Roundtables

Overview

An indispensable component of all JASC gatherings are the Roundtables, or “RTs” for short. There are 7-8 Roundtables. Each Roundtable consists of up to four Japanese Delegates and up to four American Delegates, and is led by one to two Executive Committee Roundtable Coordinators. We strive to have an equal number of Japanese and American delegates to ensure a balanced exchange of cultural perspectives.

Delegates are a part of a Roundtable in the entire Conference that focuses on a specific topic within the context of U.S.-Japan relations. During the Conference, delegates conduct original, personal research alongside their academic cohorts. Topics have historically addressed a variety of issues, ranging from international affairs and business to mental health and environmental sustainability.

RTs foster a unique setting that encourages delegates to confront their own assumptions, welcome the input of their peers, and breach difficult topics with honesty and sincerity as a means of contributing to a greater academic enterprise. RTs expose delegates to new outlooks, build trust, and foster mutual understanding between RT members. Through these intensive discussions on meaningful subjects, delegates gain a more nuanced understanding of their international counterparts and actively develop real world solutions in the context of the U.S.-Japan relationship
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JASC76 Roundtable Descriptions

Welfare and Ethics:
RT Leaders: Jinglei Zhang, Momomi Sano


Are you passionate about making a positive impact on the world? Are you committed to upholding ethical values while fostering well-being? “Welfare and ethics” is a multifaceted exploration into the profound relationship between individual and collective well-being and the ethical considerations that guide our choices, actions, and policies. This thought-provoking discourse delves into the ethical frameworks that underpin our decisions in healthcare, economics, social justice, environmental sustainability, and beyond. It challenges us to examine the moral imperatives that drive us to address societal disparities, protect human rights, and make choices that contribute to the greater good. In the ever-evolving landscape of academia, it is imperative to ensure that the pursuit of knowledge is not only ethically sound but also takes into account the welfare of all stakeholders involved.

The Welfare and Ethics Roundtable is designed to provide a platform where delegates can explore, analyze, and debate the multifaceted aspects of these fundamental principles. Through our discussion, we will discuss ways to contribute to the evolution of ethical thinking and to foster a deeper understanding of how we can collectively enhance both individual well-being and the welfare of our global community. As part of our RT, you will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful and purpose-driven work.



Japan-US Relations in East Asia:

RT Leaders: Taichi Araki,Krislyn Massey (JASC Intern)

Dictatorships in East Asia, such as China and North Korea, threaten a free and peaceful world by causing various problems, such as the Taiwan incident and the abduction issue. In response, Japan and the U.S. have established a strong military relationship to check their advance into the Pacific Ocean and play a policing role for world peace. On the other hand, the U.S. is becoming increasingly nationalistic, and in Japan there is deep-seated opposition to Article 9 of the Constitution, so it is doubtful that either country would be able to exert substantial restraint through military force in the event of an actual crisis. In light of the international situation described above, this round table will discuss the ideals of US-Japan relations and practical measures to achieve them toward peace in East Asia.



Social Movements and Human Behaviors:

RT Leaders: Mana Sakamoto, Kathleen Hikaru Buck

We live in a society that is layered with many beliefs, which we frequently take for granted but have a substantial impact on how we view ourselves, other people, and the world we inhabit. This roundtable will discuss how people's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are shaped and influenced by the social context, with an emphasis on the difference between internal human transformation and extrinsic repercussions of social change. We will primarily approach our discussion from historical (e.g. internment camps during/after WW2, Sugamo prison), political (e.g. protest), cultural (e.g. text comparison, nuance in different languages), and structural (e.g. social recognition vs. individual needs) perspectives; we aim to achieve a better understanding through different socio-psychological theories like cognitive dissonance theory, and concepts surrounding individualism and collectivism. We'll also take a look at some relevant case studies that give us a multidisciplinary framework for critically analyzing the variations in social behaviors between the US and Japan; What role did the social nature of mind and self play historically? To what extent does the individual human mind influence the collective behaviors in society? What were the forces that have driven the interaction between individuals and society? Regardless of your interest in psychology, sociology, or history, we hope that this roundtable will be the quest for you to explore individuality and authenticity in the modern world.



Social Entrepreneurship:

RT Leaders: Yuki Tanizaki, Taoto Fukui

As social movements have continuously increased in the past few decades, the active need for change is more relevant than ever. Specifically issues of gender, race and more have been prevalent in the 21st century. With the internet’s heavy influence, the emerging importance of DEI among consumers has pushed businesses to prioritize these concepts in their organizations. How can businesses feel motivated to resolve these issues rather than feel obligated due to the consumer’s demands?

In America where entrepreneurship is encouraged, small businesses have always flourished and even experienced a substantial surge during the time of the pandemic, COVID-19. Comparingly, Japan’s neutral, or almost negative stance on entrepreneurship deters the growth of business owners. How does this difference between the two countries impact their respective societies?

Combining these two current topics, the goal of the Social Entrepreneurship roundtable is to create a space for the future generation of professionals who are passionate and want to create change for the future. We aim to examine the role of social entrepreneurs who undertake endeavors aimed at addressing the pervading injustices in society, without being confined by existing frameworks. Through case studies of social entrepreneurs in both Japan and the United States, we will explore why entrepreneurship is a catalyst for change. We hope that the delegates can attend the discussions with an open mind to share and discover ideas about these ongoing conversations. How can businesses exercise corporate social responsibility (CSR) while also maintaining profit? How can entrepreneurs develop a business that has a positive impact on a social cause? We hope that this roundtable will collaborate and work together to become the entrepreneurs of our generation.



Culture, Arts and Technology:
RT Leader: Ka Yan Tam, Tomohiro Koganeyama

Digital platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, serve as boundless canvases for digital creators to transcend geographical limitations and share their creativity with global audiences. Our experiences are no longer just bound to ones by physical proximity, but instead, it is extended into the digital community. In this digital age, we are the most connected we’ve ever been. The traditional notion of the 'starving artist' is giving way to the rise of the 'influencer’ title, where artistic expression can be monetized and celebrated.

The fusion of culture, arts, and technology represents more than just a shift in artistic mediums; it mirrors our collective consciousness. At the heartbeat of the digital landscape are ‘trends.’ Trends are a result of our influences and community cultures. Social media empowers digital marketing to decipher these patterns, offering profound insights into our evolving societal tapestry. As technology advances, AI and NFTs challenge established artistic norms, sparking vital discussions about art monitoring and the regulations shaping the fusion of culture, arts, and technology. The vast digital canvas holds boundless possibilities, yet it raises ethical and societal concerns about technology's future impact.

In the context of the ever-evolving dynamics of US-Japan relations, these shared digital spaces offer avenues for cultural exchange, innovation, and strengthening of bonds between nations in an increasingly interconnected world.



Expression and Limitation:

RT Leaders: William Sim-Oliver, Natsune Shida


From before we can remember, we have been expressing ourselves. Even at the beginning, we did so not just for material reasons such as the want for food, warmth, or rest, but also for more complex, existential ones.

When we express ourselves, we send something out into the world. Regardless of the motive, shape, or size of the expression, it does not always go exactly as we intend. Various limitations, such as differences in language, the opinions of those receiving or affected by the expression, and laws or societal rules, alter expression.  Despite these difficulties, however, it’s necessary—we want to express ourselves, need to express ourselves, need to connect with others and the world around us. Expression is fundamental to our humanity, to the human experience.

In this roundtable, we will enter into thoughtful conversation towards sincere connection and true understanding. We will focus on human expression's existence and the things that limit it, asking philosophical questions and considering topics both academic and everyday such as: What is freedom of expression? How do regulations impact artistic works? Comparing the differences in expression between Japan and America through literature and art. Through discussing these topics, we will discover new modes of expression in the world and in ourselves, finding that they are often limited in ways we can barely comprehend or restricted in ways that are all too familiar.

For us, discussion is valuable in and of itself; through discussion we are able to refine our own thoughts and gain new perspectives. We hope to create a conversation with delegates who have an intense desire to communicate, to question and to understand. As a roundtable, we ourselves will become an example, an experiment for the genuine expression and its complex limitations we are examining—this is our vision.



Environmental Economics and Energy Policy:

RT Leaders: Nozomi Miyamoto, Shintaro Tomizawa


Now, more than ever, we are experiencing the impacts of climate change and global warming and accordingly, have realized the urgent need for decarbonization. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries all over the world have been working towards carbon neutrality through various technological developments such as biomass energy generation, hydrogen and ammonia fuels for energy storage and transfer, and next-generation nuclear power. Even so, none of these have reached any level of economic feasibility and achieving carbon neutrality by the target year of 2050 seems unlikely as most countries, including Japan and America, still rely heavily on fossil fuels. At the same time, the implementation of policies like carbon taxation and shifts in the energy market have created additional economic stresses and a widening disparity between the Global North and the Global South. Thus, the future requires a realistic solution to the complexities and challenges of decarbonization—one that we must create together as citizens of the world.

As the Environmental Economics and Energy Policy (3EP) roundtable, we aim to have realistic discussions regarding the adoption of policies that balance the economy with the environment in this context of decarbonization. These discussions, in turn, will be aided by the following:
  1. Active Input—focusing on primary sources to have a better understanding of the complexity of decarbonization and the technologies, systems, and policies that work towards it.
  2. Guest lectures by experts in the environmental, economic, and energy sectors and field trips to governmental agencies, university institutes, and private corporations working with the realities of this global challenge.

By the end of the conference, we hope to create a realistic solution together as a roundtable to attain decarbonization while also maintaining environmental and economic sustainability.