Kanji Yamanouchi, the Ambassador and Consul General of Japan in New York, discussed the past and current state of relations between the United States and Japan during a discussion in Anderson Hall Wednesday.
The ambassador’s visit comes at a time when Temple’s Japan program is growing in popularity, just weeks after the official opening of the university’s new Tokyo campus, said Hai-Lung Dai, Temple’s vice president for international affairs.
“We anticipate that if interest grows, we are going to send more students later,” Dai added. “We have 9 partnerships with Japanese universities, including the dual PhD and the dual master’s and bachelor’s programs. We have 30 Japanese students studying here.”
In highlighting the strong relationship between Japan and the U.S., Yamanouchi listed the numerous times that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump had met and called each other.
“If I had to use one word to describe the relationship between the United States and Japan, it would be ‘cornerstone,'” Yamanouchi said.
Additionally, he noted the history that links Japan to Philadelphia, such as America’s role in opening Japan to the international community in the 1850s. After the U.S. and Japan signed their first treaty together, the then-Japanese ambassador visited Philadelphia.
Yamanouchi recalled how important Japanese figures, including former prime ministers, have studied in Philadelphia.
“It’s amazing how we got to this point after everything,” said Ana Nicole, a senior Asian studies major, who has spent time in Japan and seeks to return next semester. “I liked how he gave a consideration towards the history of Japanese relations with Philadelphia.”
Shifting gears to a discussion of current events, Yamanouchi described North Korea as an “imminent threat.” He also asserted that U.S. and Japan should jointly deal with China, with a potential alliance being easier to achieve now that the ancient fear of Japan being an economic rival to the U.S. has more or less evaporated.
Yamanouchi also commended Japanese efforts to unite with America in promoting the free flow of data and digital trade, complaining about the allegedly protectionist approaches taken by Russia and China.
Yamanouchi expressed hope that the U.S. would rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an economic agreement binned by Trump and rejected by nearly all Democratic presidential candidates except Joe Biden.
Yamanouchi, when asked by students who he wanted to see win the next upcoming presidential election, declined to comment. He also refused to give an answer to Dai when asked about potential fears that the U.S. would abandon Japan the way it has been accused of abandoning Kurdish forces in Syria.
“Lots of people asked questions I don’t think the ambassador could answer,” said Lindsay Fink, a senior global studies major. “Lots of hard-hitting requests. He gave very diplomatic answers.”