Former ambassador Shuji Shimokoji

Ambassador Shuji Shimokoji, former Ambassador of Japan to Panama and Venezuela, led a panel where more than a hundred University students were in attendance Friday, March 18. The Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan Event was hosted by the Asian Studies Program and sponsored by Japan’s prime minister in hopes of strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Japan for the future.

Shimokoji focused the educational seminar on further deepening understanding about Japan, bringing awareness to the strong economic ties and promoting business, international education and cultural exchange between Japan and the Midwest.

“We are traveling across the United States to invite Americans to Japan, we want to bring awareness to the importance of the exchange of diplomacy, as well as serious matters like the security cooperation expansion,” said Shimokoji.

The seminar was geared towards the history between America and Japan in relation to trade and how they have benefitted one another in their past and present.

Shimokoji briefly introduced his panel and then each panelist came to the podium with passion and personal experience on Japanese culture and U.S. relations.

The panel consisted of five ordinary citizens of Japan who came from different backgrounds, each bringing culture, personal examples and experiences of their beliefs and culture in relation to the U.S. and Japan allies.

Shimokoji said, “The United States and (the) Japanese work together and benefit one another through their economy. They must work together for safety and security issues.”

Hirokichi Nadachi shared how the U.S. and Japan became close allies and about their shared values through his personal experiences.

“Together we can strive to improve our world,” said Nadachi.

Toshiyuki Miyaki expressed the evolution and development of the U.S. and Japan’s current relationship along with the importance of that relationship improving, and how each country has helped one another and joined together.

College student Saho Miyashita talked about her culture, community and her hometown in a small rural area in Japan. She brought awareness of the decreasing population and it’s stagnant increase of youth supporting the elders who have become the majority of her town.

Takaki Minamota talked about America’s and Japan’s formal way of greeting. He shared a personal example from meeting his first American friend from Ohio that taught him how to greet with a handshake and he shared how bowing is Japan’s greeting and viewed as polite courtesy and respect.

The discussion ended with an array of questions from the audience and ended with a mixer.

The consulate general of Japan in Detroit, Mizuki Eguchi, shared ideas of how people who want to learn more can get involved and learn more about the Japanese culture. A few of these programs are the Japanese Exchange Training program and the MEXT scholarship, which is made for people who want to be researchers. All information can be found on the consulate general of Japan in Detroit’s website.

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