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Furman to host international symposium on Japan March 25-26

Last updated March 18, 2014

By Furman News

japan-flagKenichiro Sasae, Japan’s current Ambassador to the United States, and Michael Armacost, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, will be the keynote speakers when Furman University hosts a two-day international symposium, “Japan in the 21st Century,” March 25-26.

The symposium will take place in the Younts Conference Center on the Furman campus.  All presentations are free and open to the public.

Between 300 and 400 people are expected to attend the two-day event, which will explore the changing relationship between Japan, its Asian neighbors and the United States, as well as domestic and economic policies in Japan. The symposium is sponsored by Furman’s Department of Asian Studies and the Riley Institute at Furman, with generous support from the Japan Foundation.

“What’s going on in Asia is quite relevant to the United States,” said Furman Asian Studies Professor and Chair Shusuke Yagi. “After World War II, Japan became the strongest U.S. ally in Asia during the Cold War. But now because of the rise of China as a superpower, the power dynamic in Asia is changing and, consequently, the relationship between our countries is facing some unprecedented challenges.”

Armacost, who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1989 to 1993, will speak Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. on “United States and Japan Relations.”

Sasae, who was named Ambassador of Japan to the United States in November 2012, will present the conference’s closing address, “Japan and the Future of Asia Pacific,” Wednesday, March 26 at 7 p.m.

Armacost will also moderate a panel discussion titled “Challenges and Opportunities: Issues Confronting Japan” on Wednesday at 4 p.m.  The panel will include internationally recognized experts Takashi Terada of Doshisha University in Japan, Edward Lincoln of Columbia University and George Washington University, and Kay Shimizu of Columbia University.

Sasae was appointed the Ambassador of Japan to the United States in November 2012 after serving as the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan in Tokyo. He previously served as special adviser to Sadako Ogata, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, and as Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister of Japan. Before becoming vice minister, he served as Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau, Director-General of the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau, Deputy Foreign Minister and G8 Political Director as well as Chief Japanese Negotiator to the Six-Party Talks.

Armacost is a Shorenstein Distinguished Fellow with the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and, from 1995 to 2002, served as president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute. He previously served as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to Japan and the Philippines. He is the author of three books and earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in public law and government from Columbia University.

Furman boasts one of the strongest Asian Studies departments at a liberal arts college in the nation. The department is comprised of 15 faculty members teaching more than 60 courses focused primarily on China, Japan and South Asia, and it also offers 13 innovative study away or exchange programs to China, Japan and India. Furman will host a national conference, “The Future Direction of Japanese Studies,” in 2015.

The speakers’ bios can be found online, and a complete schedule is below.  For more information, call the Riley Institute at (864) 294-3546 or email


Tuesday, March 25

7 p.m.,“United States and Japan Relations.” Keynote address by Michael Armacostformer U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Wednesday, March 26

4 p.m., “Key Issues Confronting Japan.”  Panel discussion moderated by Michael Armacost. Discussants include Professors Takashi Terada on “Japan and Asian Integration,” Edward Lincoln of Columbia University and George Washington University on “Is Abenomics Working?” and Kay Shimizu of Columbia University on “Japan and China: Political Challenges and Economic Opportunities.”

7 p.m., “Japan and the Future of Asia Pacific.” Closing address by Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States.

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