Report on the 9th Annual Florida-Japan Summit

The 9th Annual Florida-Japan Summit was held in Pensacola, Florida, on June 14 and 15, 2012. It was funded by a grant from the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation. A welcoming reception was held at the Japan House and International Center of the University of West Florida. The master of ceremonies was Jim Hizer, President/CEO of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. The group was welcomed by Dr. Angela McCorvey, Associate Vice President for Diversity and International Education and Programs, University of West Florida. The main feature of the formal part of the reception was an address by Counsel General Kawahara. During this portion of the program, he presented the University of West Florida with a Certificate of Commendation from the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. This commendation was awarded for the University’s long time contribution to deepening the Japan-United States relationship and for promoting mutual understanding between the two countries. University President Judith Bense accepted the award on behalf of the University. She made a moving address that included a discussion of her recent trip to Japan. The beverages served included three bottles of Tenyo Sake, which is the choice of JAL for its business and first class cabins. This was a donation of the owners—long time friends of Pensacola’s various Japan programs. Six members of the University governing board were in attendance.

A welcoming dinner for speakers, panelists, and distinguished guests was held at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front Hotel, hosted by Counsel General Kawahara.

The Friday activities began with a hearty breakfast. Participants took advantage of this offering, not only to nourish themselves, but also to network.

Following the breakfast, the summit meeting began. Dr. Marx served as master of ceremonies. The program was well received. The speakers and panelists gave an interesting diversity of views about Japan-US issues. Items of note were Peter Kelley’s discussion of the opportunities presented by Japan-America Societies, Counsel General Kawahara’s statistical overview of key indicators for Japan. The Business/Tourism panel provided insights into boosting Japanese investment in Florida, possible exports, and tourism opportunities. The Education/Tourism panel provided a passionate insight into the crucial importance of cultural understanding and appreciation and the role of education. The very existence of the Summit created interest among area residents. Twenty membership applications for our JAS were placed on the registration table, and all were taken.

The Summit closed with an enthusiastic endorsement of holding the 10th Summit at the University of South Florida and the 11th at the Morikami Museum.