March 23, 2012
I am pleased to wish you all a healthy New Year.
Thank you so very much for all the support you provided for the projects surrounding the Cherry Blossom Centennial. Thanks to you, widespread praise was directed to the Centennial celebrations which this JCAW Foundation as well as the JCAW were able to carry out with the cooperation of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of NY and the Japanese Embassy. I wish to again express my appreciation for your cooperation, without which we could not have produced such a successful Centennial.
The Centennial projects which you are already with somewhat familiar with are outlined below with updates through December 2012. We will continue to convey information regarding the continuing projects via our newsletters and website (www.jcawf.org), thus please refer to these resources. The parties involved will continue to strive to best complete these projects, and we are grateful for your continued support and cooperation.
President of the JCAW Foundation
UPDATES ON EACH PROJECT
In this project, in partnership with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, our Foundation has launched the “Mansfield Foundation Task Force for Shared Progress and Prosperity,” laying out a framework for a contemporary U.S.-Japan vision and focused on cultivating young professionals from the private, academic, and governmental sectors.
Last year on June 6th, the Task Force members held a seminar at Capitol Hill to publicly share the interim draft of their vision for U.S.-Japan relations. This past November, this vision was issued both in Japanese and in English as a publication entitled “Crafting a Contemporary U.S.-Japan Vision.” This vision includes forward-looking strategic initiatives through which the two countries can contribute to mutual economic strength and vitality. The publication lays out specific initiatives from each of the 7 members of the Task Force.
Japanese Version: http://mansfieldfdn.org/japanese-2/
English Version: http://mansfieldfdn.org/program/dialogues/u-s-japan-task-force/
Between November 29th and December 5th, 2012, Task Force members together with Senior Advisor Ambassador Tom Schieffer traveled to six cities (Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Kumamoto) in Japan. During their visit to each city, they not only had the opportunity to share their visions with the government as well as the media, but also to hold public seminars at local universities as well as publicly roll out their vision through a series of seminars. Aggressive and productive discussions about US-Japan relations were held during these visits.
This project was successfully completed by publishing the vision in both languages, and holding seminars and events in Washington, DC as well as in the various cities of Japan. However, the true benefits will be seen in the future generation of Americans that research Japan with the support that we have conferred. Together with all of our members, we would like to continue to discuss how to further develop what has arisen from the intellectual seeds planted during the celebrations surrounding the Centennial of the Cherry Blossoms Tree gift.
Mansfield Foundation Official Website:
Mansfield Foundation Task Force on Crafting a Contemporary U.S.-Japan Vision for Shared Progress and Prosperity
Cultivating young Americans who speak Japanese is becoming crucial in striving to support the people who will build future US-Japan relations and to strengthen the foundation of this partnership. At the JCAW Foundation, we have developed 4 separate projects to cover various elements of Japanese language education. These projects are designed to introduce Japan and its culture to young Americans who will usher in the next generation, to transform that knowledge into a desire to learn the Japanese language, and then to provide them with the opportunities to consider careers utilizing their Japanese linguistic skills. Below you will find information regarding progress within these four projects.
① Symposium of “Global Opportunities through Japanese Language”
American students who study Japanese often face the vague uncertainty that “We spend so much time learning Japanese, but we can’t see what opportunities lay ahead.” Such uncertainty causes much confusion and disruption. At the same time, many Japanese corporations seeking globalization have a latent interest in young Americans that “like Japan” or “can speak Japanese,” but these corporations often lack the specific know-how for pragmatic recruitment.
Seeking to assist in resolving this situation, on April 7, 2102, we hosted a symposium entitled “Global Opportunities through Japanese Language” to provide an exchange of information and networking opportunities for students that study Japanese, Japanese language teachers, and Japanese corporate representatives. The symposium drew more than 300 students, professors, and corporate representatives. Throughout the day-long symposium, there were interesting presentations, panel discussions, and networking events which generated lively discussions.
Overcoming the barrier between the government, private, and academic sectors, this symposium received praise from the many participating students and professors, and at the end there were calls for another symposium to be held. Such fervor could only signify that this kind of event, with its opportunities to exchange information and become linked with the business world, was exactly the kind of event sought out by students and educators. Due to the cooperation of all participants, this symposium was a smooth success. We will continue to search for new ways to promote information exchange between students, professors, and corporations.
For more detailed information related to this symposium, please visit the following site (Japanese only):
The atmosphere of the symposium can be seen here (video).
② The Installment of the Japanese Language Tent at the Cherry Blossom Festival Sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC
On ground of the “Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival” sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC (JASW) April 14, 2012, the JCAW Foundation produced a tent where the audience can experience Japanese Language. The tent held the sign “Let’s Learn Japanese 日本語できます！” At this tent, volunteers with matching T-shirts showing “日本語できます” introduced the multiple Japanese alphabets as well as Japanese games to festival attendees, allowing them to experience fascinating aspects of the Japanese language.
Thanks to the zealous approach of our volunteers, the tent was inundated with visitors all day long. We are happy to have had for the first time an area focused specifically on Japanese language exposure, and the tent visitors exceeded our expectations (reaching over 5000 in number). We were able to gather more than 800 submissions for the lottery to win free Japanese language classes at the JASW, and the line for the lottery never once was empty.
Due to this overwhelming feedback, we are planning to have the same tent this year at the Sakura Matsuri (scheduled for April 13, 2013). This year as well, we hope to deepen many visitors’ interest in, and understanding of, the Japanese language.
For more detailed information related to this tent, please visit the following site (Japanese only):
③ Sakura Grant
The purpose of the Sakura Grant program is to support the K-12 level in public, private, charter, and magnet schools that provide Japanese language and/or Japanese cultural education to students in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
Last Spring, information about this grant was sent to approximately 200 such schools, and applications were received until June, 2012. In September, 31 schools were chosen to receive the grant, and these winners were announced after careful review by the grant committee. In October,2012, the grants were distributed to all 31 schools shown below.
We plan to continue this Sakura Grant for the next 5 years. Inauguration of this Grant was announced at the National Japanese Language Academic Conference held in Philadelphia in November, 2102 and the Grant received support and appreciation from many of the attending professors. In our upcoming newsletters, we plan to share some of the feedback from schools and academics who have received the Grant.
④ Support of the Japan Bowl
Sponsored by the JASW, the Japan Bowl is an academic competition that tests the Japan-related knowledge base of high school students throughout the United States, and it has now reached its 20th year. With our gaze set on further developing this unique event, we have begun financial sponsorship of this event to further strengthen the infrastructure as well as the management.
With this support, the JASW has produced a promotion video for the Japan Bowl in order to market the Japan Bowl and establish its brand image. Please see the link below. These video will be utilized in various ways to introduce the Japan Bowl.
Please see the Video Links Below:
Supporting Japanese Language Education (English)
Video Links (Continues)
Students and Teachers talk about the Japan Bowl
National Japan Bowl Documentary
At the Washington, DC Tidal Basin where beautiful Cherry Blossom trees bloom every year, there still stand many of the original Cherry Blossom trees given by Japan in 1912. With the support of the Japanese government, the Japanese Embassy, and others, the JCAW Foundation will financially support the Landscape Enhancement project for the Tidal Basin conducted under the supervision of the U.S. National Park Service as well as the National Mall Foundation.
During the Lantern Lighting Ceremony sponsored by the National Conference of State Societies April 8, 2012, our former Ambassador Fujisaki announced this Landscape Enhancement Project for the Tidal Basin. In order to create a Japanese atmosphere, a path is being formed around the Cherry Blossom trees, and the area around the Japanese lanterns given by Japan to the U.S. in 1954 is being decorated with stones.
This project began with the idea of planting Cherry Blossom trees not just in the capital of Washington, DC, but all across America. Moving forward with the initiative of the Japanese Embassy, the JCAWF has obtained the cooperation of U.S. forestry organizations and has made plans to plant trees in various localities across the U.S. By the end of December of last year, 11 cities had received the tree planting grant, and currently 6 more cities are under consideration (please see below). The Cherry Blossom trees are to be planted in symbolic locations (state and government offices, city halls, main thoroughfares) in each city, as well as at universities and schools. The numbers of the trees are expected to increase.
For over 20 years, the National Cherry Blossom Festival 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, various aspects of Japan are introduced to the visitors. Last year, during the Centennial celebration, the period for this National Cherry Blossom Festival spanned five weeks, from March 20th to April 27, 2012. In order to enhance this festival, the JCAWF provided financial support to the sponsoring bodies of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. (NCBF) and the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS). We plan to continue this effort this year.
Photo provided by NCBF