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Reinvigorating US-Japan Policy Dialogue and Discussion in a Time of Political Change

2009–2011


Final Report

 

Program Activities:

 

Overview:

During the last decade there has been increasing concern about the state of US-Japan policy dialogue and exchange, with signs that the level of interaction between the policy communities in Tokyo and Washington DC has fallen significantly. At the same time, there has been a growing need for more meaningful dialogue about expanding US-Japan cooperation on a myriad of new regional and global challenges.

To address these concerns, JCIE launched a study in January 2009 on “Reinvigorating US-Japan Policy Dialogue and Discussion in a Time of Political Change." With the support of the United-States Japan Foundation, the project examined the state of policy dialogue between Japan and the United States and sought to assess the nongovernmental linkages that have facilitated contact between political leaders and policy experts in each country.

Kamogawa rice terraces
US Congressional members discuss US-Japan
relations at the March 2009 Capitol Hill roundtable.

Over an 18-month period, members of the project team conducted interviews with nearly 50 American and Japanese policymakers and policy analysts with backgrounds in government, politics, business, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Along with these on-on-one discussions, two separate roundtables were carried out, one with Congressional members on Capitol Hill and one with foreign policy experts at the Brookings Institution.

To complement these findings with a quantitative component, JCIE completed an extensive survey of major US foreign policy think tanks active in Washington DC to identify the level of activity related to Asia studies. JCIE also tracked data on Congressional travel to East Asia countries and major US allies going back more than a decade by examining almost 10,000 travel records for US Congressional members and staff.

Based on this research, JCIE released an English report, "Reinvigorating US-Japan Policy Dialogue and Study," in December 2010, with a Japanese version to be released in early 2011. Preliminary findings from the report were shared at a JCIE seminar in Tokyo in November 2010, which convened nearly 70 senior figures in US-Japan relations from Japan and the United States.

The report outlines concrete strategies that different sectors in both countries—including governments, think tanks, businesses, and foundations—can undertake to enhance substantive US-Japan policy dialogue and strengthen the institutional underpinnings that allow this dialogue to take place.  The report is designed to be action oriented, and it aims to raise awareness of the need in both countries to reexamine, strengthen, and further institutionalize US-Japan policy dialogue channels in a long-term, sustainable manner.