Vol. 6, No. 10 (December 10, 2010)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.
In this issue
Ministerial Trilateral Meeting of
-Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Seiji Maehara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Kim Sung-hwan, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America Hillary Rodham Clinton, met in Washington, D.C., on December 6, 2010 for a ministerial trilateral. This meeting builds on longstanding efforts to intensify policy coordination and strategic dialogue among the three countries and reflects the need for greater trilateral cooperation in addressing enduring and emerging challenges. The Ministers noted that as three of the world's major economies with shared values, the three nations have a common cause and responsibilities to maintain stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
The Ministers recognized that the U.S.-Japan and U.S.-ROK Alliances and Japan-ROK partnership are essential to the maintenance of peace and stability in Asia. All three...
APEC Summit Adopts "Yokohama Vision"
-Japan Brief / FPCJ, No. 1038
The Foreign Press Center Japan (FPCJ) recaps the outcomes of the recent APEC Summit in Yokohama and reports what the major Japanese media are saying. To learn more about the Summit, visit the official APEC website, or find out what the Prime Minister had to say about it in his press conference following the summit.
At a meeting hosted by Japan in Yokohama on November 13-14, leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed on the "Yokohama Vision" for pursuing an "economically-integrated community" that will be "robust" and "secure." Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who chaired the APEC summit, said at a press conference after the meeting that "agreement was reached on the direction of ultimately achieving a Free Trade Area of...
Obama Visits Japan;
By now, you have likely heard about President Obama's visit to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura during his trip to Japan, or about the macha green tea ice cream - now lovingly dubbed "Obamacha" that he enjoyed. Maybe you even saw the video circulating the web of Obama greeting Paro, the therapeutic baby seal robot.
But what did President Obama and Prime Minister Kan actually discuss when the time came to roll up their sleeves and get down to business? In fact, the two leaders agreed upon a number of new initiatives, several of them touching on job creation. For example, the Energy Smart Communities Initiative (ESCI), one of two new initiatives that build on last year's Clean Energy Action Plan. Or the U.S. - Japan Dialogue to Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation, which is just one of three initiatives intended to reinforce the economic ties between the two nations.
Learn more about these and other initiatives launched as a result of the bilateral meeting, including some addressing nuclear security and air travel between Japan and the U.S., in the Fact Sheet on New U.S.-Japan Initiatives from the Prime Minister's Cabinet.
Following his meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister Kan also issued a Fact Sheet on "Strengthening the exchange between Japan and U.S. for further deepening the Japan-U.S. Alliance," in which he reaffirmed the continuation of the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program and announced new initiatives for several thousand exchanges between the two countries in just 5 years.
The G20 Seoul Summit
On November 11 (local time), Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited Seoul, the Republic of Korea (ROK), to attend the G20 Seoul Summit.
The Prime Minister attended a roundtable meeting on "trade and investment" of the G20 Business Summit, and exchanged views with the business leaders present at the meeting, focusing on the theme of "revitalizing trade."
Later, the Prime Minister held a meeting with Mr. Nobuaki Koga, President of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO), and participants of the G20 Labor Unions' Summit.
In the evening, the Prime Minister attended a welcome reception held at the National Museum of Korea, and then a working dinner.
Afterwards, Prime Minister Kan held talks with Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey.
On November 12 (local time), Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was visiting the Republic of Korea (ROK) to attend the G20 Seoul Summit, held talks with Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, following which he attended the working session, the working lunch, and other G20 events.
During the Japan-EU Summit, Prime Minister Kan said that Japan and the EU should reinforce relations in a broad range of areas including politics, economy, and culture, as partners with shared values.
During the working session that followed, discussion took place on modernization of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) governance, financial regulation reform, and other topics.
A Japanese Judo Gold Medalist at Hendley Elementary
The space exploded with a resounding thud, and Olympic Gold Medalist and Judo champion Kosei Inoue lay defeated on the ground. His vanquisher? A fifth-grade girl.
That was one of the most memorable scenes at Hendley Elementary last month, as this season's Embassy Adoption Program began with a bang - or rather, a kiai (the battle cry used in Japanese martial arts). Mr. Inoue won the Gold Medal in Judo at the 2004 Olympic Games in Sydney and now coaches Japan's national men's Judo team. The kids at Hendley were in for a treat as he demonstrated some of his winning techniques.
He began with the technique known as Ouchi Gari. The circle of surrounding students looked on as Mr. Inoue and his partner slowly shuffled their feet in preparation. Then, with a sudden fierce but perfectly controlled push, his opponent was on the ground. Cheers and whoops filled the air, and the kids' faces lit up as if to say, "Did he just do that? Are they allowed to do that in our school?"
The most exciting part of the demonstration came when Inoue combined three moves into one. He explained that, for bigger opponents, a single technique isn't enough. He began with the Ouchi Gari again, then used Osoto Gari before finishing with his most famous technique, the Uchimata, in which the Judo champion picked up his "weakened" partner and flung him all the way up and over his shoulder, slamming him down on the other side. The impact was underscored by particularly vigorous whoops and gasps.
It's no wonder that the most popular question during the Q&A was whether or not it hurts to be thrown. Mr. Inoue assured the kids, though, that he and his partner are experts. Judo is not about violence, he said, but rather about overcoming obstacles. Even he has had ups and downs throughout his career, he promised, and he encouraged the students to follow their dreams, no matter the seeming difficulty.
The Embassy Adoption Program pairs embassies with fifth- and sixth-grade classes throughout the D.C. Public School District. The Hendley teacher responsible for organizing the event was excited to have been paired with the Embassy of Japan this year. She promised that, although the kids could only manage a "konnichiwa" this time, by the end of the school year they will be speaking whole sentences, and even singing the national anthem!
The kids couldn't hope to do much better for inspiration than an Olympic gold medalist - and there could be no better cultural representative than a master of the event for which Japan is most famous!
Young Adventurers Welcomed Home from the JET Program
-Embassy of Japan staff
On November 4, the stately Neo-Georgian rooms of the Old Ambassador's Residence on Massachusetts Avenue filled with dozens of smiling faces eager to welcome 11 young professionals home from Japan. The guests of honor have recently returned from the jade colored grid work of the rice fields and bicycle friendly streets of the Japanese towns that were home to them during their 1 to 5 years on the JET Program.
A collaboration of several Japanese government ministries, The JET Program recruits internationally minded college graduates from many countries around the world to live and work in Japan, placing the participants with schools, local government offices and boards of education for employment. American graduates participating in the program - 2,420 in 2010 - account for around half of all participants. Their numbers serve as testament to the strength of the U.S. - Japan relationship - a relationship which extends beyond the meeting rooms of international summits and into the classrooms, community centers, and even bars and izakaya pubs in which regular people drive the exchange of ideas and encounter of cultures.
As a big supporter of the program, Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki made a personal appearance to welcome the JETs home. Other speakers of the evening included Maurice Maloney, president of the JET Alumni Association's DC chapter and new returnee Zach Przystup. Przystup described the generosity of the Japanese people through an anecdote of a lost coin. After seeing him lose a 100 yen ($1.19) coin to a sidewalk drain, a man rushed out of his shop to give this stranger in a strange land a new one.
These small acts of kindness can have long term effects. They're home, but these adventurers' connection to Japan won't stop here. For many, the bonds they’ve forged with our global neighbors and the connection they feel to their home away from home will shape their futures in ways they haven't yet anticipated.
In the meantime, no sooner has the community welcomed these diplomatic explorers home than the JET Office at the Embassy of Japan has begun processing the nearly 5,000 applications for next year, belying any fears that tough economic times would push the need for the quality language education and international exchange into a dusty corner.
Indeed, the Ambassador, JET alumni, and other friends of JET didn't just show up to the reception for the 1930s architecture and the catered sushi. They were there because they know the impact this program has both on a personal and on an international level. They're not the only ones. In a meeting with President Obama during the recent APEC Summit in Yokohama, Prime Minister Naoto Kan not only confirmed the continuation of the JET Program, but also specifically lauded it along with such prestigious programs as the Fulbright Scholarship as an important contributor to better mutual understanding.
As our world becomes smaller, such understanding has never been more important.