It was here in the late 1990s that the Kyoto Protocol on Clean Air was signed by dignitaries from around the world (with one notable exception...).
The warm opening ceremony, with a welcome extended by the Kyoto President of JAS, Mr. Junichi Murata, set the tone for the day. He spoke of how the auspicious relationship between Japan and America had been strained lately, not only by the two countries themselves, but by China and Korea as well, and how important it is to preserve what has been a strong, international friendship decades now. In spite of Japan's "waining confidence" in the international arena, their economy remains 250% larger than China, in spite of the much-publicized economic development taking place in China presently.
the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Kazuo Inamori, Chairman Emeritus of Kyocera Corporation addressed the forum. He spoke of how post-WW2 relations had been forged, not by sheer strength or willpower, but "soft action," a useful, international strategy whereby understanding and persuasion can be brought about. He spoke of San Ren (the revolution in China) who in 1945, espoused the idea of "returning virtue for your hatred."
Of course, the presence of U.S. military bases in Japan figured heavily in the discussion. The delicate balance between being a "deterrent" and a "burden" has been a challenge for some time now. For example, Guam, a U.S. strategic base, is also a favorite vacation destination for many Japanese.
The lamentable stance of recent U.S. unilateral international policy was discussed. The fact that the US has been unbeatble, even invincible, does not make it omnipotent, and does not take away the fact that the U.S. still needs alliances.
The question of whether the U.S. should be involved at all in regional Asian political forums was addressed also. For example, to date, the U.S. has ignored the heated topic of Taiwan's independence vs. Japan and China's claim to Taiwan. Still, China feels envy towards America's technological and economic development, which casts a favaorable light on democracy. And, although China is not 'expansionist,' it's policy of not being transparent with it's policies has worried the U.S. and Japan. Finally, since the Olympics are scheduled to be held in China in 2008, prognosticators believe that China will maintain the statsu quo until at least then.
After the forums, a warm and colorful reception was held at the Conference Center, complete with "geisha" greeters, and many "Kodak moments."
The second day was comprised of a Cultural Forum at the Kongo Noh Theater entitled, "The Spirit of Japanese Tradition, " and in the afternoon, another public forum entitled "Using New Technology to Create New Business Models, " held at the Kyoto Research Park.
hashi.org wishes to thank the organizers, participants, and the Japan-American Societies that made this inspiring event possible.