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New Year’s Message

Happy New Year! As we start the new year, may I wish each and every one of you a wonderful year ahead in 2015.

Last year saw many changes around the world, but for me personally, the biggest change was joining JCIE, an organization with a long and distinguished history, as its president in April. Thanks to the great support by many friends and supporters of JCIE as well as the dedicated staff here, I am grateful that we are able to start the new year with renewed excitement.

The coming year promises to be a very busy and eventful one for us. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and is also the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations between South Korea and Japan, indicating that there will be many occasions to reflect on Japan’s relationship with the world over the course of 2015.

In this context, the Trilateral Commission, for which JCIE serves as the Asia Pacific Secretariat, will be holding its plenary meeting in Seoul in April, and the 23rd Korea-Japan Forum will also be held in Seoul in August. JCIE’s seminar series “Rediscovering Common Bonds among China, Japan, and Korea,” which started last year, is planning to hold a session in Korea as well. The 32nd UK-Japan 21st Century Group conference will be held in London in September and the 24th Japanese-German Forum will be held in Tokyo in November.

The world experienced the spread of the ebola virus last year, highlighting the threat posed by cross-border infectious diseases. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in Geneva based on initiatives introduced at the G8 Okinawa Summit in 2000, and JCIE has been acting as the secretariat of the Friends of the Global Fund, Japan, since 2004. Last year’s events reminded us once again of the importance of this activity. Undoubtedly 2015 will be a very important year leading up to the 2016 G7/G8 summit to be hosted by Japan, and as was the case with the process leading up to the Hokkaido Toyako Summit in 2008, we will concentrate our energy on coming up with global health policy recommendations for the summit.

Population decline and aging is becoming a serious problem in Japan and immigration is a very important issue that we cannot ignore. This year, we will continue to tackle issues related to the acceptance of foreign labor in Japan and we will also continue with our “movement of people in Asia” project.

Furthermore, this year, we will refocus our energy on the very origins of our center by concentrating on policy dialogue and various political exchange programs between the United States and Japan. As an example, we will be issuing recommendations regarding the roles of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the US military in the context of our project on “Strategic Assistance: Disaster Relief and Asia-Pacific Stability.” Almost four years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and we will continue to work closely with our colleagues at JCIE/USA to facilitate the distribution of donations to the affected areas and to contribute to the restoration of the disaster area and the promotion of civil society programs between the United States and Japan through people-to-people exchanges as well as information exchanges.

All in all, this year promises to be a very busy and challenging time for us. With all of that in mind, I have started the new year full of excitement to make this a very productive year, fully utilizing our function as the true center of Japan’s international exchange activities.

I look forward to working closely with all of you and ask for your continued support and guidance.

January 2015

Akio Okawara
President and CEO, JCIE