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Council on Foreign Relations Spotlight on Japan
Winter 2012

Japan Program Events

U.S.-Japan Alliance After 3/11 and Beyond

On December 8, CFR and the Asahi Shimbun cosponsored a half-day workshop in Tokyo at which experts weighed in on the aftermath of March 11 and its effect on U.S.-Japan relations. Keynote speaker and CFR President Richard N. Haass praised the resilience and strength of the Japanese people after March 11 and stressed that the strong bond between the two allies will be vital as the U.S.-Japan alliance faces a new era of global unpredictability and complexity. Yoichi Funabashi, former editor in chief of the Asahi Shimbun, suggested that Japan should first examine problems with past policies before taking on an expanded global presence, citing the Fukushima nuclear crisis and Japan's many government reshuffles. Read the Transcript »


Michael A. Levi, CFR David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment, expressed surprise at the relatively limited consequences that Fukushima has had for global nuclear development and stressed the need for the United States, Japan, and other allies to begin a more integrated conversation about energy security and climate change. CFR Senior Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila A. Smith argued that the United States and Japan also need to take the lessons learned from their joint response to March 11 and update their strategic review of the alliance to more adequately respond to new regional challenges. The afternoon panel was moderated by Yoichi Kato, national security correspondent for the Asahi Shimbun. Read the Transcript »


Roundtable Series: What Do Japan's "New Politics" Mean for U.S. Alliance Management?

On November 22, Kurt M. Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, discussed how Japan's domestic changes are influencing the U.S. ability to work with Tokyo on a host of alliance cooperation issues. Campbell noted that the Democratic Party of Japan has had to deal with a series of unprecedented crises since coming into power in August 2009, and that Japan's politics remain very much in transition. While Campbell recognized that recovery will remain the main priority for Japan, he hoped that the United States and Japan could build on the strategic momentum gained from their coordinated response to March 11.


On January 12, J. Thomas Schieffer, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, discussed his alliance management experience involving the Futenma relocation, North Korean talks, and three leadership transitions in Japan. He compared his time in Tokyo to his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Australia to stress the importance of developing strong personal relationships to the vitality of the U.S.-Japan alliance.


Sheila Smith Travels to India and South Korea

In November, Sheila Smith traveled to New Delhi, India, as part of the CFR project "China and India as Emerging Powers: Challenge or Opportunity for the United States and Japan?" She spoke on Japan and Sino-Japanese relations at the Centre for Policy Research, the Observer Research Foundation, and the Indian navy's Strategic Studies Institute. In her conversations with leaders in the Indian strategic community, Dr. Smith was struck by the level of interest in strengthening bilateral cooperation with Japan on everything from the development of space technology to nuclear cooperation and cybersecurity efforts.

In South Korea, she presided over a panel on Japan's governance at the conference "Japan In Crisis: What Will it Take for Japan to Rise Again?" hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.


Sheila Smith's Recent Writings on Japan

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

Japan's "New Politics": Tactics in the "Divided Diet"

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is about to reshuffle his cabinet, and my friends here in DC are looking at me in amazement, asking "not again?!" The real story is less about these faces, and more about the frequency with which Japan's top policymakers change. Read more »

Prime Minister Noda's Year-end Strategic Tour

Unlike many of us, Japan's prime minister did not sit back and rest at year's end. Rather, Prime Minister Noda took to the road to visit two of Asia's ascending powers. Read more »

Impressions of Japan, 2011

2011, of course, will be forever remembered as the year of Japan's "triple disaster." Only time will tell what this devastating experience will mean for the Japanese people and their society. Read more »

Japan Responds to Kim Jong-il's Death

In these early hours of Japanese reaction to Kim Jong-il's death, Prime Minister Noda's approach of working closely with Washington and Seoul to ensure Japan is prepared for any instability is wise. Read more »

Adding Insult to Injury in Okinawa

Up until last week, the Japanese and U.S. governments were trying hard to persuade Okinawans that this would in the end dramatically reduce the U.S. military footprint, and ameliorate many of the issues that have confounded local governments. Today, I doubt that anyone in Okinawa is willing to listen. Read more »


Japan Program in the News

Mainichi Shimbun: "U.S. Hopes to Enhance Ties with Japan Under Long-term Leader" (December 28, 2011)

Japan Times: "Futenma Plan Once Again Thorn in Side of DPJ" (December 27, 2011)

Japan Times: "TPP Commitment Hinged to Interests" (November 19, 2011)

China Daily: "India Sees Japan as 'De Facto' Competitor" (November 10, 2011)

Global Times of India: "India for a Stronger Japan, Says Former Envoy" (November 8, 2011)

Kyodo News: "Panetta Set to Address Budget Fears" (October 18, 2011)