On December 12, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) hosted a reception for the 2012 Kato Prize. Each year, five think tanks in Washington, DC, (CFR, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Henry L. Stimson Center, Brookings Institution, and Center for a New American Security) award the Kato Prize to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding public service and a deep commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance.
Ryozo Kato, former ambassador of Japan to the United States for whom the prize is named, visited Washington to award this year's recipient, Raymond F. Greene, director of the Economic Policy Office in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department.
U.S. ambassador to Japan John V. Roos attended the event to congratulate Greene, who served in Tokyo from 2006 to 2009 and more recently as the consul-general in Okinawa from August 2009 to July 2012. Also in attendance was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Zumwalt.
Joseph S. Nye Jr. Discusses Japan-China Relations
On November 30, Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, discussed at CFR the growing tensions between Japan and China and the implications for U.S. policy. Nye, having just returned from a bipartisan delegation that visited both countries, stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open and the negative effects that nationalism can have on the economies of the region. He emphasized that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are covered by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, and so while the United States does not take a position on the territorial dispute, this does not mean that it is a neutral actor.
From LDP to DPJ to LDP Again?
On November 2, Tomohito Shinoda, professor at the International University of Japan, discussed at CFR how changes between Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)-led governments could affect Japan's foreign policy. Shinoda criticized the DPJ's attempt to limit bureaucratic influence over policymaking, using the relocation of the U.S. Futenma air base in Okinawa as an example. While he thought relations between politicians and bureaucrats might improve under a return to the LDP, he recognized that challenges such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute with China would be difficult for any government to manage.
Japan Confronts Asia-Pacific Challenges
On October 24, Lieutenant General Koichiro Bansho, vice chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF), spoke at CFR about Japan's new defense strategy, focusing on southwestern island defense, U.S.-Japan amphibious landing drills, and lessons learned from March 11. Bansho argued that the SDF needs to improve joint operations as well as increase force levels in Japan's southwestern region. He recognized Japan's severe fiscal constraints, but hoped for the necessary capabilities to deal with security challenges in the Asia-Pacific.
Recent Writings on Japan
Sheila A. Smith is CFR's senior fellow for Japan studies and the director of the Japan studies program.
Northeast Asia demands the full and long-term strategic attention of the Obama administration, and articulating the future direction of the Asia pivot will be essential to maintaining regional confidence in the United States. Read the Post »
Fed by political opportunism in both countries, escalating friction between Japan and China is becoming more difficult to contain. Read the Expert Brief »
Is Japan in Decline?
Japan recently underwent another leadership transition, raising larger questions about Japan's future. International observers are pessimistic, and many are dismissive of Japan's future prospects. Will Japan inevitably decline, or will it overcome its current challenges? Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, has initiated a broad conversation on CFR's Asia Unbound blog in which leading experts analyze Japan's economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan's future. Read the Series »
On December 13, China sent a small reconnaissance plane into Japanese airspace over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This small flight may seem innocuous, but it signals a creeping effort to change the administrative control over the islands. Read the Post »
On November 14, Japan's prime minister Yoshihiko Noda suddenly announced that he would dissolve the Lower House of the parliament. Noda's final words repeated what he came into office arguing for—political reform of a government that seems unable to make decisions. Read the Post »