February 25, 1999
Release No. 004-99

CONTACT: Lois Herrmann
PHONE: (202) 619-4355

United States Information Agency- News Release


Washington, D.C. -- The biennial U.S.-Japan Cultural Conference (CULCON) announced progress recently in increasing the number of American undergraduates studying in Japan and in expanding the flow of information about U.S.-Japan relations in libraries and through digital resources in both countries.

Conference participants agreed to review the talents and potential of Japanese and U.S. youth needed for cross cultural communication in the 21st century. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education and Japan's Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture will discuss joint research on educational reform.

Held in Okinawa, Feb. 18-19, this nineteenth CULCON brought together high-level government and private cultural and educational leaders from both countries. The first CULCON was initiated by President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda in 1961.

CULCON member Dr. William B. Bader, Associate Director for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Information Agency, noted that, "Since its founding, CULCON has served to foster the vital cultural and educational underpinnings of the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship. As our relationship has matured and expanded, so have our cultural and educational connections."

Correcting the imbalance between the numbers of Japanese students studying in the U.S. and American students studying in Japan has been a CULCON priority since 1991. The Japanese delegation at this year's conference reported on the development of special courses taught in English to attract more U.S. exchange students to Japanese national universities. Through its Short-Term Student Exchange Promotion Program, Japan provided financial support for 454 U.S. students in 1997.

The U.S. delegation announced the provision of funds for The Bridging Project Clearinghouse, which will disseminate information on study in Japan to U.S. students and provide recruitment, counseling, and scholarships. The delegation also discussed its goal of raising $2 million over the next three years to fund scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students to study in Japan

The United States Information Agency, headed by Acting Director Penn Kemble, is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy and national security interests abroad through a wide range of information programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange activities.

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