About the Japan-America Student Conference

Overview

The first Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) convened in 1934. Concerned by the deteriorating relationship between their two governments, open-minded and forward-thinking college students from the United States and Japan gathered to foster friendship and promote mutual understanding through the exchange of diverse perspectives. While the U.S.-Japan relationship has evolved dramatically since the Conference’s founding ninety years ago, its mission has remained unchanged: to foster peace through people-to-people diplomacy and empower the next generation of U.S.-Asia leaders. Today, JASC brings together an equal number of Japanese and American college students to participate in an academically rigorous and culturally immersive three-week-long summer program.

Over the course of the Conference, JASC participants (referred to as “delegates”) live, travel, and conduct peer-reviewed research together. Through the open and earnest discussion of sensitive topics, delegates develop a more nuanced understanding of their international counterparts’ points of view, all while building lifelong friendships. This personal growth is paired with ample opportunities for professional development as well. Delegates have the opportunity to sit on panels alongside preeminent academics and distinguished professionals, while the very structure of the Conference inherently allows students to develop hard and soft skills including (but not limited to) cross-cultural communication, leadership acumen, interpersonal networking, and collaborative research processes.

By the end of this intensive program, “JASCers” gain confidence, insights, and experiences that leave them prepared to join the ranks of the motivated problemsolvers and policy visionaries dedicated to realizing a bright future for the U.S.-Japan relationship in an increasingly globalized and interconnected society.


Program Structure

JASC distinguishes itself from other student exchange programs in that it is entirely student-run and student-led in nature. At the conclusion of each Conference, delegates elect Executive Committee members (ECs) in nature. At the conclusion of each Conference, delegates elect Executive Committee members (ECs) from amongst their peers to continue the JASC legacy and begin preparations for the next year ’s gathering. ECs are responsible for managing all aspects of the Conference, from determining the overarching Conference theme and sites to overseeing the micrologistics of delegate lodging, dining, and transportation. The Executive Committee receives guidance and financial assistance from International Student Conferences (ISC), a non-proit organization located in Washington, D.C. that oversees preparations for JASC.


Program Impact and Legacy

JASC irrefutably impacts delegates at the professional, personal, and academic levels alike. In a survey of 70th JASC American participants , respondents overwhelmingly agreed that JASC allowed them to improve upon their cross-cultural communication skills (80%) and ultimately left them with an increased understanding of U.S.-Japan relations (75%). Furthermore, the majority of respondents agreed that JASC allowed them to build lifelong friendships (85%) while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to develop professional leadership skills including public speaking, establishing goals, and working collaboratively (80%).

JASC’ s transformative nature and its ability to prepare the next generation of leaders in the field of U.S.-Japan relations has not gone unrecognized. In its 80th anniversary year in 2014, JASC received special recognition for its contribution to the U.S-Japan alliance in a joints tatement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in which JASC was referred to as an “indispensable” bilateral exchange program between the two nations. After having participated in the conference, many JASC alumni have gone on to distinguish themselves in business, academia and government. Notable among them are: Kiichi Miyazawa, the late Prime Minister of Japan, who participated in the 1939 and 1940 Conferences; Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, who participated in the 1951 Conference; and Kurt Tong, U.S. Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, who participated in the 1984 and 1985 Conferences .