Harvard University is looking for a role to play in providing a cooperative international mechanism or organization to help manage crises when they occur and even before they hit, the president of the prestigious American university said.

“We have to learn how to manage the world better,” Neil L. Rudenstine said during a Harvard Community in Japan dinner held at a Tokyo hotel Wednesday evening. “We have to be able, very very soon, to build a kind of cooperative international engine, machinery, or organization, that will help us manage crises when they arrive, and contain these crises even before they arrive,” over such problems as security, economy and environment.

One of the world’s most resourceful universities, Harvard will bring all kinds of people with different disciplines and in different sectors to find ways to solve problems such as global warming, Rudenstine said.

Emphasizing the university’s growing interest in and ties with Asia, he pointed out that one-third of its foreign students, some 1,000 out of 3,000, are from Asia and that even among American students, 20 percent are Asian-Americans, including Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans.

In addition to the Asian orientation of its student structure, the largest number of foreign languages student are learning Asian-languages, led by Chinese and Japanese, with Rudenstine pointing out this was “much more than French, German and Italian.”

“Already transforming, we are looking to the East, Japan, East Asia, as important, essential partners in the decade, century to come, because you’ll remain a very, very powerful economy, despite the problems you have now,” Rudenstine said. “In the long-term view, Asia will be, and Japan will be, the dominant power in the coming century.”

The Harvard president, accompanied by his wife, Angelica, was with U.S. Ambassador Thomas S. Foley, Professor Ezra F. Vogel, director of the university’s Asia Center, and some 350 Harvard alumni, both American and Japanese — comprising many members of Japan’s who’s-who of academic, bureaucratic, and professional sectors. They gathered at the dinner organized by the fundraising committee in Japan for the new center to hear reports on the center’s activities.

The Crown Prince and Princess — also a Harvard graduate — graced the occasion by attending the dinner and chatting with the Rudenstines and other guests.

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