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West Meets East:
AACD and the Japan Academy of Esthetic Dentistry

Dr. John Sullivan, AACD President

Left to right:
Takashi Wakayama, General Manager, Marketing Department, Shofu; Ed Simeone, AACD Executive Director; Noriyuki Negoro, President, Shofu; Crystal Sullivan; John Sullivan; Akira Senda, President-Elect, Japan Academy of Esthetic Dentistry; Morioki Fujitani, Head, Accreditation Committee, Japan Academy of Esthetic Dentistry

In early October, I had the unique opportunity to represent the AACD at the 22nd annual meeting of the Japan Academy of Esthetic Dentistry (JAED). At the invitation of the JAED— and to further solidify our sister relationship—I traveled with AACD CEO, Ed Simeone, to Kyoto and Nara, to speak on behalf of the Academy.

We began our visit in Kyoto hosted by representatives of SHOFU Corporation, where we were given a tour of their production facility, and met with their upper management team including their President, Noriyuki Negoro. Representatives of SHOFU showed a sincere interest in becoming involved with the AACD, and discussed being part of our annual meeting. It was a great day of learning as well as an opportunity to see many of the historic sights around Kyoto, culminated by an authentic dinner at a local restaurant. I found eating with chopsticks to be relatively easy, but sitting at a low table very long was not good for my knees.

Left to right: John K. Sullivan, DDS (center) flanked by Professor Junji Tagami and Takashi Nakamura; Dr. Waki, the translator, with Dr. Sullivan; a shoeless Dr. Sullivan receives a customary gift for speaking to the group; Dr. Sullivan shares the stage with Professor Tagami.

We then traveled to Nara to take part in the JAED conference. I presented a bilingual, joint symposium on minimally invasive dentistry with Professor Junji Tagami, who is the Dean at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Since the only Japanese I learned that week was, “Good morning,” and “Thank you very much,” I had the pleasure of working with a young dentist, Tomonori Waki, who, interestingly, had done some of his post-graduate training in implants at Loma Linda University.

The presentation was designed with Japanese subtitles, as well as Dr. Waki’s interpretation of my comments, followed by a question and answer session.

Following the Japanese on-stage tradition, I wore no shoes. I found it hard to concentrate on my presentation while wondering if I forgot to put shoes on that morning!

We also represented the AACD in meetings with the JAED leadership and at events with the 600 conference attendees, where the foundation of the sister relationship was reaffirmed and its growth discussed. Ed and I were also asked to discuss the relationships that had been established with both Japan and Korea at a meeting of the leadership of the Asian Academy of Esthetic Dentistry, which included representatives from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, and other countries.

Finally, we took part in a joint meeting with the executive committees of both the JAED, which included Drs. Toru Sato (President), Akira Senda (President Elect), Morioki Fujitani (Head of Accreditation), and Takashi Nakamura (Head of International Relations), and the Korean Academy of Esthetic Dentistry (KAED), which included Dr. Myungjin Kim (President), and other members of KAED’s executive committee. Both the JAED and the KAED expressed their pleasure at how well the terms of the sister relationship agreements are being fulfilled, and we discussed future opportunities within our organizations, including exchange of journal articles and speakers. We were given copies of the Journal of the JAED, which featured an article authored by AACD Immediate Past President, Dr. Hugh Flax.

What stood out to me on the trip was the respect that the AACD has in dentistry worldwide. Many attendees approached Ed and I and asked about our organization and our meeting. The AACD’s relationship with the JAED and KAED is of utmost importance to the leadership of the respective organizations, shown by their efforts to include us in so many activities. While in Japan, I saw a country filled with pride, history and tradition, and our relationship with the JAED is becoming part of their dental history and tradition.