Newsletter Vol.1

March 23, 2012

In this season of the vernal equinox, we would like to give thanks for the continued health and prosperity of all the corporations as well as the individual donors who have made generous contributions to the Japan Commerce Association Foundation of Washington, DC (JCAWF). Here in Washington, due to an incessantly warm winter, flowers which typically have a later blooming period flourished this year together with the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms. The city has welcomed this splendid Centennial with a bursting floral display.
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First, we would like to sincerely thank all of you for providing your contributions and support for the “Cherry Blossom Centennial Commemoration Project” currently underway with the JCAWF and the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC (JCAW), together with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, the Embassy of Japan, and other related groups.
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Last September, we sent all of you a letter asking for your contributions and in that letter we described five projects with which we intend to bring to life your contributions. From here out, we would like to notify all of you on the progress of these projects by way of e-mail and our website (www.jcawf.org). By presenting this information to all of you, we can more clearly convey how we are using your generous contributions, and at the same time we can introduce various festive events which will be held.
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We will be issuing this newsletter four times (once every three months), but we will be notifying you of specific information on each event on the above website and by e-mail. We will be filling Washington, DC with events befitting your courtesy and this momentous Centennial. Please enjoy the anticipation.

 Sumio Ohtsuji, JCAW President

Takashi Ohde, JCAWF President

 

UPDATES ON EACH PROJECT

  • Promotion of Intellectual Exchange

    Enlisting cooperation from the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, based in Washington, DC, we have launched a task force for creating a contemporary Japan-U.S. vision. The task force comprises young American experts on Japan from the industry, government, and academic sectors, and two multiple-day meetings have already been held with this task force. Gathering recommendations (title, “A Contemporary U.S.-Japan Vision for Shared Progress and Prosperity”), the task force will hold a panel meeting on June 6th.  While the phrase “U.S.-Japan Relations” may at times lead to a discussion on national security, this task force will be more focused on looking for a comprehensive Japan-U.S. strategy for a mutually beneficial relationship from the business perspective.
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    See also the Mansfield Foundation Recommendation Task Force Webpage:http://mansfieldfdn.org/program/dialogues/u-s-japan-task-force/
    *Details on the Panel Meeting will follow on our website (http://www.jcawf.org) and by e-mail.

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  • Support for Japanese Language Education in the U.S.
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    The cultivation of Japanese-speaking Americans is becoming an extremely important agenda for strengthening the infrastructure of Japan-U.S. relations. With this in mind, we decided to establish four different projects to first teach the next generation of American youth about Japan and its culture, to thereby foster interest in studying the Japanese language, and finally to provide them with opportunities for careers which harness their Japanese language skills. We will now describe the current status of each of the four projects.
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    (1)  “Global Opportunities through Japanese Language” Symposium for Gathering Japanese Language Students from America and Japanese Industry HR Leaders
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    Japanese culture is currently receiving worldwide attention, and the number of Americans studying Japanese has increased.  However, despite their efforts in studying Japanese linguistics even up to the collegiate level, they are finding it difficult to build an image of a career using Japanese, and due to the dearth of information on Japanese-speaking job opportunities, it is hard for these students to make use of those skills in their careers.At the same time, many Japanese corporations, aiming at globalization and having a latent interest in young Americans who can speak Japanese and who like Japan, lack the “know-how” for pragmatically recruiting these individuals.  Therefore, with the theme of “Developing Japanese Speaking Careers for American Students Studying Japanese,” in this symposium industry HR leaders at the forefront of business as well as Japanese linguistics academics will hold a panel discussion. After the panel discussion, we will have a social hour for participants, including the panelists, to exchange information and engage in networking.There has been a strong show of interest from all sides for this symposium, and many high school students and university students in the Washington area have already signed up to participate in this symposium.
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    Date: April 7th (Saturday)
    Time: 8:00am-5:00pm
    Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
    801 Vernon Place NW  Washington, DC 20001*Those interested in a special entrance ticket for sponsors, please refer to the separate Sponsor RSVP information sheet.
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    (2)  Japan-America Society’s “Sakura Matsuri” Language Tent
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    The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC will install a “Let’s Learn Japanese – Nihongo Dekimasu!” tent at the “Sakura Matsuri Street Festival” presented by the Japan-America Society.  Visitors to the tent will be taught about hiragana, katakana and kanji, and will be given the opportunity to play Japanese games and experience first-hand the fascinating aspects of the Japanese language.  Also, there will be a “Conversation Corner” inside the tent where visitors can enjoy talking freely in Japanese.
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    Date: April 14th (Saturday) rain or shine
    Time: 11:00am-6:00pm
    Location: Corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and 12th Street NW, Washington, DC
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    Questions directed to: jaswdc@us-japan.org

    *We will provide Sakura Matsuri tickets to all sponsors of the “bronze class” and above. Those interested, please provide your company name and the number of tickets on the separate Sponsor RSVP information sheet and email the form to Masako_Kano@tma.toyota.com (by April  6th).
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    (3)  Sakura Grant
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    The purpose of the Sakura Grant Program is to support Japanese language and Japanese cultural education in public, private, charter, and magnet schools at the K-12 level in the Washington, DC area (Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia) and in the New York area (New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey).  Grants will range between $1,000 and $3,000 per school, per school year.
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    We have already begun to receive applications this year, and the deadline will be June 30th.  After that, deliberation will begin, and the schools who have won the grant will be notified no later than September 15th.
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    (4)  Japan Bowl Support
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    This year will be the 20th Japan Bowl presented by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC (JASWDC), in which high school students from all over the United States will compete on knowledge of Japan and the Japanese language.  In order to increase the development of this unique event, we will gather financial support to strengthen the structure and operation of this competition. The support will come by way of (1) Japan Bowl image improvement and marketing, (2) network construction between Japan Bowl participants, (3) study guides for participating students and schools, and (4) application content compliance for the AP Japanese Exam*.
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    *The AP Exam is the Advanced Placement Exam, a test given to high school students and governed by the College Board similarly to the SAT. If one achieves a sufficient score on the exam, he or she may use the exam as a certain number of course credits when entering a university.

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  • Landscape Enhancement on Tidal Basin
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    The Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossom trees given by Japan annually bloom beautiful blossoms. Even now, the trees given to Washington, DC in 1912 remain standing there. As of this time, the JCAWF has taken on the role of supporting an initiative of the Japanese government and the Japanese Embassy to enhance the landscape surrounding these cherry blossom trees. To create a Japanese atmosphere, the project will provide such enhancements as constructing a walking path around the trees and placing stones around a lantern given by Japan in 1954 (construction to be finished by spring of 2013).  Ambassador Fujisaki will be presenting these landscape enhancements on April 8th at the Japanese Lantern Lighting Ceremony presented by NCSS (National Conference of State Societies).
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    Date: April 8th (Sunday)
    Time: 2:30pm-4:00pm
    Location: Japanese Stone Lantern at the Tidal Basin at Independence Avenue and 17thStreet SW  Washington, DC*The event is open to the public, however we will provide special seating for “gold class” and higher lever sponsors.  Those interested should notify us at: Masako_Kano@tma.toyota.com.

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  • Nationwide Cherry Blossom Tree Planting Initiative
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    We began this project with the desire to extend the Centennial celebration nationwide.  Supporting an initiative of the Japanese Embassy, the JCAWF has received the cooperation of U.S. forestry organizations and has made plans to plant trees across the U.S. in 36 cities.  Cherry blossom trees will be planted in symbolic areas (state and government offices, city halls, main thoroughfares) in each city, as well as at universities and schools.  In each city, together with organizations such as Japan-America Societies, Japan Chamber of Commerce Associations, and Japan-U.S. groups, we will hold a variety of Japan-related events to accompany the tree plantings.  We intend to increase the number of cities from here out.
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    Please refer to the following page from our website for information on the planting project for each region: http://www.jcawf.org/japanese/program/cherry_blossom_centennial/tree_planting/.
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    In addition, please direct questions regarding this project to the Consulate General in each city.

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  • Suport Cultural Exchange Program
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    For over 20 years, the National Sakura Matsuri has been held as one of the main events in Washington, DC, and each year, during the two weeks of celebration, over one million participants join the festivities.  During that period, attention is focused on Japan in various ways.  In this Centennial year of 2012, the period for this National Cherry Blossom Festival has been extended to five weeks.  In this nationally renowned event, we (JCAWF) will be providing financial support to the organization including the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. (NCBF) and the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS).

 

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