President Charles E. Morrison's Address
Tokyo, Japan
August 2, 2004

It is an honor to speak at this EWC/EWCA international conference. I want to start with an announcement – an announcement of an East-West Center discovery for the eternal benefit of our entire Asia Pacific region.

Some of you may remember 15 years ago when amid great publicity some Utah scientists announced that they had discovered “cold fusion,” a chemical process yielding nuclear energy at room temperature. This discovery would transform energy use, ensuring the world of limitless, environmentally friendly power supplies. However, the Utah experiments could not be replicated consistently, and most scientists now consider cold fusion to have been premature at best – or even fraudulent.

So much for cold fusion. But I can today confidently announce the East-West Center has discovered a process of hot fusion through East-West human interaction. I am absolutely confident of our discovery because we discovered hot fusion more than 40 years ago, and we have tested it and retested it over and over again. By “we,” I mean all of us, 50,000 of us – you and me -- who over the years have experienced the awesome energy that comes from bringing together the very best in human resources, in cultural traditions, and in cutting-edge ideas from East and West.

The theory of East-West hot fusion was developed in Hawaii in the 1950s. The U.S. Congress agreed to invest in a hot-fusion lab in Manoa in 1960, and the first confirmed discoveries came shortly afterwards by students.

What is East-West fusion? A chemical process, like cold fusion? Or a physical process? Or maybe -- is it -- a biological process?

I like to think that our East-West fusion is most of all a psychological process. It is about expanding our minds, our horizons, our communications and cross-cultural skills, and our potential to change our region and the world.

Expanding our minds – we do this from birth. Think about your earliest solid memory. Some of us, as we get older, find we cannot remember our first memory anymore. But for many it is a memory of a beloved parent, grandparent, or brother or sister. Or often it is a place. For the famous 19th American educator, Henry Adams, it was a kitchen floor. For myself, my grandparent’s driveway. Maybe a garden or a room.

No matter what or where, the world of your childhood seemed very big. Later we learned that it was actually very small. Growing up is a process of constant discovery, discovery that the world is much bigger, much more complicated than it had seemed before. Much discovery is incremental, coming day-to-day. But at other times it is suddenly. We have, as we say in English, an experience that “blows our mind.”

We want everyone to have a mind-blowing experience at the East-West Center. We hope to truly and permanently change your thinking. And, in fact, many of you attest to the transformational effects of East-West hot fusion.

Last month, as part of our Board’s strategic planning process, several hundred alumni responded to an email survey. Overwhelmingly you reported enormous, positive impacts of the East-West Center on your lives.

Let me quote some typical responses: The East-West Center, writes one, “broadened my view. . .I began to know the big world.” The East-West Center “exposed me to a completely new world.” The Center “nurtured within me a global consciousness.” Many say the East-West Center helped them better understand other cultures and countries, and some report that it helped them better understand their own culture and country within a world context.

Particularly if you were a student, your East-West Center experience opened worlds of which you previously had only the haziest outlines. Okinawa, Laos, Hyderabad, Tonga, the American Midwest, Szechwan, Java, and, of course and most certainly, Hawaii. If you had known of them at all, they were distant, almost mythical places. Now you experienced them, either by going there or seeing them through the eyes of a friend or colleague who came from there.

The testimony comes not just from students. Even many of you who came to the EWC for short periods as already well-established teachers, journalists or senior scholars acknowledged the transformative results of East-West fusion. For example, a teacher says the “Asian Studies Development Program has completely rejuvenated my professional and personal life.” A scholar reports that a five-week seminar caused him to “re-evaluate all my scholarly assumptions” and made his intellectual life much more exciting ever since. A journalist writes that the Jefferson Fellowship had deepened his understanding of Asia and that his EWC colleagues continue to provide the basic sources for his articles on the Pacific.

We know of the impact the East-West Center has had on our own lives. Indeed that is why we are here. But what about the Center’s impact on our countries and on the region? As I reported to you at our last International Conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2002, this is a key question we must address. Public and private funders want to know why the East-West Center should be funded when there are so many other important needs and worthy activities. Are we making the best use of the resources we have been provided? How do we measure our performance and impact? How do we reshape our activities and products to meet the changing needs of the world’s most dynamic region?

We continue to need your input for effectively addressing these questions, because it is not only through the current educational, research and seminars activities at the East-West Center but also through the results of our past investments in you or your work that the Center has its impact. It is also through your eyes and ideas we can better understand how the Center can best and most efficiently respond to the changing needs of the region. We need you to help recruit the best students and scholars into Center research activity. We need you to spread the word about the East-West Center and its mission. There are so many ways that you can help the Center and its mission.

The mission is to help build a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia-Pacific community as part of a broader international order. We do this through a methodology we call “cooperative study, training and research,” the formal term for what I earlier called “East West hot fusion.”

Building a community in such a vast and diverse region as ours requires many hands, organizations, and partnerships. The East-West Center is only one piece of this picture, but its role is unique, and critically important. An Asia-Pacific community needs human resources – people -- who understand the region broadly and who can think in regional terms. Do you know of any other organization that explicitly trains young men and women to be knowledgeable on broad regional issues and challenges and to think of themselves as a part of an Asia Pacific regional community? Do you know of any other organization that has such a broad range of regional-oriented research and professional exchange activities, such as those for journalists, younger leaders, women, and teachers? Do you know of another organization that holds these kinds of international conferences, which brings several hundred people from around the region – South Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Oceania, North America -- every two years to discuss the broad and emerging issues of an Asia Pacific community? I think you do not.

You can be proud of what your Center is doing. Is the EWC noticed by American leaders? It is. Last year, President Bush, Secretary of State Powell, and U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick all attended and spoke at East-West Center sponsored events. Do students still feel that the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii provide outstanding educational opportunities? They do. Last month, fully a third of the first 150 Asia Pacific Leadership Program alumni returned to Hawaii for a reunion attesting to their feeling about a very new and relevant program. Are EWC research efforts relevant and appreciated? Indeed. Last week’s Economist magazine devoted significant space to the work of Dr. Tim Brown, the Center’s lead researcher on HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the Thai government’s aggressive prevention efforts, linked to Dr. Brown’s model, we estimate that as many as 5 million Thais do not have HIV/AIDs today that would have without these efforts. Have we made any progress in conflict reduction? We have. Four months ago, the Prime Minister of Fiji and the leader of the largest non-governmental party jointly introduced a bill creating a select parliamentary committee, through a long process of compromise hammered out by the East-West Center’s talanoa committee. Both leaders in the process thanked Dr. Sitiveni Halapua and the East-West Center for Dr. Halapua’s dogged efforts to bring Fiji’s leaders together first for discussion of national unity and latter to develop the broad parameters of the political compromises needed to move the country forward.

I mentioned that partnerships are essential to community building. This conference itself represents a partnership – a partnership between the East-West Center and the East-West Center Association, particularly its Tokyo chapter. I want to give special thanks to our host Tokyo chapter, especially Fusako and Masao Baba, for making this conference possible through the donation of so much time and energy by so many people.

In any one year, the East-West Center partners with a couple hundred other organizations on specific activities. One of our oldest and most frequent university partners in Japan is Nihon University. I want to express our deepest appreciation to Nihon University for supporting and hosting this conference.

Our biggest and most important institutional partner by far, and the partner for all our student programs, is the University of Hawaii (UH). I want to recognize and thank Dr. David McClain, Acting President of the UH system. He runs a $1 billion plus business, but he has taken his time to attend our Board meeting and be part of our International Conference. In fact, Dr. McClain has participated in many East-West Center programs. He is thus an alumnus as well as a friend and supporter of the Center. There has been no UH system president in recent times who has greater knowledge of our institution or a stronger a record of participation with the Center and its support organizations.

At the heart of any community-building project is Communication, with a capital C. What I mean is that communication is about more than language. It is about having a truer understanding of the broader context of language – the history and culture behind words – and being sensitive to the other’s interests.

At this point, I am going to steal a story that I first heard from the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Duke Aiona, about effective communication. It seems that a couple from Alaska were taking a vacation in Hawaii, but because of their separate business schedules, the husband arrived a day earlier than his wife. So when he got to Waikiki, he emailed her from an internet café. Unfortunately, he typed in one wrong letter in her address.

Because of this mistake, the letter did not go to his wife, but to a grieving widow, whose husband had just passed away the day before. The widow’s children heard a thud in her room and rushed in to find that she had fainted and fallen on the floor. On the computer screen was the message from the man in Hawaii. It said: “My dearest wife, I have just checked in here. . .Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Your loving husband.”

And then he added: “P.S., it sure is HOT down here.”

The widow understood the words, but she did not know the context. Much of the work of the Center, through cooperative study, training and research, is to provide a sense of the context, which is absolutely essential in effective communications, understanding, relations, and cooperation.

The theme of this International Conference is “New Challenges in Building an Asia Pacific Community.” As our conference program makes clear we have lots of challenges – old challenges, new challenges, renewed challenges. With the bursting of the bubble in Japan, with the 1997 East Asian economic crisis that affected several other Asian countries, and with the later bursting of the Dot Com bubble in the United States, we know that economic growth cannot be taken for granted even in the most dynamic economies. From the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in parts of the region, from last year’s SARS crisis, from this year’s widespread avian flu, we know how quickly new diseases can appear, spread and cause havoc with our economies and societies. The rapid aging of populations throughout East Asia has fundamental implications for family life, health care systems, pension systems, and politics.

Old prejudices combined with new pressures from globalization have been associated with the rise in many countries of internal stresses and ethnic or religious conflicts. We have seen the rise of terrorism in our region, from the subways of Tokyo, to office buildings in New York, to discos, hotels and places of worship in Indonesia, to ferry boats and shopping centers in the Philippines, to the house of parliament in New Delhi and to mosques and political rallies in Pakistan.

With much greater challenges, our work becomes all the more critical. By “our,” I mean not just those of us associated with the East-West Center, but all those engaged in cross-cultural, community and civilization building. We, who travel across borders, who write and speak in international languages, who have friends and professional colleagues from all over the world are, in fact, in the process of developing a global civilization. This is not an Eastern civilization, nor Western civilization, but a modern civilization that embraces diversity, that is rooted in respect for internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.

To succeed, we need to show that international fusion offers the more opportunities and more solutions than any other approach. What we have discovered, what we have benefited from ourselves, we need to apply and show its benefits to others, not only in our own countries, but around the world. These days I often wish that there had been someone thoughtful and foresighted enough to have created an East-West Center for the Middle East forty-some years ago. If we had had such a Center, I am sure it would be having an impact today.

Over the coming three days we are celebrating the discovery of East-West hot fusion. We are celebrating by doing what we do best – engaging in a little more of that fusion and community-building by bringing together peoples and ideas from around our region. Of course, we will be meeting old friends and having good fun. But we are also dealing with serious and complex issues, issues of enormous importance. So I urge us all to be solution oriented and to think how we can extend our work through the East-West Center and through our other organizations to ensure that our discovery of East-West hot fusion truly benefits not just ourselves, but our region as a whole and the world.