2019 KKC Study Tour to Japan

June 24-July 2, 2019

Nine American and one Canadian teacher participated in the 2019 Study Tour to Japan. This year’s tour had a global perspective in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and artificial intelligence and the future workforce in the AI era.

The teachers learned about Japanese corporations at Google Japan, KDDI, Kyocera, Omron Kyoto Taiyo, Nippon Life Insurance, and MEGA WEB Toyota City Showcase, while simultaneously addressing these companies’ contributions to social issues including employment, education, and aging in addition to the SDGs. Japanese institutions including the Bank of Japan, Keidanren, the Nomura Research Institute, the Japan Institute for International Affairs, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the teachers on US-Japan relations, the Japanese economy, Japan’s role in free trade in Asia and Japan’s challenges for creating a new digital technology-supported society called “Society 5.0”. Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met with the teachers and shared his views on the importance of our special relationship and grassroots activities like this program.

At Tokyo Metropolitan Takehaya High School, the teachers taught a variety of topics including the impact of plastic waste on the environment, cultural perceptions and stereotypes, media literacy, and more. At Kyoto Gakuen High School, teachers presented about their hometowns and listened to students’ business plans for companies that solve social problems in Southeast Asia. Teachers from North America and Tokyo had an engaging discussion on issues in education, from classroom diversity, to teacher workload, to curriculum content.

The program concluded with a seminar entitled “The Future of Education and Human Resources Development in the AI Era,” attended by many of the representatives who had given presentations earlier in the week and other Keizai Koho Center members. After a presentation on the skills that will create employment for both humans and artificial intelligence by Hirotoshi Kishi of the Nomura Research Institute, three teachers presented their views on the skills that educators must foster in the next generation. Yukiko Furusawa from the Yomiuri Shimbun served as the commentator.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the KKC Fellowship Program (KKC Study Tour to Japan) which has taken place annually since 1980.