Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

CULCON’s Journey to Explore “Extraordinary” Talents
ITO Misako / Secretary-General of the United States - Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON) Secretariat in Japan

July 30, 2019
The first state guest in the era of the new Japanese emperor was the President of the United States. I believe that many people from various walks of life - not just those involved in US-Japanese relations - had many occasions to think about "Americans" and their relationship with Japan.

CULCON (The U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange), where I serve as the Secretary-General of the Secretariat in Japan, originated in 1961 from a conversation that President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda had on a presidential yacht on the Potomac River. This conference consists of panels of pundits and experts from the public and private sector of both countries, with a mission to make policy recommendations to the president of the U.S. and the prime minister of Japan once every two years. Prime Minister Kishi, who visited the United States to sign the Japan-US Security Treaty in 1960, requested President Eisenhower to visit Japan. However, the president’s press secretary, who came to Japan in preparation for the presidential visit, was met with fierce struggles in Japan in opposition to the Security Treaty. Shocked by the intensity of the anti-American sentiment in Japan, the US side acutely felt the need to promote mutual understanding by addressing the foundations of the two societies.

At that time, the word "alliance" was not acceptable in Japan, and "partnership" was used instead. Furthermore, the expression "intellectual exchange" did not exist either in the Japanese or American lexicon. In such circumstances, I am deeply impressed by the perspicacity of these leaders who thought about establishing a conference for intellectual exchange to build true mutual understanding. We may recall that The International House of Japan, a private initiative, was founded in 1952, and The Japan Foundation, a public institution, was founded in 1972. CULCON found itself in the middle of these initiatives.

What kind of a world do millenials, who are keenly attuned to the changing era, and subsequent generations want, and what kind of cooperation and contribution can Japan and the U.S. make? Two years ago, with a mandate to explore such new perspectives, the “next-generation task force” was formed within CULCON. The result of the task force discussions was the creation of a non-profit organization, Anniversaries Inc., registered in Washington, D.C.

Currently, there is no specific office location, but the organization exists as a platform for exchanging opinions. Rather than relying on Japanese experts on American studies and American experts on Japanese studies, the preference is to focus on extraordinary talents from both countries who are making their mark in their fields of expertise. For example, an increasing number of people are moving from senior posts in the White House to leadership positions in IT companies in the Silicon Valley. It would be interesting to hear what these relatively young people think is important for this world. We feel that the new role of the CULCON should be to convey their opinions, hopes and policy recommendations to the leaders of the United States and Japan. We are now realigning our efforts with these thoughts in mind.

The former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Richard Armitage, and the former Japanese ambassador to U.S., Mr. Ryozo Kato – both heavy weights in Japan-U.S. relations - along with Mr. Ren Ito, a young former diplomat, participated in the founding of Anniversaries, Inc. Mr. Ito is a senior executive at the first Japanese unicorn venture company and also teaches at a law school in the United States. Instead of working full-time at a single occupation, he practices a next generation lifestyle of multi-tasking across national borders while managing his time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The CULCON's commemorative event was held on March 18th at a manor house in Georgetown - a historic residential area of Washington, D.C. Differing from the style of previous events, each speaker was given 15 minutes to present his or her personal views of current challenges to CULCON members. They presented their ideas like sales pitches. Members quickly responded with a barrage of questions. Some questions were very basic common knowledge, but other questions were more in-depth. These questions deepened our understanding and enhanced our discussions. Five people did their presentations in this style in the morning, and in the afternoon, a wider audience was invited to participate in a public debate. A wide variety of topics such as artificial intelligence, climate change, the rule of law and China, U.S. relationship to the situation in Asia, and the electoral behavior patterns of millennials were discussed.

Three months later, on June 6th, the debate location was moved to Dallas, Texas for an AI-specific discussion meeting. Due to the relocation of Toyota's North American headquarters from California to Dallas and the designation of the state capital, Austin, as iconic Silicon Hills (similar to Silicon Valley), talented individuals and opportunities for innovation are converging in Texas.

There are many venues available in America. “Anniversaries, Inc" was named bearing in mind the tenth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. CULCON's journey to explore “extraordinary” talents will continue toward that target year.

Misako Ito is the Secretary-General of the United States - Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON) Secretariat in Japan
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

伊藤 実佐子 / 日米文化教育交流会議(CULCON)日本側事務局長

2019年 7月 30日


時代の変化を敏感にとらえるミレニアル世代、さらにその後の世代は、どのような世界にしていきたいのか、そのためには日米でどのような協力と貢献ができるのか。そういう新たな視点を探る試みとしてカルコン下に「次世代タスクフォース」が結成されたのは2年前のこと。そこでの議論を経て生まれたのが、ワシントンDC登録の非営利団体Anniversaries, Inc.である。


Anniversaries, Inc.を共同創立したのは、リチャード・アーミテージ元国務副長官、加藤良三元駐米大使という日米関係の重鎮に加えて、まだ若き元外交官の伊藤錬(いとう れん)。現在、日本初のユニコーンとなったベンチャー企業の経営幹部であり、また米国のロースクールで教鞭も執っている。フルタイムで一つの職業に従事しているのではなく、マルチ・タスクで国境を越え、24時間・365日の時間配分を行う、まさに次世代のライフスタイルを実践している。




一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > CULCON’s Journey to Explore “Extraordinary” Talents