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U.S.-Japan Relations Conference Honors Sophia University Anniversary

Sept. 10, 2013 – Students, faculty and leaders from Georgetown and Japan’s first Jesuit university participated in a two-day conference on U.S.-Japan relations held in honor of the Japanese school’s 100-year anniversary.

Japan’s Sophia University is a private research university located in Tokyo.

The conference, which began Sept. 9 and ended today and included a talk by former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on youth and public service, and panel discussions, is aimed at strengthening ties between the two schools.

Long Tradition

“Sophia and Georgetown have a long tradition of academic partnership and exchange that dates back several decades,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia at the conference, “and the very spirit of international engagement, intercultural understanding and friendship that has informed our work together through the years stands at the foundation of the dialogue we convene together ...”

The relationship between the two schools dates back to the mid-1930s, when students from Sophia visited Georgetown for the first time.

In 1987, the two schools established a formal exchange agreement that has since resulted in 90 Sophia students studying at Georgetown and 240 Hoyas studying in Tokyo.

DeGioia and Sophia University President Tadashi Takizawa also signed a memorandum of understanding during the conference to promote and facilitate cooperation between the two universities in education and research.

Inspiring Students

Tom Daschle speaks at a podium  Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) delivered a keynote address yesterday on youth and public service at the start of a two-day conference on U.S.-Japan relations in honor of Sophia University's 100-year anniversary.

"Since its foundation in 1913, Sophia University has emphasized an international focus and has place priorities on relations with universities from all over the world linked by a Catholic network," said Takizawa, who was accompanied by his university’s chancellor, the Rev. Toshiaki Koso, S.J."This symposium has its significance in not only providing an opportunity for specialists of various fields from the two universities to discuss the issues, but also in stimulating students of both universities, our next generation, to actively participate in the discussion.”

Daschle, who gave the keynote address yesterday, told students and others attending the conference that there are many ways and reasons to make a difference in the 21st century.

He recommended that students consider getting involved in the areas of defense, diplomacy, development and democracy.

“It is my hope is that we can keep in mind our unique role in creating security worldwide,” he said, “but I hope we can also spend more time on … diplomacy, creating jobs, and giving people a voice in their own government.”

Preparing Students

Georgetown and Sophia faculty members participated in three panel discussions today examining the bilateral relationship and the future of the Asia-Pacific from the perspectives of diplomacy, higher education and technology.

Faculty from Georgetown included Victor Cha, director of Georgetown's National Resource Center for Asian Studies and the D.S. Song-KF Endowed Chair in Government and International Affairs, as well as Michael J. Green, an associate professor of international relations at Georgetown and senior advisor and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Universities such as Georgetown and Sophia are emerging as key actors in a global civil society,” said Thomas Banchoff, Georgetown’s vice president for global engagement, “helping students and the wider world grapple with a wide array of issues from science and technology, to economic and social development and human rights.”

The Next Generation

Banchoff said the universities are “trying to prepare students to be citizens and leaders who can address these issues.”

Students leaders at the conference included Lindsay Horikoshi (NHS ‘16).

“As the next generation of leaders who will likely work together professionally, it is important that students from Georgetown and Sophia have channels to share ideas today,” she said.