The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has reminded us that President Kennedy’s ideals and vision still resonate today. Recently, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation hosted a symposium with Waseda University, to explore JFK’s legacy of innovation, inclusion, service and peace. The foundation collaborated with Weber Shandwick in Tokyo to produce this first international symposium about President Kennedy.
The symposium The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK’s Legacy Today was held on March 18, 2015 in the historic Okuma Auditorium at Waseda University. [The venue had symbolic meaning – it is the same place where President Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, delivered a speech in 1962 to boost U.S.- Japan relations and demonstrated democratic principles by allowing protesting students to be heard during the event.
Prime Minister Abe, former President Bill Clinton, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy each delivered inspiring remarks on the profound global impact of President Kennedy’s leadership, highlighting the legacy he left behind for future generations.
The symposium featured distinguished American and Japanese academics, politicians, and innovators including MSNBC host Chris Matthews, astronaut Koichi Wakata, former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, and Professor Fumiaki Kubo, among others. Topics included science, innovation, inclusion, global citizenship and peacekeeping – all championed by President Kennedy and still relevant today. Almost 1,000 students from Waseda University attended the symposium and had the opportunity to participate in question and answer sessions following each discussion.
In addition, several hundred leaders from business, government and the media attended the symposium. Weber Shandwick’s own Micho Spring and Ranny Cooper, board directors of the JFK Library Foundation, were also in attendance. In response to the impact of the event, Micho commented: “It was inspiring seeing leading academics, politicians, and innovators from Japan and the U.S. come together and share how JFK’s heroic mission of peace and innovation had an impact on their ambitions and respective fields. Moreover, it was truly inspiring to see these leaders pass this mission along to the younger members of the audience – the ones who will carry on JFK’s legacy in the generations to come.”
The symposium was a success on all fronts, and it was an honor for Weber Shandwick to be involved. In conjunction with the event, we also partnered with top national TV channel NHK on a 100 minute documentary about the symposium, planned to be broadcasted in 120 countries in May 2015. In this, we hope that Kennedy’s timeless legacy can continue to inspire worldwide.