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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May.2015)


Lectures by Ambassador Kennedy, former President Clinton, and Prime Minister Abe
Symposium on the "Legacy of JFK" held at Okuma Memorial Auditorium

Ambassador Kennedy: "For peace, pass your wisdom to the next generation."

On March 18, an international symposium entitled “The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK’s Legacy Today" was held at Okuma Memorial Auditorium. The symposium, which was held by Waseda University in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, reflected on the outstanding achievements of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. Drawing on the themes of President Kennedy’s iconic inaugural address challenging citizens to give back, push the boundaries of science and innovation, and seek a more peaceful world, the symposium featured a special speech from Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the eldest daughter of John F. Kennedy, and keynote speeches from Bill Clinton, former U.S. President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The event was attended by 1,100 students of Waseda University and invited guests.

In February 1962, Robert F. Kennedy, President Kennedy’s younger brother and Attorney General at that time delivered a speech at Okuma Memorial Auditorium. Approximately 3,000 students flooded the Auditorium, including some who opposed the Attorney General’s visit to Japan. When Attorney General Kennedy began to speak, he was loudly interrupted and peppered with pointed questions. Kennedy invited opposing students to join them on stage and entered into a tense debate. This taut atmosphere was relieved when Waseda’s cheer squad suddenly began singing the University’s song, "Northwest of the City." The entire auditorium broke into a chorus of "Waseda, Waseda." This episode is still discussed today as a symbol of sign of improving poor state of the relationship after conclusion of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960. It was only fitting that Okuma Auditorium, the setting for such an important episode in the history of U.S.-Japan relations, was selected to host this symposium focused on solving critical problems and bringing peace to the world by inheriting the legacy of former President Kennedy, who prioritized international harmony. Waseda President Kaoru Kamata delivered welcoming remarks, noting the relationship between Waseda University and the Kennedy family. "I believe that this symposium will be an invaluable guidepost for the future," said President Kamata.

The second part of the symposium featured a panel discussion focusing on the many great accomplishments of President Kennedy, as well as on the principles which he left behind. Participants in the panel discussion included Japanese and American researches, business leaders, government officials and astronauts. Students actively participated by posing questions to panel guests. The symposium was a stimulating event from start to finish.

Former President Clinton made his second visit to Waseda.

Prime Minister Abe: "Together with Asia, we will make Japan a country full of dreams and aspirations."

(L-R) Waseda President Kamata, Ambassador Kennedy, Ms. Kennedy’s son John Schlossberg

In 1962, Okuma Memorial Auditorium was the site of a lecture given by form Attorney General Robert Kennedy (deceased).