NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A former Japanese ambassador to the United States says Tennessee State University students and faculty can benefit from cultural and academic experiences in Japan.
Ichiro Fujisaki, who served as his country’s chief diplomatic officer to the U.S. from 2008-2012, is now the president of the America-Japan Society, Inc., a private entity for interactive activities between Japan and the U.S.
He spoke on TSU’s Avon Williams Campus Wednesday when he led a four-member panel on Japan’s culture, economy, politics and relationship with the U.S.
Called “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan,” the panel is held in different cities across the United States each year. Audiences include students, faculty, grassroots organizations and community leaders in face-to-face discussion on understanding the culture and people of the world’s third-largest economic power.
The Consul-General of Japan in Nashville, Masami Kinefuchi, and more than 100 TSU students, faculty, administrators and community leaders attended the program, which concluded with a Q&A session and exchanges with the Japanese delegation.
“Japan today is very different from the Japan we see in prototypes and sketches in the media,” Fujisaki said. “Japan is really modernizing; it is a very open society. Japan is not just beautiful; it is so lively. And the good thing about it is that Japanese people are friendly to Americans, which makes it very appealing to students and visitors.”
According to organizers, “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” began in 2014. Since then, the delegation – usually comprising different individuals – has visited more than 63 cities.
The TSU visit was held in collaboration with the College of Business and the Office of International Affairs, and a result of a “special” relationship between TSU and the Japanese consulate since 2016, according to Anis Mnif, director of Graduate Programs in the COB.
That relationship, Mnif said, has resulted in many visits by TSU students and faculty, including one last year when 21 students went to Japan for a 10-day visit funded by the Japanese government.
Ronald McFarland, a graduate student in the MBA program, was one of those students. He said the experience was “unique” and very rewarding.
“A lot of what we know about Japan we only see on TV, but going there and seeing how clean the cities are, the friendliness of the people and their willingness to accept us in their culture was very eye-opening,” said McFarland, of Nashville. “The goal of the trip was to spread the word about the relationship between Nashville and TSU, in general, and Japan. As a TSU student just making the connections, meeting with business professionals, young professionals, opened my eyes to a whole new look on our global society.”
Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of the College of Business, said the Japanese delegation’s visit is “just another step along our long path that we have been on” in building a relationship with Japan.
“Our students have been studying abroad in Japan for a good number of years,” Lownes-Jackson said. “So this is just another step in building even stronger relationships. We think this will open the doors for more study abroad opportunities for our students, faculty, and for faculty from Japan to come and teach our students here in America.”
Also speaking at the program was Dr. John Robinson, professor of biological sciences and interim associate vice president for Academic Affairs, who brought greetings on behalf of President Glenda Glover.
Howard Gentry Jr., Criminal Court Clerk of Davidson County and TSU alum credited with helping to establish the relationship between TSU and the Japanese consulate, also attended the program.
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