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Tokyo, Japan — Travel Log
(Nov 13 - 14, 2006)
U.S. Higher Education Delegation to Asia

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U.S. Higher Education Delegation to Asia
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Leading an historic delegation on a three-country Asian tour, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, joined by Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powell and twelve U.S. university presidents, set out to highlight the U.S. as a premier destination for study abroad educational opportunities. Their goal is to emphasize the desire of the U.S. government and its colleges and universities to increase collaborations with governments, educational institutions and businesses in other nations.

The delegation made their first stop in Kyoto, Japan, a cultural center recognized for the quality of its higher education institutions. During their time in Kyoto, the delegation met with leaders from universities in Kyoto and Osaka. This meeting allowed the delegation and the Japanese university leaders to discuss a variety of international higher education issues of interest in both the U.S. and Japan. Further, it underscored the importance of collaboration between the U.S. and Japan—emphasizing two-way student exchange programs.

Following their stop in Kyoto, the delegation traveled by "Bullet Train" to Tokyo. The Tokyo program began with a meeting hosted by Minister Ibuke, the newly appointed Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. During this meeting, Secretary Spellings and Assistant Secretary of State Powell emphasized the desire of the U.S. to work together with the Japanese government and institutions of higher learning to improve education in both countries and strengthen partnerships and exchanges in the future.

The delegation then participated in a symposium at Waseda University, attended by more than 250 students from various Japanese colleges and universities, faculty and members of the academic community. The delegation was joined by Dr. Katsuhiko Shirai, president of Waseda University, and other university leadership for this event, where they addressed students' questions on educational exchange opportunities in the U.S. and Japan. Dr. William Brody, president of The Johns Hopkins University, spoke about the value of educational exchanges—not only for the students who study abroad, but also for the students of other cultures and backgrounds with whom they interact both in and out of the classroom during their experience. Secretary Spellings and Assistant Secretary of State Powell followed, engaging students in dialogue emphasizing educational opportunities at the thousands of higher education institutions in America.

The American Chamber of Commerce Japan (ACCJ) hosted the delegation for a luncheon attended by over 60 business leaders, where Secretary Spellings highlighted the shared role of government and business to ensure America's students have the foundation they need to succeed in today's workforce. She emphasized to the ACCJ members the critical role of business as a key investor in higher education to ensure that today's students are equipped to emerge as tomorrow's leaders. Dr. Adam Herbert, president of Indiana University, spoke on behalf of the delegation about the value of their relationships with Japan and commitment to strengthening those relationships through international business relationships, educational opportunities, research collaborations and study abroad programs.

Also in Tokyo, Ambassador Thomas Schieffer hosted a reception in honor of the delegation, attended by alumni of the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright and International Visitor Leadership programs. Attended by upwards of 100 Japanese government, higher education and business leaders, the Ambassador praised the strong alliance between the U.S. and Japan and highlighted this relationship as a means for furthering educational collaborations between our nations.

Engaging in discussion on the similarities and differences of the higher education systems in the U.S. and Japan, the delegation met with twelve university presidents from Japanese higher education institutions at the Tokyo American Center, a U.S. government educational outreach office. Moderated by Madam Atsuko Toyama, former Japanese education minister, the group of twenty-four presidents shared ideas about the value of collaborations, partnerships and exchanges among colleges and universities in other nations. Dr. Stephen Curtis, president of Community College of Pennsylvania, and Dr. John Simpson, president of State University of New York at Buffalo, led off for the American side of this constructive discussion.

Prior to their departure, Mr. Joseph Donovan, Deputy Chief of Mission, hosted the delegation and a group of prominent alumni from U.S. Government exchange programs, for a working lunch at his residence. Secretary Spellings and Assistant Secretary of State Powell underscored the U.S. commitment to increased student exchanges and collaboration with colleges and universities in other nations. The delegation and alumni also engaged in discussions about education issues common to both the U.S. and Japan.

The delegation will continue to the Republic of Korea and Peoples Republic of China to promote the importance of higher education and encourage more students to study in America.

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Last Modified: 11/20/2006