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U.S.-Japan Relations: Toward New Areas of Bilateral Cooperation
A Panel Discussion

November 15, 2005
Mansfield Room, U.S. Capitol


Featured Speakers:

James A. Kelly, Senior Advisor and CSIS Distinguished Alumni, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Junichi Ihara, Chargé d’Affairs ad interim, the Embassy of Japan in the United States
Jennifer F. Sklarew, Intenational Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce, Mansfield Fellow (2003-05)
Adrienne B. Vanek, International Aviation Operations Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration, Mansfield Fellow (2002-04), formely Economist with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs


This program, organized by the Mansfield Foundation with support from the Toshiba International Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, focused on the current state of the U.S.-Japan relationship as it addresses challenges in Asia and throughout the world. The program also highlighted the expertise and insider’s perspectives of two Mansfield Fellows who recently returned from a year of full-time work inside ministries and agencies of Japan’s government.


James Kelly’s remarks focused on how the U.S.-Japan alliance has changed over the years. After tracing the evolution of the bilateral partnership since the Cold War, he highlighted a number of contemporary challenges that require close, public U.S.-Japan coordination of responses: 1/ the North Korea nuclear issue; 2/ China’s “Peaceful Rise”; 3/ international organizations, including the mismatched influence of Japan and China in United Nations, as well as the paucity of Asian multilateral organizations; 4/ Bilateral issues, including the U.S. military presence in Okinawa and on the main islands, the economic issues such as BSE; and 5/ The history issue, which is troubling to Japan’s neighbors in the region.

Click here to read the full text of James Kelley’s remarks.


Junichi Ihara reminded the audience that the United States and Japan share certain values such as democracy, freedom of expression, a market economy, and support for human rights, as well as vital security interests. He noted that U.S.-Japan cooperation extends beyond the Asia-Pacific region today, with important overseas development work in Iraq, Indonesia and several developing countries. Minister Ihara identified a number of contemporary challenges facing the United States and Japan, including regionalism versus globalization, integrating our two economies, energy and the environment, IPR protection and Avian flu, among others. He maintained that the importance of Japan is evidenced in four key areas, each of which has international ramifications: 1/ The measures Japan takes to deal with its rapidly aging society; 2/ Japan’s democratic values, which are the most reliable in Asia; 3/ The quality of Japan’s products; and 4/ The interdependent relationships Japan is forming in the region.

Jennifer Sklarew commented on observations drawn from her perspective as a Mansfield Fellow with placements in Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Office and Diet Internship. In the domestic arena, she mentioned aging society issues and pension reform, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), investment dialogue, and tourism. On the international side, she discussed foreign labor issues, energy and the environment, and domestic and third country natural disaster relief. She has agreed to write an article on the observations she derived from her fellowship.


Adrienne Vanek spoke about her expectations and goals as a Mansfield Fellow in Japan, where she was posted at the Finance Ministry’s Policy Research Institute, Regional Financial Cooperation Division, Customs Bureau; METI’s International Economic Cooperation Division; and a Diet internship. Hoping to learn as much as possible about the formulation and implementation of Japanese international trade and economic policies, and free trade agreements in particular, she discovered that her Japanese colleagues were just as intent on learning about the U.S. Congress as well as U.S. politics and trade policies. Ms. Vanek shared a number of observations from her postings in Japan. Her insights focused on three areas: 1/ trade and the economy; 2/ politics; and 3/ policy making. In the area of trade and the economy, she noted that Japan’s overseas technical assistance and financial cooperation initiatives are geared towards South Asian nations. With intra-regional trade integral to the Japanese economy, she observed that Japan is playing catch-up in joining the FTA (or EPA) bandwagon. In the political area, Ms. Vanek described some the differences and similarities in the U.S. and Japan legislative systems, though she found especially noteworthy the overwhelming amount of time and energy the ministries put into writing legislation, briefing Diet members and answering their questions. As for policymaking, she discovered the complex environment Japanese bureaucrats and politicians face in formulating and negotiating trade agreements, lacking institutions such as the USTR to handle negotiations. Ms. Vanek concluded with the observation that Japanese government officials and business leaders need to do a better job more clearly articulating to the domestic population the job creation and consumer welfare benefits derived from liberalized trading in goods and services, along with reducing foreign investment barriers.

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