The tour is an exceptional experience, no doubt. I think that the key part that keeps it all together is the generosity and care of the host schools and host debaters. Everyone goes out of their way to make sure that we are entertained, fed and housed beyond anything we could have expected.
The most interesting element to me has been insight into how Japanese debate operates. They are still very committed to policy debate, but there are a few parliamentary teams here and there popping up. The future for Japan I think will have more and more parliamentary teams, but policy debate is so well supported at the student level that transition to parliamentary debate in total would be very difficult. The built in retirement system will see to it that debate continues uninterrupted at the student run level. The wildcards are the few programs that are directed by faculty. They might choose parliamentary debate, but I doubt it. The reason is that there are many more tournaments in the policy style (which they call academic debate). Nearly 4 or 5 to 1 in some areas, so if you want to teach debate, you simply must do policy debate to get a good number of tournament experiences.
I don't have a preference myself, although Japanese policy debate really should be called and studied under the name “academic debate” because it is a fully different form. The evolution of Japanese debate took a very different turn at some point and developed its own theory and patterns of argument, as you can see from my earlier posts. I think that coming here with the expectation that the debate cultures are the same or even operate under the same limits and rules is not smart. Most debate students, for example, feel that a topical counterplan is equivalent to conceding the round.
I think it would make a fascinating study.
I am right now in the hotel lobby waiting on our ride to the university for another debate on the topic of equal pay for equal work. Tonight we fly to Tokyo and are there for a couple of days. I hope to be able to post some more pictures and give a great report on my next most anticipated stop on the tour – conducting a debate workshop for Toastmasters club members in Tokyo!!