Overview of Japan-U.S. Relations
Overview of Japan-U.S. Relations
Embassy of Japan
On September 8, 1951, Japan and the allied countries, including the United States, signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, formally ending World War II and starting a new era of Japan-U.S. relations. Since then, Japan and the United States have overcome many challenges together and developed their relationship into “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none” (the late Senator Michael J. Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan ). Japan-U.S. relations are based on shared interests and also on shared values and principles such as freedom and democracy. In the history of the world, it would be difficult to find two other nations who once engaged in war and have so rapidly established such a strong partnership as Japan and the United States .
The Signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty
The majority of both Japanese and U.S. nationals have positive views on Japan-U.S. relations. A poll released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in August 2006 showed that 69% of the U.S. “general public“ group and 91% of the U.S. “opinion leaders” group regarded Japan as “a dependable ally or friend.”
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations 1945-1997 Chronology
Japan and the United States share the fundamental values, including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and Japan-U.S. relationship is the linchpin of Japan’s foreign policy. Based on the concept of “Japan-U.S. Alliance for Asia and the World,” Japan and the United States are building significantly interdependent and cooperative relationships across a broad range of areas in the political, security , economic and global cooperation.
Prime Minister Abe and President Bush ( November 18, 2006 , Hanoi , Viet Nam )
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
November 18, 2006 : Prime Minister Abe had the first summit meeting with President Bush on the occasion of the APEC Summit Meeting held in Hanoi , Viet Nam . Following the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, another summit meeting took place between Prime Minister Abe, President Bush and President of the Republic of Korea Roh Moo-hyun.
November 16, 2006 : Minister Aso met with Secretary Rice on the occasion of the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi , Viet Nam . They discussed issues including North Korea , Japan-U.S. relations, dialogue among Japan , the United States , Australia and India , and UN Security Council reform.
October 19, 2006 : Minister Aso and Secretary Rice visited Seoul , Republic of Korea and had a Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral meeting with Foreign and Trade Minister of the Republic of Korea Ban Ki-moon to discuss issues including North Korea in response to its nuclear test.
October 18, 2006 : Secretary Rice visited Japan and met with Minister Aso. They discussed issues including North Korea , Japan-U.S. relations and Iran . During her visit to Tokyo , Secretary Rice also met with Prime Minister Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki.
June 30, 2006 : Minister Aso met with Secretary Rice on the occasion of G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Moscow , Russia . They discussed issues including North Korea , Iran , Iraq , UN and Security Council reform, China , and Myanmar .
May 3, 2006 : Minister Aso visited the United States and met with Secretary Rice. They discussed issues including Japan-U.S. relations, NATO, Iran , Iraq , East Asia / China , North Korea , India , UN and Security Council reform, and BSE. During his visit to Washington , Minister Aso also met with Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Hadley. On May 1, Minister Aso and Secretary Rice were joined by Minister of State for Defense Nukaga and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to have a “2+2” meeting and issued a Joint Statement and “United States–Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.”
March 18, 2006 : Minister Aso and Secretary Rice had the second Strategic Dialogue in Sydney , Australia . They discussed issues including China , the Korean Peninsula , India and Australia , Southeast Asia , Taiwan , Central Asia , Afghanistan and Pakistan , Iraq , UN reform, and Japan-U.S. relations.
December 2, 2005 : Minister Aso visited the United States for the first time as Foreign Minister and met with Secretary Rice. They discussed issues including Japan-U.S. relations, North Korea , East Asia Summit, Realignment of U.S. forces, UN reform, among others. During his visit to Washington , Minister Aso also met with Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Hadley.
November 16, 2005 : Minister Aso had the first Foreign Ministers’ meeting with Secretary Rice on the occasion of the APEC Ministerial Meeting held in Busan, Republic of Korea . They discussed issues including Japan-U.S. relations, North Korea , China , and UN and Security Council reform.
The Japan-U.S. relationship in the field of security is based upon the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty originally signed in 1951. It has led to peace and prosperity in Japan and has also worked effectively as a fundamental framework for stability and development throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where instability and uncertainty still exist even after the end of the Cold War. The forward deployment of the U.S. forces is critical in deterring contingencies in this region.
The Signing of the Original Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (1951)
Japan spends about $5.7 billion per year in relation to the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan (so-called “host nation support”). Japan and the United States have made numerous efforts to enhance the credibility of their security cooperation. At the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held in 1996, Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Clinton issued the “Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security: Alliance for the 21st Century,” which laid basis for the future posture towards the Japan-U.S. Alliance. In this regard, in 1997, Japan and the United States revised the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation to build up a solid basis for more effective and credible Japan-U.S. cooperation under normal circumstances, an armed attack against Japan , and contingencies in the areas surrounding Japan which have a significant influence on Japan ’s peace and security . To ensure the effectiveness of the new Guideline, the Law Relating to Measures for Preserving the Peace and Security of Japan in the Event of a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan and the Ship Inspection Operations Law were passed in 1999 and in 2000 respectively.
Minimizing the impact of U.S. forces’ activities in Japan on residents living in the vicinity of U.S. facilities and areas is also an important issue to ensure the smooth operation of the U.S. forces in Japan . The U.S. Government has emphasized the importance of “good neighbor” relations between U.S. forces and residents in Japan . Japan and the United States are cooperating closely in implementing various measures to facilitate the smooth activities of U.S. forces stationed in Japan and to reduce their impact on local communities. In particular, it is vital to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa , where U.S. facilities and areas are highly concentrated.
In June 2002, Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush agreed to strengthen their security dialogue on various levels in order to set the direction for future security cooperation. As was confirmed in the December 2002 so-called “2+2” meeting (U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) attended by the heads of Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency with their U.S. counterparts), the two countries concurred on continuing to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including that in reducing the burden of the people of Okinawa.
In November 2003, President Bush announced that the United States was reviewing the global military posture in light of the new security environment and wished to strengthen the dialogue on foreign military posture with allies and friendly countries. Japan and the United States have taken advantage of a number of opportunities for consultations for the ongoing review of global posture of U.S. troops.
For instance, at the “2+2” meeting on February 19, 2005 , Japan and the United States stressed the importance of continued efforts to enhance positive relations between local communities and U.S. forces. The two countries emphasized that improved implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), including due attention to the environment, and steady implementation of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report are important to the stable presence of U.S. forces in Japan .
In preparation for the “2+2” meeting on October 29, 2005, Japan and the United States consulted in light of their shared commitment to maintain the Alliance’s deterrence and capabilities as well as to alleviate burdens on local communities around the U.S. bases in Japan. Such consultations led the two countries to concur in the accelerated relocation of Futenma Air Station operated by the U.S. Marine Corps at the “2+2” meeting on October 29, 2005 .
At the “2+2” meeting on May 1, 2006, Japan and the United States approved implementation details for the October 2005 realignment initiatives, which are described in “United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.” In this document, Japan and the United States recognized that the implementation of these realignment initiatives will lead to a new phase in alliance cooperation and strengthened alliance capabilities in the region. The measures to be implemented demonstrate the resolve of both parties to strengthen their commitments under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and, at the same time, to reduce the burden on local communities, including those on Okinawa , thereby providing the basis for enhanced public support for the security alliance. Recognizing the Japanese Government’s coordination with local communities, both Japan and the United States confirmed the feasibility of the realignment initiatives. Recognizing also that completion of these realignment initiatives is essential to strengthen the foundation of alliance transformation, the two countries committed themselves to the timely and thorough implementation of the plan, consistent with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and its related arrangements.
The initiatives and recommendations included in the “2+2” documents embody the joint endeavor to identify prescriptions for further enhancing the alliance capability. These developments should be regarded as one of the most significant overhauls of the Japan-U.S. Alliance in its history because of the cooperative undertaking to render the Alliance more responsive to emerging security situations and more effective for the future.
Since 1998, Japan and the United States have been conducting joint research on ballistic missile defense (BMD). In December 2003, considering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, the Japanese Government decided to equip Japan with a multi-tiered ballistic missile defense system, including the Aegis BMD System and the Patriot PAC-3 system. (Note: The system that is the subject of the joint research is not necessarily the same as the systems introduced to Japan .
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements
* Ministry of Defense
Japan and the United States are major trading partners. The United States is Japan ’s largest trading partner. In 2005, Japan ’s imports from the United States account for 12.4% of Japan ’s total imports. Japan ’s exports to the United States make up 22.5% of Japan ’s total exports. For the United States , Japan accounts for 8.2% / 6.1% of the U.S. imports / exports, respectively. Japan is the largest trading partner of the United States among all the non-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) member nations and the largest importer of the U.S. farm products. Also, Japan ’s foreign direct investment in the U.S. totals $190 billion. Japan , whose companies created almost 600,000 jobs in 2003, is the third largest job creators after the UK and Germany .
World GDP in 2005
As the two largest economies in the world, which share approximately 40% of the world GDP, Japan and the United States have important responsibilities for the growth and stability of the global economy. As the amount of trade and investment between Japan and the United States increases, the two economies increasingly become interdependent, which inevitably creates opportunities as well as challenges. Given these factors, Japan and the United States launched the “U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth” in June 2001. The objective of the Partnership is “to promote sustainable growth in both countries as well as the world” by addressing such issues as macroeconomic policies, trade, investment, regulation, and financial issues and by creating fora such as the Sub-Cabinet Economic Dialogue to discuss various economic issues. Based on the Partnership, Japan and the United States have been closely cooperating to tackle bilateral, regional and global issues under multi-layered mechanisms for dialogue from the top leadership to working levels. For example, under the Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative, which is one of the fora established under the above-mentioned Partnership, the Japanese and U.S. Governments have conducted frank and constructive exchanges of view on regulations and competition policy. They have made significant progress in reducing regulation, enhancing competition, and improving market access (Recommendations by the Government of Japan to the U.S. Government on December 2006 [PDF]).
While Japan ’s long-term economic prospects are considered promising, Japan was in its slowest period of economic growth since World War II in the 1990s. The Abe Administration emphasizes the importance of sustained and stable economic growth and is committed to channeling new vitality into the Japanese economy through the power of innovation and openness.
The latest economic statistics indicate that the Japanese economy is recovering at a moderate pace. Japan ’s real GDP advanced at an annual rate of 1.9% (0.6% in nominal terms) in 2005. Non-performing loans (NPLs) declined to 1.5% of outstanding loans at the major banks as of September 2006 (It was 8.4% in March 2002 and the government’s goal was to reduce it to the 4% level by March 2005). The Nikkei stock index reached a level of 17,000 JPY last December. The unemployment rate declined to 4.0% in November 2006, almost the lowest level in the past seven years.
* Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry: Japan-U.S. Relations
As the two largest economies in the world, which share approximately 40% of the world GDP, and under the concept of “Japan-U.S. Alliance for Asia and the World,” Japan and the United States have closely cooperated on a vast array of global issues. The following are the recent examples of Japan-U.S. cooperation on global challenges.
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , Japan has considered the fight against terrorism as its own and has been vigorously taking various anti-terrorism measures. Japan-U.S. security cooperation was further deepened by support and cooperation under the provisions of the “Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.” Specifically, Japan dispatched destroyers and supply ships to the Indian Ocean , mainly to provide at-sea refueling for U.S. and British naval vessels conducting anti-terrorism operations. The Air Self-Defense Force of Japan has also provided airlift support to the U.S. forces. This logistic support for the U.S. forces has a great significance in enhancing the credibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.
The international community has continued to make united efforts to remove threats brought by the 9.11 terrorist attacks. It is necessary for Japan to play an appropriate role in such efforts of the international community. From this perspective, in October 2006, the Government of Japan decided to extend the duration of the “Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law” and to actively contribute to the international efforts for the prevention and eradication of international terrorism, by dispatching Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to the Indian Ocean for refueling operations.
Not only is it very important from the perspective of peace and stability in the international community to strive for the recovery of Iraq and stability of its people, but it ties directly to the national interests of Japan . From the perspective of taking on recovery efforts and aiding Iraq in cooperation with the international community, including the United States, based upon the “Law Concerning the Special Measures on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq” passed on July 26, 2003 and the “Basic Plan regarding Response Measures” approved in December of that year, Japan dispatched approximately 5,500 Ground Self-Defense Force personnel in total from 2004 to 2006 to Samawah, Iraq, where they were engaged in the restoration and repair of water supplies and other public utilities and the provision of medical treatment. Japan maintains the activities of the Air Self-Defense Force and newly provided airlift support to Baghdad and Erbil .
Japan is on its way to providing up to $5 billion in recovery aid to Iraq , including a $1.5 billion grant already approved to deal with immediate needs. For recovery over the mid-term, up to $3.5 billion in yen loans will be made to Iraq . Japan is currently in discussions with Iraq on the first projects to be implemented from these loans. The United States has thanked Japan time after time for both the aforementioned economic cooperation, and the recovery and restoration efforts made by the Self-Defense Forces, saying it would like to continue its efforts toward Iraqi recovery in cooperation with Japan .
Reform of the United Nations and its Security Council are among the Abe Administration’s highest priorities. Japan aims not only to reform the UN as an organization, but to improve both the effectiveness and representation of the Security Council. The United States has consistently supported Japan ’s acquisition of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and during the Japan-U.S. summit meeting on November 18, 2006 , President Bush reconfirmed his support for this endeavor. The United States also places a great deal of importance on the reform of the UN as a whole, including the Secretariat and UN management, as well as additional reforms in the areas of human rights, development and peacebuilding. Both Japan and the United States continue close consultations on UN reform overall, including the reform of the Security Council.
In September 2005, then-Foreign Minister Machimura and Secretary of State Rice issued “Joint Statement: Strategic Development Alliance,” announcing the launch of the U.S.-Japan Strategic Development Alliance and the Common Development Principles. The Ministers recognized that cooperation between Japan and the United States , the world’s two largest aid donors, will help developing countries implement policies that ensure the most effective use of assistance. They concurred that empowerment of individuals and local communities, good governance, strong democratic institutions, and political stability are critical foundations for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
The United States is aware of the importance of environmental issues (including global warming), but it did not support the Kyoto Protocol. On February 14, 2002 , the United States announced a climate change policy that targeted an 18% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses per unit GDP by the year 2012. While Japan gave high marks to this move, it also argued for the importance of the Kyoto Protocol, further strengthening internal environmental policies in the United States, and for the United States to take on a constructive role in developing a common set rules for participation in the protocol by all countries, including the U.S. and developing countries. In addition to high, cabinet level consultations that were held with the United States (e.g. the Third High Level Consultation meeting of August 7, 2003 ) on this issue, working level consultations were held in the three areas of science and technology, issues specific to developing countries, and the market mechanism. Further, on July 28, 2005 , the United States initiated and Japan joined the “Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate,” which aimed at the development and deployment of clean, efficient technology to address environmental pollution, energy security , and climate change issues to complement the Kyoto Protocol.