Background information:  



The Keizai Koho Center Fellowship is one of the most desirable and prestigious awards that a social studies teacher can receive.  One major benefit is the cost of touring Japan which is nearly prohibitively expensive for a public school teacher without a trust fund to tap. 




At the program’s inception, the then vaunted Japanese export machine was gaining significant market share in key U.S. industries such as autos and causing many Americans to lose their factory jobs.  Japan was becoming viewed as a threat by workers in England, Canada and Australia too and the government sought to correct this problem which they thought was mainly a perception problem. 




Targeted countries are the U.S.A., Great Britain, Canada and Australia – countries that had defeated Japan in World War II – segments of their populations still felt animosity towards Japan, and growing legions of displaced workers were expressing anger.


KKC Fellows meeting with Japanese female marketing executives that target women’s product lines specifically.   Pictured: Arnold Heller, Ron Byrnes, Ed Consolati     


The award quickly became popular with social studies teachers who applied by the thousands each year to win a coveted place in a nearly three week long tour of Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto and other locations. 


I had applied for five straight years with the hope that I would be selected and have an opportunity to recruit a Japanese high school for the International Business Program (IBP).  When the 1999 selection period began, I vowed to submit one more application – if rejected, that would be it – I would start saving money to visit Japan on my own. 




Symbolic Japanese peace sculpture in Hiroshima Peace Park – famous Peace Institute can be seen in far background. 





Pictured: Graham Ford Williams, Roberta Mucha, Glenn Hartsoe, Arnold Heller pictured with selected students representing a Tokyo private girls school whose specialty was apparently pre-school educational preparation based on the girls’ stated career goals.   




Architecturally distinctive building that is part of a private girls school complex in heart of Tokyo.





KKC Tour Highlight: Vest to Miyajima, a small, bucolic, sacred island revered for Buddhist shrine where the Fellows stayed in a nearby inn, hiked, walk or swam, then feasted on a 28 course dinner wearing traditional kimonos. 





On ferry over to Miyajima – am pointing at sacred island and famous shrine that sits in water right before boat dock. 






Miyajima Island port where tourists disembark from ferry and make their way through the idyllic port town to their island destination.





Boat landing for visitors to famous Japanese religious shrine located on Miyajima Island.





Miyajimia Hotel feast – 28 course meal served while lounging in traditional kimonos – one of the best eating experiences of my life. 






Kazuo and Shigeko Shimazu and their daughter posing with me at their favorite Tokyo sushi restaurant.






My late wife Sue and I first met Kazuo and wife Shigeko while we were vacationing and they were honeymooning in Tahiti.  We shared a tour guide and his taxi one afternoon and were charmed by them




KKC group photo taken in front of sculpture prominently displayed in at entrance of major Japanese TV station and network. 





The Hellers and Shimazus met again two days later at the Hotel Bora Bora where we were both staying next door to each other’s cabins.  A huge tropical storm hit the island and we were rained in for three days which we passed nicely drinking bottles of Chilean white wine.  A friendship was born during that storm and we corresponded for the next ten years until I came to Tokyo.  Kazuo is a construction company executive and Shigeko a math teacher.  Their daughter is a gifted violin player and photographer.  














Shigeko Shimazu is a sweet and smart lady – also a great wife and mother, a Japanese super-mom if you please.  My two special times with the Shimazu family, the night out in the Tokyo traditional Japanese restaurant and at-home sushi and sake feast was a second highlight of the tour.






My Japanese home stay host Mr. Ken Takashiba was the coolest guy in Osaka.  He was originally an architect who worked so late each day that he could not experience his three children growing up.  He quit, became an architecture teacher, re-oriented his life to enjoy it and be there for his family.  Ken was a great tour guide, host, cook and instant friend.  My time spent with him and his family was my third highlight and we corresponded for a number of years








Mr. and Mrs. Takashiba, the best hosts in Osaka.  Ken and Keiko prepared a delicious seafood and rice dish, refilled the wine glass over and over, played excellent jazz music, told funny jokes and made for a memorable evening. 









KKC group photo with the Mayor of Hiroshima who spoke perfect San Diego English where he had gone to college.    Hiroshima bears a physical and economic resemblance to San Diego. 









Large mixed use development was being constructed on an island in Tokyo Bay and was distinguished by radical architectural forms and designs. 






KKC Fellows in breakout sessions with cross section of Japanese secondary level, social studies teachers from three Tokyo city high schools.  




The Mazda Motor Company is headquartered in Hiroshima.  We visited the main manufacturing plant and were honored with a question and answer session with the Chief Executive Officer.  Mazda is one-third owned by Ford.


A group of Fellows that included Ron Byrnes, Tony Breslin, Ed Consolati, and myself visited Misuzogoaka High School in Hiroshima.  We were received nicely, observed classroom teachers, met with the principal and social studies department. I proposed to Principal Yoshiteru Osaka that Misuzogoaka join the IBP.  The social studies department looked at Mr. Osaka and dramatically awaited his answer.  After stroking his chin for several seconds, Mr. Osaka finally said; “It might be difficult.” – that is a polite way of saying unlikely or improbable.      




This high school seemed ideal to buy into the IBP mission – the PTSA President was a successful businessman who loved the idea of directly involving teenagers in entrepreneurship and international trade – he manufactured giftware and novelties.  The teachers were thrilled at the idea of leading student exchanges to Atlanta and elsewhere in the global network.  But the realities of the highly structured Japanese school system worked directly against implementation


Regardless, I appreciated the nice letter from English teacher Yumiko Mizutani:





Misuzogoaka art students painted this mural on a blank wall of a children’s hospital to cheer the sick kids up. 


For more information about Misuzogoaka High School in Hiroshima, Japan, please see and of Teaching U. S. – Japanese Relations 1990 – 2000.



Ken and I continued to exchange occasional emails for a couple of years.  I invited him and two of his students to participate in Super – Exchange V – unfortunately the government bureaucracy with its maze of regulations defeated that.  I think of Ken now and then and am sure that he is still “taking time to smell the roses”. 



KKC select economists provided the Fellows with this explanation of Japan’s status in 1999 after a decade of stagnation.  The economy in 2013, 24 years after the economic bubble burst, the economy is finally showing some signs of this transition taking place.



Fourteen years later, the economic scenario is scarily similar – none of the prescriptions / remedies have been tried sufficiently nor worked.  Over the past 3 months, the Japanese government has resorted to doubling the money supply to finally jump start growth.  The yen has been devalued, export goods are cheapening, sales have been boosted in short term.  In the longer term, this radical approach could end badly though with stagflation – stagnant economy with flood of too cheap money circulating – outcome is too much cheap money and slack demand.