Summer Internship

I recieved an email this week from the US Embassy here in Tokyo. I've been selected as an intern at the Tokyo American Center. This is located separately from the US Embassy, but is a vital office for the conduct of Public Diplomacy here in Japan.

Today, I visited the building to see what kind of commute I'll have. It is located in the vicinity of Hammamatsucho. My father visited this neighborhood in 1969, after he was stranded en route between the US and his Army post in Korea. Hammamatsucho is where the Tokyo Monorail terminates - when he visited it was relatively new. Today, it is a tired neighborhood of Tokyo, not like the nearby Shiodome or Odaiba neighborhoods.

The ABC building is quite plain. I somehow found it near the Shibakoen subway exit. I entered the plain lobby to find a lonely security guard. He showed me the small sign that said it was closed for the New Year holiday. Other than that, there was no indication of what exists on the 10th and 11th floor. The directory lists it simply as the "AC Library." I am guessing that is for American Center, and not the air conditioning. It is impossible to know what is there unless you know what you are looking for. This is not the result of recent security measures, but seems to be the way it was planned from the beginning. The only other interesting feature were the tables obviously used to search people's bags when they enter the hall for lectures.

How does this rate? I have been to symposiums at various locales in the Tokyo area. These include the hall at Japan International Cooperation Agency the United Nations University, both non-private facilities without this overbearing security.

If I weren't American, I'd wonder about the message being sent. Access to the services provided by public diplomacy officers vary from corners of host libraries, such as in Jakarta, Indonesia to corners tucked away in various US Embassies (i.e. armed camps). This is slowly changing, but is a nondescript building better? We'll see this summer.

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