SF to host U.S.-Japan Summit

Participants of the 20th America-Japan Grassroots Summit will arrive in San Francisco on Tuesday, Aug. 24, to kick off the annual meeting of Japanese and American citizens, held alternatively in Japan and the U.S.

The San Francisco Bay Area was chosen as this year’s host region in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to visit this country.

The Nichi Bei Weekly interviewed the Summit’s executive director,   Megumi Inouye, to discuss the event’s highlights.

Nichi Bei Weekly:  How many people are participating in the Summit? What kind of people will be joining, and where will they come from?

Megumi Inouye: Two hundred fifty people will be coming to San Francisco from all over Japan — we have among the delegation students from FIT (Fukuoka Institute of Technology), Yuko Takahashi Dance Company and individuals involved as members of Sister City organizations with ties to the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a record-breaking number in the Summit’s history.

NBW: Other than the baseball game, opening ceremony, and festivals, what kind of activities will the Summit include?

MI: These are public events. For the Summit participants, they will experience a three-day stay with a host family in one of the nine Bay Area regions where leaders have created wonderful programs to introduce the Japanese to the local history and hidden gems of the areas they have selected.

NBW: What are the goals for the Summit?

MI: To foster friendship exchange among individuals of Japan and the United States. The idea is to learn about each other’s culture, values, and lifestyle through the homestay experience.

NBW: Descendants of important historical figures will be involved in the opening ceremony.  What is the significance of their involvement, and how did they become a part of the Summit?

MI: The story of U.S.-Japan relations begins with a story of this special friendship [between John Manjiro and Captain Whitfield]. The more amazing story, however, is that the families of these two individuals have continued a friendship over 170 years and they participate in the Summit every year to share their stories and legacy. This story is the inspiration for the America-Japan Grassroots Summits.

NBW: How can members of the public get involved in the Summit?

MI: Join us in the many public events — JASummitSF2010.org.We are in need of interpreters — so if you are bilingual and would like to volunteer your skills to the Summit, please contact me at sfjapan.summit@yahoo.com.

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