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Shimoda Conference Series


Tokusaburo Kosaka welcoming Senate
Majority Leader Mike Mansfield at the
first Shimoda Conference.

The First Shimoda Conference (then also known as the Japanese-American Assembly) took place in 1967 as a forum for high-level but unofficial discussions of critical issues in US-Japan relations, the first of its kind in the postwar US-Japan relationship. It was initiated by the Japan Council for International Understanding (JCIE's predecessor) and the American Assembly of Columbia University, with funding from the Ford Foundation. Among the attendees were several Congressional members, including then Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Senator Edmund Muskie (later secretary of state), Representative Thomas Foley (later Speaker of the House), and Representative Donald Rumsfeld (later secretary of defense). The Japanese Diet participants included Yasuhiro Nakasone (later prime minister) and Eiichi Nagasue (later chairman of the Democratic Socialist Party). At this conference, Senator Mansfield and other participants pointed out the need for the initiation of informal contact and the exchange of views among Japanese and US legislators. As a result, the US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange Program, the first privately sponsored, unofficial, and nonpartisan Congressional exchange was launched in 1968.

Held periodically at key turning points in Japan-US relations, the Shimoda Conferences became a symbol of private policy dialogue between the two countries. Conferences dealt with issues of diplomacy, trade, security, globalization, media, and education from a bilateral perspective. Shimoda '94, the ninth Shimoda Conference, also served as the second in a series of three conferences on Japan and the United States in Asia Pacific, which were carried out under JCIE's "United States and Japan in Asia Pacific" project. This was the first Shimoda Conference to involve not only American and Japanese government, private-sector, media, and academic leaders but also a large contingent of participants from other Asia Pacific nations. Their inclusion reflected the belief that because the Japan-US relationship is so embedded in and critical to Asia Pacific as a whole, it should be the subject of a broad regional dialogue.

For more information on the historic role of the Shimoda Conference please see:

Conferences

Background Information

List of Shimoda Publications