Today marks the first day of panels and presentations at the JDA Conference here in Tama. Chuo University is hosting, and the hospitality has been superb. Last night kicked off with a talk from Takao Tanase on Rhetoric and Justice in Japan. After that there was a very nice reception at the hotel including wines, beer, sushi and other tasty things. It was the perfect environment for socializing, and the assembled argumentation scholars from all over the world took advantage of it to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues. There was a brief presentation on the state of debate in Japan, where the JDA officers announced that they have increasing support for World School's competitions as well as University World's participation. There was also a short presentation about the unbelievable popularity of debate in Australia - over 500 teams wish to participate in most tournaments in Victoria, and now many have to be turned down due to a lack of venues. A good problem to have, but not if you are one of those turned away teams. I suppose that technologies, such as Skype and webcams can help with the venue problem, but there is an obvious problem with that as well - the cultural distaste for the lack of a physical presence when engaging in something as intimate as arguing. Perhaps with some more familiarity we will adjust to internet debates, but it will take a long time.
Today I plan on taking in the keynote from David Hingstman entitled "Argumentation and Law: Dialectical and Rhetorical Approaches." After that there's a panel on Pragma-Dialectics which should be interesting, as I've never seen up close any work from this school of thought. More thoughts on that later after I hear the papers.
Then this evening I think we may venture back into Tokyo for dinner and more shopping. So much good stuff to do here. We hope to find the building full of gachopon. I have some information as to where it is located, but I'm really flying blind here.
For now it's off to the monorail station and then to the campus for the keynote!