By Courtney Such, News Editor
Furman will once again play host to prominent world leaders this week, bringing in current and former international ambassadors for a two-day international symposium titled “Japan in the 21st Century.” The symposium, which has received CLP status, will run March 25 and 26.
Dr. Shusuke Yagi, Chair of the Asian Studies Department, has worked to put the program together for the past six months with the Riley Institute. The symposium will feature prominent speakers who will discuss topics related to the political-economy of Japan and Asia and how the United States’ relationship with the region will likely change in the coming years.
“The info and knowledge that students have on Asia is very limited so this is a great opportunity to know and understand what is going on there that will affect their future life, not just international life,” Yagi said.
Michael Armacost, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, will open the symposium with his keynote speech, “United States and Japan Relations,” on Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in the Younts Conference Center.
Armacost also has a special connection to Furman: his niece graduated from the university in the 1990s as a philosophy major.
Wednesday’s events begin at 4 p.m., also in the Younts Conference Center, with a panel discussion titled, “Challenges and Opportunities: Issues Confronting Japan,” featuring prominent scholars and moderated by Armacost. The evening will conclude with a closing keynote speech by Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s current ambassador to the U.S., titled “Japan and the Future of Asia Pacific” at 7 p.m.
“Asia is now, not just in terms of population but economically and politically, the most vital and most rapidly growing area that affects politically and economically the entire American life,” Yagi said, arguing for the importance of the symposium’s topics.
“If you look around, many things are made in China, Japan, and Korea. Now if something happens, say, if China decided not to export anything to the U.S., it affects American people’s life. What are addressed in this international symposium are not just about Asia but will affect the future life of students.”
The Asian Studies Department and the Riley Institute are expecting between 300 and 400 people to attend the symposium, and all events are open to students and the Greenville community and are free of charge. Yagi is even expecting past students from across the country to attend.
The Asian Studies Department received $430,000 from the Japan Foundation in 2010 to put on events like this week’s symposium. Furman matched the amount, making it possible to educate students on such topics. This is the first symposium on Japan that the university has hosted. Next fall the Asian Studies Department will host a national conference titled “The Future Directions of Japanese Studies.”
“The importance to Furman students is this: although the title says ‘Japan in the 21st Century,’ it is not just about Japan,” Yagi said. “Japan still seeks support from the U.S., but from American perspective, it’s not that simple, because the American government has to think about how to deal with China and how to be supportive with Japan [and South Korea].”
“And, it’s three CLPs,” he added.