[I-House Academy] Toward Greater Mutual Influence: A Vision of Our Cultural Future Between Japan and the United States

[An edited version of this lecture is available in the IHJ Bulletin, Vol.29, No.1, 2009.]

  • Speaker: Richard J. Wood, President, Japan Society
  • Moderator: Yasushi Watanabe, Professor, Keio University
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 4:00-5:30 pm
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
  • Admission: 1,500 yen (Students: 1,000 yen, IHJ Members: Free)
  • Language: English/Japanese (with simultaneous translation provided)

The making of a documentary film The Quiet Builders (Tentative) is currently under way in New York. Introducing the collaborative work and joint commitment of John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Shigeharu Matsumoto in establishing the International House, this upcoming film shows as an hidden motif what individuals of wisdom, insight and dedication could accomplish in the realm of cultural and foreign affairs, with a focus on the cultural dimension in international relations, especially, the improvement of postwar Japan-U.S. relations.

  After the second World War, American soft power in the form of such ideas as “Democracy”, was instrumental to Japan’s postwar rehabilitation and development. Now, Japanese Cool, its own cultural soft power as coined by Douglas McGray, Journalist, during his residency in Japan as a Japan Society Media Fellow, is gradually and increasingly sweeping American society in the domain of the visual & performing arts, design , fashion, architecture, literature, and sport, thereby contributing to strengthening more stable Japan-U.S. bilateral ties. Under such an environment of increased interdependency and mutual influence between the two countries, what direction will Japan-US cultural relation take in the future under the leadership of Barack Obama, who will enter the oval office soon as the new President of the United States, with a slogan of bringing about real change ? What will be the new roles of cultural and educational organizations of private and non-profit sector in this challenging milieu? Drawing on his experience as Chairman of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, as President of Japan Society, and his long involvement with Japanese philosophy and with student and faculty exchange, in this lecture, Dr. Wood will talk on the cultural future between Japan and the United States.

Richard J. Wood

Richard J. WoodDr. Richard J. Wood is President of the Japan Society in New York, a private, nonprofit and nonpolitical organization devoted to American understanding on Japan and improving Japan-U.S. relations through implementation of cultural as well as educational programs.

Receiving his Ph. D. in philosophy from Yale University, Dr. Wood has spent time in Japan under various fellowships to do research on Japanese religion, ethics, philosophy and aesthetics. After serving as President of Earlham College from 1985 to1996, he became Dean of the Yale University Divinity School, one of America’s leading theological schools. As an internationally acclaimed scholar in Japanese studies, he has given lectures and authored numerous papers and writings, contributing to the advancement of Japanese studies abroad. Having worked as Chairman of the Japan–United States Friendship Commission and as founding chair of the U.S.–Japan Bridging Foundation, he is also engaged in a variety of cultural and educational activities furthering friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and the United States.