Commission Chairman Thierry Porté Honored at Capitol

October 4, 2013 

IMG_4119The following was entered into the Congressional Record to honor the six-year service of Mr. Thierry Porté as Chairman of the U.S. CULCON Panel as well as the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and as Vice Chair of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation. Thierry’s term ends at the end of this calendar year and we will miss him!

Speech of Hon. Thomas E. Petri of Wisconsin
In the House of Representatives
Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mr. PETRI. Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud the work of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, CULCON (U.S,-Japan Conference on Educational and Cultural Interchange) and the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation on the occasion of their upcoming meetings in Washington, D.C., and for their ongoing work in support of a strong U.S.-Japan relationship.

I am especially honored to recognize the outstanding leadership of Mr. Thierry Porté, who has served the American people for six years as Chairman of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and CULCON, and as Vice Chairman of the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation.

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, a Federal agency established in 1975, awards grants supporting Japanese studies and educational, artistic, cultural and intellectual exchanges between the two nations. CULCON, established in 1962, is a bi-national advisory panel to the U.S. and Japanese governments ensuring that the best of new ideas are implemented as operational programs. CULCON also facilitates collaborations and partnership with other U.S.-Japan organizations. The United States-Japan Bridging Foundation was established in 1999 as a byproduct of the efforts of CULCON and the Commission. The Bridging Foundation is a self-sustaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit promoting educational and cultural exchanges. Collectively, these three organizations have been advancing and strengthening the vital educational and cultural foundations of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Mr. Porté’s enthusiastic and dedicated leadership has been instrumental in the success of all three organizations.In the field of art and culture, Mr. Porté has been a staunch supporter of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission’s U.S.-Japan Creative Artists’ Fellowship program that sends American artists to Japan for three months to collaborate with colleagues in their field. In spite of challenging financial circumstances, the Commission supported the continuation of this 30 year-old program whose impact reverberates as the artists continue their work with knowledge gained in Japan and working with their Japanese collaborators.

Mr. Porté has also been a strong supporter of Japanese studies in the United States. He has helped sustain funding for this field with support for projects such as the North American Coordinating Council of Japanese Library Resources (NCC). The NCC creates programs and online services to support the research needs of the field of Japanese studies and for users with any interest in Japan, anywhere.

The bedrock of the U.S.-Japan partnership is the close bond between our people, which remains the greatest resource for our Alliance. Student exchanges have been an important vehicle for nurturing the bonds between Japan and the United States. In this context, educational and cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States have been vital in building the strong partnership that exists today. At the same time, student exchanges help Japan and the United States to address the global challenges as partners with shared values, and enhance the global competitiveness of both countries.

To jointly address these issues, Mr. Porté, as Chairman of CULCON, spearheaded the work of a bi-national Education Task Force to examine trends in bilateral student exchanges and to make recommendations to leaders in both nations towards an ambitious goal: Double the number of U.S. and Japanese students studying in each other’s country by 2020. The Educational Task Force, which is made up of government, private sector (nonprofit and for profit), and academic leaders from each country, has examined trends in bilateral student exchanges, and made recommendations to leaders in both nations on ways to revitalize and invigorate U.S.-Japan educational exchanges. Through Mr. Porté’s leadership, the Task Force is making great strides in improving the quality and quantity of student exchanges.

Throughout his tenure as Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Porté has worked with the leaders of several professional organizations to support educational needs in Japan. In this regard, Mr. Porté supported efforts by Teach for Japan to help train Japan’s most promising leaders to have an immediate impact on student achievement and develop these leaders into a national movement for educational change.

Mr. Porté has also been a staunch supporter of the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation as it expands opportunities for American undergraduate students to study in Japan. I applaud the Bridging Foundation for its work as a public-private partnership to raise over $4 million and award over 1,000 scholarships to American students since its inception.

In short, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, CULCON and the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation have made great strides in promoting a strong and healthy U.S.-Japan relationship through the inspired leadership of Mr. Thierry Porté.
On behalf of the Congressional Members serving as Commissioners of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission–Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Congressman Jim McDermott, and myself–I would like to express our deepest gratitude for these contributions and assure Mr. Porté and his colleagues that the positive results of their hard work will be felt for years to come.