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US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program


Vice President Ford meets with Diet delegation
Gerald Ford meets with the 1974 Diet delegation.


The US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program was conceived in 1967 at a conference of high-level American and Japanese political, opinion, and business leaders held in Shimoda, Japan. The Shimoda Conference pointed out the growing role of legislators in US-Japan relations as well as their relative lack of knowledge about each other's societies. To remedy this Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield called for the creation of a nongovernmental political exchange program between the two countries. When the US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program was launched in 1968, its initial focus was on introductory generalities, but with the maturation of the US-Japan relationship, the focus has shifted to the enhancement of dialogue on bilateral and global policy issues.

Prime Minister Mori toasts 2001 US delegation
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori (center) and
Ambassador Thomas Foley (right) toast
the 2001 Diet Delegation.

This nongovernmental, nonpartisan program has brought more than 285 members of the US Congress and Japanese Diet to one another's countries for a series of intensive dialogues with leaders from a broad range of fields. Over the years, participants in the U.S.-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program have risen to influential positions in their respective countries, bringing with them an enhanced understanding of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Prominent American participants include Howard Baker, Thomas Foley, Richard Gephardt, Al Gore, Dan Quayle, and Donald Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, Japanese participants have included two prime ministers, Keizo Obuchi and Tsutomu Hata, as well as Takako Doi (former Chair of the Social Democratic Party), Koichi Kato (former Defense Minister, former Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party), Gen Nakatani (former Defense Minister), Masayoshi Takemura (former Minister of Finance), and Taku Yamasaki (former Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party)

In 1997, with funding from the Freeman Foundation and matching funding from Japanese corporations, the program was expanded when the Joint Parliamentary Study and Dialogue Project on U.S.-Japan Security Relations in Asia Pacific was launched with the specific aim of building a new understanding of the bilateral security relationship in Congress and the Diet.

•Japanese Diet Visits to the United States

•U.S. Congressional Visits to Japan