Abe visits US universities, encourages Japan studies

Abe visits US universities, encourages Japan studies
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center R) takes a tour of the campus of the University of Southern California with USC President Chrysostomos L. Max Nikias in Los Angeles, California

PALO ALTO, California - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited three universities during his tour of the United States, with the aim of promoting Japan studies.

Abe visited Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Monday, and Stanford University on Thursday.

It is said that Americans have been losing interest in studying Japan at the same time that interest in China has grown at US universities, and that the situation has had an impact on the US government.

Abe's visits to the universities are, in a sense, meant to serve as a countermeasure against China's propaganda drive, observers said.

"My confidence never wavers in terms of Japanese technology and human resources. Japanese people as well as companies should absorb the culture of Silicon Valley," he said in a speech at Stanford University in Stanford, California

He spoke highly of Japanese technology to the audience at a university that has produced a number of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, home of the information technology industry.

A Japanese government official said: "There are many professors at prestigious US universities who have influence on the [US] government's diplomatic and security policies. It's important to increase the number of them who are knowledgeable about Japan."

There are indeed many appointments of university professors to high-ranking posts in the US government.

To stop a further decline in Japan studies, Abe, on the occasion of his visit to MIT on Monday, unveiled a plan to provide a total of about ¥1.6 billion (S$343 million) from the government's budget to MIT, Columbia University and Georgetown University.

The universities are each expected to use the funds for purposes such as retaining posts of professors who specialise in studies of Japan.

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