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Council on Foreign Relations Spotlight on Japan
Winter 2013

Japan Program Events

Kato Prize Awarded to Raymond F. Greene

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.

Presidential Inbox: U.S. Policy in Northeast Asia

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 »

For the First Time in Eleven Years, Japan Is Beefing Up Its Military

China's increasingly aggressive stance in the East China Sea has prompted a shift in Tokyo's approach to the country's military. Read the Atlantic Article »

Japan's New Legislative Balance

In a major electoral comeback, Japan's conservatives have won a supermajority in parliament. But the results have stirred anxieties about how they will use their power. Read the Expert Brief »

Japan, China, and the Tide of Nationalism

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 ยป

Is Japan in Decline?: A Conversation by Sheila A. Smith, CFR

The Declinist Debate is a Diversion by Gerald L. Curtis, Columbia University

Japan, the Never Normal by Jennifer Lind, Dartmouth College

Solving the Japanese Paradox by Kathryn Ibata-Arens, DePaul University

Two Improbable Locales for Japanese Optimism by Matthew Marr, Florida International University

Japan Leading the West? by Robert Madsen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Japan's Untold Potential by Yasuchika Hasegawa, Japan Association of Corporate Executives

Japan, Beyond Tomorrow by David P. Janes, United States-Japan Foundation

Undervaluing Ourselves by Akio Takahara, University of Tokyo

The Answer Is in English by Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten, Inc.

Rural Japan by Alexandra Harney, International Affairs Fellow, CFR

What is Japan's Clout? by David Boling, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation

Japan's Twenty Somethings Speak Out by Miyuki Naiki, Sophia University, and Go Katayama, NYU

The Conversation on Japan's Decline Concludes by Sheila A. Smith, CFR

Abe's Challenge by Keiko Iizuka, Yomiuri Shimbun

Leveraging Japan's "Old Economy" by Glenn Hoetker, Arizona State University

Japan, a Consequential Power by Jeffrey W. Hornung, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

Japan's Soul Searching by Toshihiro Nakayama, Aoyama Gakuin University

From Asia Unbound

On the Asia Unbound blog, six CFR experts analyze issues emerging in Asia today. Sheila A. Smith analyzes Japan's domestic politics and foreign policy. Subscribe to Smith's blog posts via RSS »

Mixed Signals on Japan's Defense

Yet again, a transition in Japan's government has resulted in revamping Japan's defense policy, confusing observers about the ultimate aims envisioned for Japan's military. Read the Post »

The LDP's Freshmen

In a guest post, Research Associate Charles T. McClean says the LDP needs to rejuvenate and bring the voices of its newly elected freshmen into the center of party decision-making. Read the Post »

Beijing's Test of Tokyo

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 »

A Referendum for Japan

On December 16, the people of Japan chose their next government, which was a referendum on Japan's future. Read the Post »

Noda's November Surprise

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 »


Japan Program in the News

Caijing Magazine: (Chinese only) Foreign Minister to Lead Conservative Cabinet (January 13, 2013)

CCTV World Insight: Japan Seeks Support (January 13, 2013)

Forbes: Around Lonely Islands, an Energy War Brews (January 12, 2013)

CCTV Biz Asia America: International Relations in Asia (December 24, 2012)

International Herald Tribune: To Japan-China Row, Add One Potential Provocateur (December 19, 2012)

Japan Times: North Korea, China Pose Diplomatic Hurdles for Abe (December 18, 2012)

Penza News: Rational Diplomacy of Japan and China to Stabilize Situation Around Disputed Islands (September 27, 2012)