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The U.S.-Japan Summit: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
April 27, 2012

CFR's Sheila Smith highlights three things to know about the U.S.-Japan summit on April 30:

  • The summit marks the first visit by a Democratic Party of Japan leader to Washington since the party came to power in 2009. "This is the third prime minister since 2009, but it is now a party that is well-settled into the government, so this is an important moment for the prime minister to visit President Obama," Smith says.
  • The agenda for the meeting is also significant, Smith says, and includes security issues such as the resumption of talks with North Korea, Iran's nuclear program, reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan, and the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. On the economic side, the two leaders will also discuss Japan's economic recovery and the country's energy portfolio following the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011, she says.
  • The domestic political contexts both leaders face will play a crucial role in the summit as well, Smith says. "Prime Minister Noda continues to fight at home to sustain DPJ leadership," she explains, while the 2012 U.S. presidential elections have "many in Asia, including in Tokyo, who are looking to the Obama administration's commitment to Asia and wondering whether or not this year will be a year of Asia policy initiatives or will be a year with the United States also increasingly looking inward to its own domestic politics."

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