Spotlight on Japan

June 30, 2011

Special CFR Meeting: Town Hall on Japan

The Council on Foreign Relations organized a town hall meeting on March 18 on the March 11 disasters in Japan. Presided by CFR president Richard N. Haass, senior fellows Sebastian Mallaby, Michael A. Levi, and Sheila A. Smith provided an update on the situation in Tohoku as well as their analysis of the impact of the disasters on Japan's economy, energy, and foreign policy.

Japan Studies Program Roundtable Discussion: A Conversation with Ambassador John V. Roos

On June 7, John V. Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, discussed what the March 11 disasters mean for U.S.-Japan cooperation in the months and years ahead. He explained how the challenges of the Great East Japan Earthquake have provided opportunities to strengthen bilateral relations, and suggested that the nuclear issue in particular ought to be a priority for the United States and Japan.

Japan Studies Program Roundtable Discussion: Japan’s Disaster and the Civic Response

On April 13, Yuka Uchida provided insights on the relief efforts conducted by NPOs and NGOs in the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Uchida volunteered with Civic Force, one of Japan's non-profit disaster relief organizations. She emphasized the importance of cooperation between non-governmental organizations and local and national governments in identifying priorities as well as effective reconstruction planning.

Japan Studies Program Roundtable Discussion: Japan’s Role in Rebuilding Afghanistan

On April 7, Sadako Ogata, president of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), outlined Japan's assistance in Afghanistan, which has helped improve the country's urban infrastructure, agricultural and water management practices, and capacity building for the police force. Mrs. Ogata stressed the importance of the United States in leading efforts to foster peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Japan Studies Program Roundtable Discussion: Long-term Effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake: Implications for U.S.-Japan Relations

Together with the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation, CFR hosted a policy discussion on April 4 on the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States, opened the event with an update on Japan's ongoing response to the March 11 disasters. The Honorable Thomas Schieffer, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, presided over a panel that included: Akira Chiba, Embassy of Japan; Charles Lake, Aflac Japan; William F. Martin, Washington Policy & Analysis; and Sheila A. Smith, Council on Foreign Relations. Panelists concurred that while the earthquake was a wake-up call for Japanese governance—at both national and local levels—the contributions of the private sector would be indispensable to successful rebuilding.

Japan Studies Program Roundtable Discussion: Japan’s Future Maritime Challenges and U.S.-Japan Cooperation

On March 21, Captain Keiichi Kuno, head of the strategies and operations studies group at the Maritime Staff Office, discussed Japan's maritime challenges and the Maritime Self-Defense Force's assessment of how to meet these challenges. Kuno outlined an agenda for the U.S. and Japanese navies, as well as the opportunities for the United States and Japan to expand naval exercises with regional partners in the Asia Pacific.

Blog: Asia Unbound

On "Asia Unbound," CFR experts analyze cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today. Through this blog, Sheila A. Smith provided informed analysis and updates on the aftermath of Japan's March 11 disasters. Her most recent entries include:

Japan on

Sheila A. Smith provides brief analysis on recent news events for


Sheila A. Smith says the disasters in Japan must be seen as a catalyst not only for building a stronger Japan but for building stronger systems of regional and global cooperation.

Sheila A. Smith discusses the challenges facing Japan as it begins to rebuild after the earthquake and tsunami.

Japan Studies in the News

The Asahi Shimbun: "日本の政争、海外は「被災地思うと悲しい」「時期最悪」" (June 2, 2011)

U.S. Asia Pacific Council, Washington Report: "Japan's Tohoku Crisis: Implications for Domestic Politics, Recovery, and Alliance Relations" (Volume 3, May 2011)

Bloomberg, Taking Stock: "Smith, Parker, Hultman on Japan Quake" (April 7, 2011)

Washington Post: "Japan's military steps up to provide services during crises" (April 2, 2011)

WAMU 88.5, The Diane Rehm Show: "Challenges for Japan" (March 14, 2011)

PBS NewsHour: "Japan Reels From Tsunami, Quake: Did Preparations Work?" (March 11, 2011)

For a full media list, click here.