Asia Society today announced it will open its first-ever center in Japan, in partnership with the International House of Japan in Tokyo. The center will open at a critical juncture as Japan, the world’s 3rd largest economy, seeks a more prominent role in promoting global security and international trade, having recently led the successful negotiations of the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
“Japan is central to all issues of peace and prosperity in Asia, and the world,” said Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran. “John D. Rockefeller 3rd created the Asia Society to build bridges between the East and West and also between the nations of Asia. It is crucial that Japan be part of this network.”
Asia Society Japan will convene U.S. and Asian policymakers, and organize programs on arts and culture, policy and business, and current affairs at the “I-House,” a marvel of Japanese modernist architecture located in Tokyo’s Roppongi district.
“The partnership is a natural fit,” said International House of Japan Chairman Akashi Yasushi. “Our organizations were both founded by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in the 1950s and we share the same mission of promoting international understanding across cultures.”
Rockefeller visited Japan after World War II as part of a U.S. delegation negotiating a peace treaty. He had first traveled to Japan two decades earlier as a young man; returning in 1951, he found a nation devastated by war. Rockefeller saw potential in Japan and the other nations of Northeast Asia, and he believed that civil society institutions that promoted the exchange of culture would be critical to improving U.S.-Japan relations and preventing future conflict. The next year, he co-founded the International House in Tokyo with Matsumoto Shigeharu, who became its first managing director. A few years later, in 1956, Rockefeller established the Asia Society in New York.
The center’s creation has been led by James Kondo, senior advisor to the venture capital firm Geodesic Capital and a member of Asia Society’s Asia 21 young leaders network, and Thierry Porté, managing director of the private equity firm J.C. Flowers and a member of Asia Society’s global council.
“Japan needs deeper understanding of, and engagement with, the leaders, ideas and innovation shaping Asia,” said Kondo and Porté. “The Center will play a critical role in promoting such exchanges.”
The establishment of Asia Society Japan was formalized at an event at the I-House attended by Kondo, and Porté as well as Asia Society trustee Charles Rockefeller, former U.S. diplomats Wendy Cutler and Daniel Russel, now with the Asia Society Policy Institute, and Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski.