delegation to schools and war history, and this effect is making their kids hate Japan more. But what is happening in Japan is equally problematic," Okamoto said. "Teachers do not teach recent history." Many children and youth in Japan do not know about Iwo Jima. "I think it is really incumbent on my generation, especially politicians and the Government, to change the course of education," he said. The gulf is only widening, because while students in China continue to be taught by a textbook that provokes further anti-Japan sentiment, students in Japan do not know what the Japanese did to China during the War.

But, Okamoto said, what truly lies at the center of all this conflict is the issue of history. Unlike the perception of most Japanese, the war in fact did not begin in 1941, but began in 1931 in Manchuria. "The difficulty the Japanese is facing even now, in overcoming the legacy of World War II, is the selective memory of the war itself," he said. The War most Japanese experienced or heard about is the memory of "being flattened by the U.S. Forces" and is "all about the Pacific War with the Japanese mistake of attacking the Pearl Harbor."

Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, Japan's prime minister in the immediate postwar period, embodied this sentiment in actual words, offering a quid pro quo to the U.S. that Japan will forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki if the U.S. would forget Pearl Harbor. While such an offer was "pathetically simple and cheap," Okamoto said, "Japan's guilt complex as a victimizer were in the end balanced out by its sufferings as victim."

But such an exchange cannot be applied to the Asian continent, he said. The period after Pearl Harbor and the decade before cannot be separated, because "Japan's war in the Pacific was a continuation of the Continental War that had begun on September 8, 1931--the date of the Mukden Incident and beginning of the seizure of Manchuria and the invasion of Northern China." In the decade from 1931 to 1941, "Japan was a unilateral aggressor and a victimizer, invading China with the sole goal of dominating it and seizing its wealth and territory." While this period "has remained a blank in the Japanese people's collective historical memory," he said, "It is for what happened during that decade that Japan and China's relations remain unstable and bitter."

The reconciliation process with Korea is somewhat stagnant, too. "What we did in China is already depressing but what we did in Korea is even more depressing," Okamoto said. "We annexed Korea, we robbed their national identity, we robbed their names, we robbed their language, and forced them to become Japanese." One redeeming factor is that Japan started the reconciliation process earlier than with China, concluding a peace treaty in 1960, and coming to an agreement with former President Kim Dae-Jung. "Finally the two countries are agreeing to put their history behind," he said. Even pop culture, such as the popularity of Korean movie stars, drama and music in Japan, is contributing to this positive turn. Okamoto said that even though under the current President Roh Moo-Hyun, the Japan-Korea relationship has once again become confrontational, "Once we agree to establish rapprochement it will be easier than with China."

While many have contrasted Japan and Germany in terms of offering apologies, saying that Germany has been "more contrite, more active in reconciliation efforts and much more rigorous in pursuing war criminals," Okamoto said that one cannot draw a simple comparison between the two nations.

In Germany, "it was the Nazi Party, not the German people who could be blamed," he said. The Germans themselves are war victims, and could be forceful in confronting Nazi war criminals. On the other hand, "the Japanese population was told that not only the military leadership but the entire nation is responsible for the wrong war and that Ichioku Soh Zange must take place--meaning that the entire 100 million Japanese must all show remorse and repent," he said. He explained that "The Japanese society has not succeeded in drawing a line separating the real culprits of the wars from the rest of the population," and added that "This will be our task."


New Hope

On the other hand, Okamoto said, Japan-China relations are showing signs of improving. He recently took part in a Chinese television show, seen by more than 400 million Chinese, where he and a renowned Japanese commentator participated in a heated discussion with two men representing the Chinese side. As for the feedback on the show, while some Chinese wrote on the internet that the Japanese representatives were lying, making the story sound beautiful, "there were also a very sizeable number of people saying that we [the Chinese] must do something for the Japanese too, and [that] we must also look into our own history," Okamoto said. In any case, he said, this was "something I would not dream would take place in China 10 years ago."

Okamoto also spoke about a personal friend in the audience, Mr. Jing Huang, a scholar in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. Huang's grandfather was shot by Japanese soldiers 14 times in front of his family, including his son. As a result, Huang's father has always told Huang to hate the Japanese. But Huang and Okamoto--whose own father unwillingly fought in Manchuria--are now very close friends. "Although we could not come to rapprochement with the Chinese in my generation, I think Jing Huang's generation can," Okamoto said.


Lessons Taught by the Occupation

Okamoto then spoke about the American occupation in Japan, and how its lessons may be applied to the current American forces in Iraq. The leaders are important, but so is the everyman who is stationed there.

Under Douglas MacArthur's administration, "the Japanese sentiment [of those] who were flattened, bombed, and destroyed by the U.S. quickly turned to favor Americans," instead realizing that the blame lied with the Japanese military leadership. But equally crucial was each American soldier who came to Japan during the Occupation. "No single shot was fired at American soldiers after the Japanese surrender, and Americans were free to visit all the cities in Japan," he said. Okamoto, who grew up through this period, confessed that the only thing he remembers about American GIs was that they gave him chocolates, but said that the "Americans really helped Japan build institutions and made Japan what we are today." The soldiers were the same people who were engaged in fierce battle with Japan, Okamoto said, but once the War was over, they were back to their gentler human nature.

Okamoto then discussed his experiences with the Americans stationed in Iraq, which he frequently visited as Prime Minister Koizumi's special advisor. He spoke about his acquaintances Lieutenant General Dave Petraeus and Brigadier General Frank Helmick of 101 Airborne stationed in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.

General Petraeus, who was the Commander of 101 Airborne, emphasized that "the most important mission is to win the hearts of the Iraqi people." With the 30 million dollars he had as commander's budget, he engaged in 5000 projects, including building infrastructure and a fuel system. General Helmick believed an Iraqi woman who claimed that when American soldiers came to her house to search for weapons, one of them took $100, all of her savings. Although she had no evidence to show, Helmick interviewed her and gave her back $100.

"One can be optimistic about the future of Iraq," Okamoto said. "My only hope is that Dave Petraeus will restore among the soldiers the most important thing . . . [for] the people administrating, after all, I think everything comes down to the quality of human being."

***

While Letters of Iwo Jima has awakened renewed interest in the Second World War and the terrible battle on that island, "I hope that this will not end by mourning those brave heroes who died in Iwo Jima," Okamoto said. "We also have to think about what we did in other places," he said, especially in the Asian theatre. "It is time that we take a further look into history. This is our last chance. Very soon, the generation with a strong experience with the War will disappear."

 

Anime Convention in DC:
Katsucon

-By Shiori Okazaki
(Embassy of Japan)

Cosplay at Katsucon: Ichigo Kurosaki (right) and Anti-Ichigo from the manga and anime "Bleach"

 

The 13th annual Katsucon, a Washington, DC-area convention that celebrates anime, manga and Japanese culture, took place on President's Day weekend last month, from Feb. 16 through 18. More than 7,000 anime and manga fans attended, wearing various costumes from their favorite shows and flooding the Omni Shoreham Hotel, this year's convention site.

The history of Katsucon is a testament to how much the anime and manga culture has grown and continues to grow in the U.S. Katsucon started in Virginia Beach, about 200 miles south of Washington, DC. As the number of attendees started to grow, the convention moved to Washington. But this year, while Omni Shoreham blocked out all other guests besides those in airline contracts, the hotel still overflowed. (And meanwhile, Virginia still has its share of its own annual anime conventions, from Anime Mid-Atlantic (taking place in Richmond in June) to Anime USA (taking place in Arlington in November).)

Despite Katsucon Entertainment, Inc.'s attempts to control the crowds within the hotel by designating "parking spaces" for photo-ops, the attendees were usually too excited to take heed. Everyone was in "cosplay," socializing in the lobby, commenting on each other's costumes in the hallways and taking photos. A great majority of the characters were from Japanese manga that later became anime: Luffy and Zoro from One Piece were in attendance with handmade costumes; a mother and two daughters were dressed as Urd, Belldandy and Skuld from Oh My Goddess!; and Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach was present in both of his forms, the normal Ichigo and his alter-ego Anti-Ichigo. Video game characters from Final Fantasy IV and the Super Mario Brothers also came, as well as characters from American comics, such as Wolverine from X-Men and Venom from Spiderman. Some were not related to any existing comics or anime, such as the ad-hoc Pocky Man, who was dressed in flattened Pocky boxes and wrappers.

Ms. Colette Fozard, Katsucon's Vice Chair Person, Hotel Liaison and unofficial go-to person for all technicalities during the weekend, guided our group through the various sites of the convention. She said that all of the staff at Katsucon, which was comprised of 300 people this year from all over the country, are volunteers coming at their own expense. While there are incentives, such as free pre-registration to the next convention in return for 20 hours of work, "We all do this because we enjoy sharing this experience with the attendees," Fozard said. "We haven't figured out yet whether it's crazy or nuts--it's one or the other." At the same time, she said, "We get a lot of gratification from having 7,000 people enjoying themselves and having a good time." Fozard has further reason to have a special fondness for Katsucon: she met her husband through this convention.

So what is in store for a participant at the largest anime convention in the DC area? As in conventions of any theme, Katsucon has numerous panel discussions and seminars--but they go beyond pop culture and often dip into academia. This year, discussion topics included voice acting (specifically dubbing for Japanese anime in English), the globalization of anime, the Korean market of Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), fan art and copyright laws, Yaoi (gay) and Yuri (lesbian) storylines, and even a comparison of Gundam and the millennium-old classic saga The Tale of the Heike. Other topics focused on various aspects of Japanese culture, such as the history of Japanese professional wrestling and the joy and challenges of teaching English in Japan.

There were also many hands-on and educational classes, including a basic Japanese language class taught by a college professor, a kimono workshop, a web design class for those who are working on web comics, a cel painting workshop and a Photoshop class.

For those who would rather play than sit in a lecture, there were numerous activities, such as the karaoke of anime tunes. Because "It helps to have a drink, whether singing or listening," as Fozard said, Katsucon positioned a cash bar immediately outside the karaoke room. For a taste of more professional music, one could also see independent Japanese rock (J-Rock for short) bands in concert. Fozard said that, while the songs are in Japanese, the American audience always show their enthusiasm by singing along. Other activities this year were anime parliament, where participants debated about particular manga storylines, among other topics; and live-action role-playing games (LARP), where each person plays a character with assigned abilities and backgrounds, and uses the hotel itself as the setting.

Those with artistic talents had several venues to showcase their work. Original drawings done by amateurs, including digital, hand drawn, and even etched illustrations on glitter boards, were bid in the art auction. Amateur artists were also able to rent a table at the "artist alley," where they displayed their work, talked to visitors and even offered to draw visitors' caricatures as anime characters. Those who would rather work in multimedia entered the anime music videos awards, combining their favorite anime clips and a song to create a music video and competing for awards in the comedy, drama and action categories.

The "merchant hall" was a very popular destination, filled with the sellers of everything related to manga and anime. Anime DVDs, comic books and manga (both English translations and the originals imported from Japan), calendars and posters were just the beginning. Tables with anime toys, costumes, jewelry and accessories lined the hall, and particularly prominent was the booth featuring a large display of full-size swords. Those with diamond-patterned leather hilts looked just like authentic samurai swords from feudal Japan, while medieval swords with swirling silver or gold metal hilts seemed to come straight from Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. Fozard explained that most sellers here work professionally. "Every weekend there's a convention somewhere in the U.S.," she said. "Many dealers work every weekend, traveling around the country for conventions and supplementing their income with sales from the web."

Katsucon was "on" for 24 hours. If, even after a day's worth of activities, one still had energy at night, there were anime shows to catch or games to play. There were two rooms for videogames, one classic arcade (with generations-old games such as Street Fighter, Pacman, and Donkey Kong), and one with imported console games such as PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 in a banquet room filled with seats and televisions.

While the above activities may have their fans, it was clear that most everyone was interested in cosplay--Katsucon staff members were virtually the only people not in costume. Fozard said that many change costumes throughout the weekend, sometimes five to six times (once every morning and evening). They can enter to be judged in a costume contest, and depending on the number of awards contestants have previously won, they must enter one of several divisions: beginner, novice, journeymen and craftsmen. Handmade costumes can also be judged for craftsmanship. Cosplay skits, in which contestants can showcase interpretations of their favorite anime or their own original skits, is a very popular event during the convention. "Some people plan about six months in advance," Fozard said.

This year's Katsucon was significant from a societal standpoint, too. A new 6-volume manga created by the World Bank, called 1 World Manga, debuted its first volume at the convention. "That's how much manga and Japanese-style comics have affected the world," Fozard said. The first volume of 1 World Manga, which features a teenage martial artist who tackles various global issues such as AIDS and environmental problems, can be previewed here: http://youthink.worldbank.org/multimedia/gallery/manga_passage1/index.php.

There is no doubt that Katsucon will continue to grow, but even greater is the growth of anime and manga culture in the U.S. Just within the next month, various anime conventions will be held in cities from Las Vegas, Nashville and Ft. Lauderdale to Monroeville, Pa. and Farmington, Maine. Also in April are conventions in Canada, Australia and Germany, proving worldwide popularity. As in 1 World Manga, this international phenomenon can bring readers and viewers not only entertainment but also knowledge and inspiration, such as the impetus to create a better world.

 

Cabinet Team Reveals Package for Curing Widening Inequalities
As They Grow into Major Political Issue

(Japan Brief Article by Foreign Press Center Japan (February 21, 2007))

 

 

-Japan-Related Organizations in DC <6>-
Asia Society Washington Center

-By Joseph Snyder
Executive Director,
Asia Society Washington Center

Ambassador Kato (with Leo A. Daly III, Chairman of the Asia Society Washington Center) speaking on U.S.-Japan Relations

 

This series features Japan-related organizations in the Washington, DC area: about who they are, their activities, and their efforts to bring further understanding of Japan to the American community, and strengthen Japan-U.S. relations on a local level.

The Asia Society is an international organization dedicated to strengthening relationships and deepening understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, the Society reaches audiences around the world through its headquarters in New York and centers in Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai and Shanghai. A nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization, the Society provides a forum for building awareness of the more than thirty countries broadly defined as the Asia-Pacific region - the area from Japan to Iran, and from Central Asia to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Through art exhibitions and performances, films, lectures, seminars and conferences, publications and assistance to the media, and materials and programs for students and teachers, the Asia Society presents the uniqueness and diversity of Asia.

The Asia Society Washington Center, established in 1970 as the first center of the Society outside New York, provides a forum in the nation's capital for diplomats, members of Congress, government officials, journalists, scholars, artists, business executives, and other experts to exchange views on a wide variety of subjects concerning Asia. The Center conducts more than sixty public programs per year on contemporary affairs, business, trade and investment, economic development, arts and culture. Membership in the Washington Center is open to the public and is encouraged for both the specialist and the non-expert who share an interest in the region. Programs are designed to include generous time for questions and responses between the audience and speakers and are offered in a social setting that allows interaction among those attending.

Ongoing program series include:

Contemporary Affairs Series featuring Asian and American officials, journalists, and scholars discussing current policy issues.

Washington Corporate Series examining trade and investment issues including briefings by American ambassadors to Asian and Pacific countries.

Asia Society Congressional Forum presenting members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives who interpret congressional views and new legislation affecting U.S.-Asia relations.

Ambassadors' Briefing Series presenting U.S. Ambassadors to Asia discussing current developments and trends in their area of responsibility.

Meet the Author Series highlighting popular new publications about Asia.

Arts at the Embassies offering cultural events co-hosted with Asian embassies.

Evenings for Educators helping pre-collegiate teachers introduce Asia in their classrooms through exposure to Washington's diplomatic community and provision of curriculum resources.

Spices & Rices celebrating Asian cuisine through tastings with cookbook authors and chefs

Asia Society Young Professionals designed for individuals in their 20s and 30s who wish to further their interest in Asia through educational and social activities.

In recent years, the Washington Center has celebrated Japan and honored Minoru Makihara, Senior Corporate Advisor of the Mitsubishi Corporation, at its 2005 Annual Dinner, has featured lectures on U.S.-Japan relations by Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato and other officers in the Japanese Embassy, and has presented cultural programs on kimono and the art of sushi. On December 6, we will co-sponsor a major conference on East Asian Integration and U.S.-Japan relations with JETRO and the Center Strategic and International Studies.

Asia Society Washington Center programs and funding are autonomous from the national organization, and all income is sought locally from membership dues, program fees, special events, and grants from foundations, corporations, and individuals. The Asia Society is acknowledged as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

The Asia Society Washington Center is located at 1575 Eye Street NW, Suite 325, Washington, DC 20005. Our telephone number is 202-833-2742, and our fax number is 202-833-0189. Our email address is DCinfo@AsiaSoc.org. Our website is www.AsiaSociety.org/dc.

 

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