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Japan-Canada relations in an era of global change

Students discuss strategies through which the two countries can tackle shared challenges.

JACAC participants posing for a photo with Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito (fourth from left).
JACAC participants at Queen's with the Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito (fourth from left).

Canadian and Japanese university students recently gathered at Queen's University to discuss contemporary and future relations between the countries at the 10th annual Japan-Canada Academic Consortium (JACAC) Student Forum.

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A group of 28 high-achieving students from schools across Canada and Japan learned how the two G8 partners can continue to promote positive progress in an era of increasing interconnectedness, shifts in governance, and global political, economic, and environmental risks.

“Experiential, cross-cultural learning opportunities like the JACAC Student Forum are so important for young people seeking future careers in an increasingly connected global society,” says Jill Scott, Interim Associate Vice-Principal (International). “Engaging peers in thoughtful conversation about diverse worldviews helps students hone their abilities to build understanding and collaborative relationships capable of inspiring positive and equitable change.”

Comprised of 14 Japanese participants and 14 Canadian participants – including Queen’s student Nathan Bateman – the group heard from academic experts in international relations, the Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito, as well as former Canadian Ambassador to Japan and Queen's alumnus Mackenzie Clugston.

JACAC participants making their final presentations at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.
JACAC participants making their final presentations at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.

As part of the forum, participants were also divided into groups to prepare a final presentation for a panel of expert judges at the Japanese embassy in Ottawa, where they traveled during the final days of the forum. Each group assumed a simulated role of G8 member-states to discuss and define strategies for promoting global peace and security, climate change action, trade, and technological innovation.

Final presentations were assessed by the panel, which included Yukako Ochi, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy; Kwansei Gakuin University professor, Takamichi Mito; Seinan Gakuin University professor, Christian Winkler; University of Waterloo professor, David Welch; and Dr. Scott.

Borne out of the Canada-Japan University Rectors Roundtable in 2004, the JACAC Student Forum is one of many longstanding student exchange partnerships between Queen’s and Japanese institutions. Additionally, Queen’s also has 10 active academic agreements with Japanese institutions, and over 120 active alumni in Japan.

“It is an honour for Queen’s to host the JACAC Student Forum on its 10th anniversary,” says Dr. Scott. “This milestone not only speaks to the lasting impact the forum has on Canadian and Japanese students, but also to the strength of the relationship between our two countries, which celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations this year as well.”

Among distinguished Queen’s alumni is the late Prince Takamado Norihito, a member of Japan's imperial family, who spent much of his life dedicated to fostering a strong relationship between Canada and Japan. Since 2004, the Prince Takamado Visiting Student Scholarship created in his memory has provided Japanese undergraduate students with an annual opportunity to be awarded a fully-funded year of study at Queen’s.

Students interested in participating in next year’s JACAC Student Forum should visit the JACAC website.