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USC to host 2017 Global Conference in Tokyo

The three-day event features keynote speaker Kazuo Hirai, Sony president and CEO.

Buildings in Tokyo
The USC Global Conference returns to Tokyo on Sept. 21-23. (Photo/iStock)

Business, government and academic leaders from around the Pacific Rim will join USC faculty, staff and alumni at the USC Global Conference on Sept. 21-23 in Tokyo. The biennial event will examine critical issues and opportunities facing the region and the world.

The event will focus on how the impact of technology on our lives continues to accelerate and widen. The event will showcase ways in which USC, as the world leader in creative technologies, has been at the forefront of turning creativity into reality in sectors including the sciences, humanities, engineering, medicine, entrepreneurship, the arts and entertainment.

Renowned scholars from USC will engage in discussions with leading Japanese experts to explore how to improve and enhance lives worldwide.

Conference highlights

Highlights of this year’s Global Conference include:

• Keynote speaker: Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony, will be in conversation with USC School of Cinematic Arts Dean Elizabeth Daley. Hirai and Daley will discuss the future of creative technology in new consumer market segments such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as how the Sony Corporation is leading this charge. Under the leadership of Hirai, who has been with the company for 33 years, Sony anticipates its largest operating profit in nearly 20 years.

• “U.S.-Japan — Shared Concerns in an Unpredictable Global Environment”: Retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, a USC Judge Widney Professor, and foreign policy expert Yukio Okamoto will discuss global alliances and threats within the Pacific Rim, and how the United States and Japan are expected to lead in the region during an uncertain era. Petraeus served more than 37 years in the U.S. military, including command of coalition forces during the Surge in Iraq, command of U.S. Central Command, and command of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and also later served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Okamoto is a former special adviser to Prime Ministers Ryutaro Hashimoto and Junichiro Koizumi of Japan.

• “The New Normal: USC Annenberg Research Reveals how Digital Media Use Shapes Family Life in Japan and the United States”: Dean Willow Bay of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism will present new proprietary research on digital device use among parents and teens in Japan and discuss its implications for family life in today’s “always-connected” lifestyle. Bay will be joined by Common Sense Media founder and CEO James Steyer to explore questions about the power of digital media in family life, and how use patterns differ between Japan and the United States.

• “Japanese Media and the Future of Global Entertainment”: USC School of Cinematic Arts Professor Akira Mizuta Lippit will join Naoki Sato, president and CEO of Nikkatsu Corp., Japan’s oldest film studio, to discuss how national industries are responding as the entertainment industry expands globally in unprecedented ways. This session will explore new frontiers in Japanese film and media, discuss the critical successes of Japan’s filmmakers and films, and also assess the global financial and cultural outlook of Japanese film and media in the 21st century.

• “Japan on the Global Stage: Engaging Cultures in the 21st Century”: USC Shinso Ito Center founding director Duncan Williams will join Koji Murofushi, sports director of the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the 2020 Olympic and Paralymic Games, to explore in what ways Japan will be on the leading edge of the world in the future, and how the 2020 Olympics will likely mark a new moment in Japan’s engagement with the world.

• Featured performances: Midori Goto, one of the most admired violinists of her generation and Distinguished Professor of Violin at the USC Thornton School of Music, will be performing at the opening dinner Sept. 21. Students from the USC Kaufman School of Dance will perform a contemporary dance repertory during the closing gala dinner Sept. 23.

Returning to Tokyo

The USC Global Conference is returning to Tokyo for the first time since the city served as the first-ever site for the conference in 2007. Subsequent conferences have been held in: Shanghai; Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong; and Taipei, Taiwan.

USC’s ties to Japan and Japanese students go back as far back as its founding. At least three Japanese nationals attended USC in the 1880s, including K. Wada, who graduated from USC’s College of Medicine in 1889. USC has been home to a number of notable Japanese and Japanese-American alumni, including current Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who recently visited the university in 2015; 41st Prime Minister of Japan Takeo Miki; Robert Takasugi, the first Japanese-American U.S. federal judge; and Irene Hirano Inouye, founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council.

USC has a number of study abroad and two-way study abroad programs with universities in Japan, which is a top 10 source country for the university’s international students.


The full conference schedule and list of distinguished speakers can be viewed on the Global Conference website. Online registration for the 2017 USC Global Conference is now closed; contact events@usc.edu directly to register. To see a recap of the 2015 USC Global Conference in Shanghai, please visit the 2015 Global Conference website.

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