January 15, 2014
I would like to wish you a happy and healthy New Year!
Last year was a momentous year for the JCAW Foundation. The Tidal Basin Landscape Enhancement Project, undertaken as part of the 2012 Cherry Blossom Centennial Commemoration Project, was completed and a commemorative ceremony was held in November. While it took more time to complete than originally planned, thanks to the efforts of the institutions involved, the area around the Cherry Blossom Planting Monument and the Stone Lantern has been organized into the style of a Japanese garden. This site had not received much attention in the past, but we believe that, along with the cherry blossoms on the banks of the Potomac, it will be cherished for generations as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Japan. I invite you to visit at the time of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
If the cherry blossoms are a symbol of U.S.-Japan friendship, American children learning Japanese are a bridge connecting U.S.-Japan friendship. The JCAWF has undertaken Japanese language support as part of the Cherry Blossom Centennial Commemorative Project, but we intend to further enhance the substance this year.
I am pleased to submit this progress report as of the end of December, including on our other activities. We at the Foundation intend to continue our efforts, so we ask for your continued support and cooperation this year.
Finally, I would like to wish you all health and happiness in the coming year.
President, JCAW Foundation
REPORTS ON INDIVIDUAL PROJECTS
The education of Japanese-speaking Americans is an extremely important issue for nurturing the next generation of individuals who will take on the responsibility for U.S.-Japan relations and for strengthening the foundation of the U.S.-Japan partnership. With this in mind, we decided to establish multiple projects that together form a single sequence. By supporting Japanese education in the U.S. in various ways, we seek to have young Americans learn about Japan and its culture, foster interest in Japanese language study, and ultimately provide them with opportunities to consider careers that utilize their Japanese language skills. We will now report on the current status of these projects.
① Sakura Grant
The Sakura Grant Program was established 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, Virginia, and Delaware) and in the New York area (New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey). We would like to briefly explain the project’s progress. In the spring of 2013, we sent grant information to relevant area schools with an application deadline of June. After consideration by the Grant Committee in September, 31 schools were identified as award recipients and notified. Beginning in October, the funds were sent to the schools below.
The Sakura Grant program began in 2012 and we intend to continue accepting applications for five years through 2016. The program has received much attention from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ), and we have received many thanks from Japanese teachers. In future issues of this newsletter, we intend to include feedback from grant recipient schools and teachers regarding specific uses of the funds.
The program was also featured in the third meeting of the Expert Conference on the Promotion and Spread of the Japanese Language Abroad, held on May 17 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Specifically, it was raised as a topic within the keynote report by Ms. Misako Ito (Director of the Japan Foundation’s Japan Cultural Center in Los Angeles). Ms. Ito claimed that, “Partnership between government, the private sector and academia is necessary to accelerate interest in Japanese education in the U.S.” Further she stated that, “Traditionally, Japanese corporations in the U.S. have mainly used their financial support for community service, but that is now shifting toward Japanese language education support,” citing our Sakura Grant program. This means that this program was cited as a leading example of Japan’s informational and cultural diplomacy, and we believe it signifies that our decision to include Japanese language education support as part of the Cherry Blossom Centennial Commemoration Project was the right one. Building on this, we intend to undertake this project with the recognition that we are playing a guiding role in Japan’s informational and cultural diplomacy.
(Reference) Expert Conference on the Promotion and Spread of the Japanese Language Abroad (Third Meeting Summary)
② Japan-America Society of Washington DC “Sakura Matsuri” Language Tent
We will again set up a “Let’s Learn Japanese – Nihongo Dekimasu!” tent as part of the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC (JASW) Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Street Festival on April 12 this year. As in previous years, volunteers in the tent wearing t-shirts reading “Nihongo Dekimasu (I Can Speak Japanese)” will teach visitors about the origins of hiragana, katakana and kanji, calligraphy and Japanese games. By enabling people to experience first-hand how fun the Japanese language can be, we hope many of them will deepen their interest and understanding. We have already begun preparations for this year’s exhibit.
The Japanese Language Tent at last year’s Sakura Matsuri Street Festival
③ Japanese Language Education Symposium, Seminar
We continue to consider holding symposiums or seminars to create opportunities for information exchange and networking between Japanese language students, Japanese language teachers and Japanese corporations. Though such events were not held last year, we hope to do so this year.
In concert with the initiative of the Government of Japan and the Japanese Embassy in the U.S., the JCAWF has extended substantial financial support to the Tidal Basin Landscape Enhancement Project. We are pleased to report that this project was completed at the end of last year.
This project was implemented under the supervision of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) and administered by the Trust for the National Mall (TFNM) as follows:
Nov. 2012: The Landscape Enhancement Project’s detailed design was approved by the relevant authorities.
Apr. 7, 2013: The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Lantern Lighting Ceremony under the auspices of the National Conference of State Societies.
Nov. 8, 2013: The completion ceremony was held and it was attended by Ambassador and Mrs. Kenichiro Sasae, NPS Superintendent Robert Vogel, TFNM President Caroline Cunningham, JCAW President Tsunehiko Yanagihara and Mr. Hoichi Kurisu, who designed and supervised the construction of the project.
The completion ceremony was covered by both the Japanese and U.S. media.
Through this Landscape Enhancement Project, the area around the Japanese Stone Lantern has transformed itself as the “Japanese Lantern Plaza” (tentative name) and will serve as a symbol in the U.S. capital of the bond between the United States and Japan, providing a peaceful corner for Tidal Basin visitors to reflect on the friendship between Japan and the United States.
We would like to take this opportunity to once again express our heartfelt gratitude to all those companies and individuals who have extended generous support to advance this project.
This project was begun with the purpose of broadening the Cherry Blossom Centennial events to other areas beyond Washington, DC and across the country. In support of an initiative of the Japanese Embassy, and with the cooperation of U.S. tree-planting organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants for planting cherry trees to 20 cities (as of the end of December, 2013). One organization is currently under consideration (please see below). Cherry blossom trees have been planted in city landmark areas (state capitols, city halls, main thoroughfares) proposed by each group, as well as on university campuses and other educational facilities.
For the Cherry Blossom 100th Anniversary National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2012, the JCAWF entered into a partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Inc. (NCBF) and the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS). We hope to maintain this relationship, and we are planning to co-host various events for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival. For example, with the completion of the above-mentioned Tidal Basin Landscape Enhancement Project around the Japanese Stone Lantern, the Lantern Lighting Ceremony should become an even more wonderful event symbolizing U.S.-Japan relations. The JCAWF intends to continue to promote the appeal of Japan to as many Americans as possible through cultural exchange events unique to Washington DC, such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
With cooperation from the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, and with the objective of establishing a future vision for U.S.-Japan relations, this project involved the creation of the “Mansfield Task Force for Shared Advancement and Prosperity” ( “Task Force”) centered on a new generation of American experts on Japan from industry, government, and academia.
On June 6th of last year, the Task Force held an “Interim Presentation” on Capitol Hill giving an outline of its vision for U.S.-Japan relations. The Task Force’s vision was organized into a proposal entitled “Crafting a Contemporary U.S.-Japan Vision,” and last November the proposal was presented in both Japanese and English. The proposal discussed “taking advanced and strategic measures to make the economies of Japan and the U.S. stronger and more vibrant,” and each of the 7 members of the Task Force included his or her specific proposal.
Japanese Version: http://mansfieldfdn.org/japanese-2/
English Version: http://mansfieldfdn.org/program/dialogues/u-s-japan-task-force/
From November 29th to December 5th of last year, the Task Force delegation (including former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer) visited Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kumamoto to present this proposal. In each city, the Task Force held discussions with political and business leaders and with the media through open seminars at universities where they engaged in lively and constructive debates on the future of U.S.-Japan relations.
See the Mansfield Foundation Task Force Website:
Mansfield Foundation Task Force on Crafting a Contemporary U.S.-Japan Vision for Shared Progress and Prosperity http://mansfieldfdn.org/program/dialogues/u-s-japan-task-force/
At the end of last year, with the completion of the proposal and the presentations held in Washington, DC and around Japan, this project supporting the next generation of Japan research experts came to a successful conclusion.
Thanks to all of your efforts, the U.S.-Japan Intellectual Exchange Support portion of the Cherry Blossom Centennial Project has concluded. However, the “seeds” we have sown inspired by the “cherry blossoms” have begun to grow and steadily continue their development. The Foundation intends to continue to explore ways in which we can nurture them.