Spotlight on Japan

January 1, 2009


In recent years, global transformations have tested the long-standing alliance of the United States and Japan. To assess this critical partnership, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Asahi Shimbun cohosted a symposium at CFR's New York headquarters on December 1, 2008. In his opening remarks, CFR President Richard N. Haass underscored Japan's unique significance to the international system, pointing to the "scale and power of its economy, the capability of its military, and the reach of its foreign policy." While these strengths underpin the U.S.-Japan strategic relationship, Dr. Sheila A. Smith, director of CFR's Japan studies program, noted that in recent years these two partners have drifted farther apart. To reenergize the alliance, she suggested that the United States introduce a new narrative: "I think it's time that we put aside the rhetoric of normalizing Japan, normalizing the alliance, and we begin instead to think of this partnership as a forward-looking and problem-solving partnership." The symposium was composed of three sessions: "Global Transformations and the U.S.-Japan Partnership," "The Global Economy: Instabilities and Reforms," and "Ensuring Stability in Northeast Asia." For a list of panelists and presiders as well as transcripts, audio, and video on each session, visit partnership.



Northeast Asia Regional Security Architecture Project

The Northeast Asia Regional Security Architecture project has concluded its first phase of in-country workshops in Tokyo, Washington, Seoul, and Beijing, which brought together experts from the United States, Japan, South Korea, and China to discuss the prospects of and potential for a new regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region. For brief summaries of the workshops, visit

In 2009, Dr. Smith will convene two workshops to discuss essays on northeast Asian regional security cooperation. The first will be held in Washington, DC, in May 2009, and the second will take place in Tokyo in fall 2009.

The initial phase of this project was made possible by grants from the United States-Japan Foundation and the Korea Foundation.

China and India As Emerging Powers Project

The Japan studies program is excited to announce a new project initiative, China and India as Emerging Powers: Challenge or Opportunity for the United States and Japan?, made possible by a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

This project will examine the rise of China and India in global affairs and study the economic, security, and environmental implications of global governance. Particular focus will be given to the implications for the United States and for Japanese policymaking. A core group of experts will be invited to a planning workshop in early 2009 to define policy discussions that will be held in the second and third years of the project. Envisaged policy discussion topics include: the global consequences of Chinese and Indian economic growth and the effect of the countries' simultaneous rise on global economic management; how the countries' growth will shape their global and regional military influence; the international coordination needed to manage competition for energy resources and to ameliorate the environmental consequences of global warming; and the types of influence the world might expect to see emanate from these two new globalizing power centers.

The final product from the focused policy discussions between the U.S. and Japanese expert communities will be a Council Special Report.