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Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki lauded Lakeland College's two-year campus in Tokyo during a reception at Lakeland's primary campus in Sheboygan County on Wednesday, November 10.
"Lakeland's program is a huge asset to our country," Fujisaki said. "To have such an international facility in the center of Tokyo is really valuable. Educational exchanges are so important."
Lakeland College Japan (LCJ), located in the central part of Tokyo, was formed in 1990. Prior to earning a two-year associate's degree, LCJ students enroll in a one-year program that teaches English skills, including speaking, reading, writing and learning to study critically and analytically.
Fujisaki said more Japanese need to learn to speak and understand English, and he referenced a recent study that showed Japan near the bottom of a list of Asian countries rating their knowledge of English. "That's what we lack in Japan," Fujisaki said.
Fujisaki was invited to the area by U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, who accompanied the ambassador on a day-long tour. During his stop at Lakeland, the ambassador talked with several students who had graduated from LCJ and transferred to Lakeland's Sheboygan County campus to earn their bachelor's degree.
Enrollment at LCJ this fall is 224 students. Since its creation, approximately 400 students have graduated from LCJ, and more than 50 percent of those graduates have completed their bachelor's degree at Lakeland's Sheboygan County campus.
The ambassador's visit included a morning stop in Manitowoc to meet with city officials and learn more about Lincoln High School's Japanese program. In the evening, Fujisaki spoke to a group of civic and business leaders at a private function at The American Club in Kohler.
Petri said the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan was stressed to him by veteran lawmakers when he was first elected to Congress in 1979.
"Together, we're working to establish and maintain stability in that region," said Petri, who won re-election to his 17th term on Tuesday.
LCJ is a partnership between Lakeland and a Japanese company. Lakeland provides the academic program, which is fully accredited, and hires faculty. The Japanese partner hires the support staff and provides on-campus support to the students and other administration.
The Japan campus is one part of Lakeland's international program. Lakeland has six formal sister school relationships - three in China, two in South Korea and one in Germany.
Enrollment at Lakeland's primary campus is approximately 13.6 percent international, which makes Lakeland one of the most culturally diverse campuses by percentage in the Midwest. Lakeland has approximately 120 international students on campus this fall from 20 different countries.