2019 International Exchange and Tourism Seminar

The Future of the US-Japan Friendship:

How International Exchange and Tourism are Changing Perspectives

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 

at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (Atrium Ballroom)

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20004

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In the modern world, people-to-people exchanges play a great role in international relations.  Such exchanges are often called the people’s diplomacy, and given equal weight as government diplomacy.  Similarly, the United Nations World Tourism Organization asserts that tourism also can play a key role as a catalyst for peace and development. In this sense, international exchange and tourism serve the same function.  Viewed from the lens of psychology, the two are close: both start from a human interest in other countries and people.  Tourism may be said to be the beginning and perhaps less intensive part of international exchange.

The US-Japan relationship is one of the most intimate relationships in the world and has deepened over time thanks to numerous initiatives.  These initiatives include the 1912 gift of cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo to Washington D.C., and the more recent TOMODACHI Initiative which originated in response to the need for assistance after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

Comings and goings of people between the US and Japan, which measures the magnitude of exchange, has steadily grown. Visitors from the US to Japan have been breaking records annually since 2014, and numbered 1.53 million in 2018.  For Japanese travelers, the US is the most visited country, and Japanese visitors to the US reached 3.60 million in 2017.

Travel in itself is changing, with repeat visitors and solo travelers increasing and people’s travel expectations evolving as well.  Visitors are not just sightseeing, but are now also visiting schools to interact with students, engaging in traditional cultural opportunities, and participating in volunteer activities, to name a few of the many and varied visitor activities.  With the spread of internet reservations, personally customized travel has become popular.

For this seminar, JTTRI・JITI and JNTO is pleased to have well-known individuals and experts in international exchange and tourism between the US and Japan who will speak on the current situation and issues in their field, the many aspects of their efforts, and the measures which need to be taken to deepen international exchange, including tourism, between the US and Japan.

Video, Audio, and Written Records
Opening Remarks

Masafumi Shukuri

Chairman, Japan Transport and Tourism Research Institute (JTTRI)​

Honorable Guest Remarks

Shinsuke Sugiyama

Ambassador of Japan to the United States

Keynote Speeches

Norman Mineta

Former Secretary of Transportation; President & CEO, Mineta & Associates; Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASWDC)


Satoshi Seino

President, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Panel Discussion and Q&A


Abigail Friedman

Founder and CEO, The Wisteria Group; Officer of the Board of Trustees, JASWDC; Haiku Poet


Takehiro Shimada

Minister, Communications and Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Japan

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Laura Abbot

Executive Vice President and COO, US-Japan Council


Shin Koyamada

Actor & Producer; CEO of Shinca Group; Chairman of Koyamada International Foundation(KIF); National Board of Directors of Sister Cities International(SCI)


Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Vice President of Public Policy and Public Affairs, Brand USA

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The reception featured an 8K projector from Japan, which is the most advanced technologically of its kind.

It showed various scenes of day to day life in Japan. 

-courtesy of the Embassy of Japan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan

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