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 ). At the summit meeting between Prime Minister Fukuda and President Bush in November 2007, both leaders shared the view that the Japan-U.S. alliance was the cornerstone of the promotion of Japanese and U.S. foreign policy in Asia and played an indispensable role in enabling both countries to address global issues. 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.
Japan and the United States share interests and fundamental values, including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The two countries are building significantly interdependent and cooperative relationships across a broad range of areas in the political, security and economic cooperation.
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 June 2007 showed that 74% of the U.S. “general public” and 91% of U.S. “opinion leaders” regarded Japan as “a dependable ally or friend.”
For more information on the results of the poll above, please see:
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations 1945-1997 Chronology
February 24, 2009: On February 24 (local time), during his visit to Washington, D.C., the United States of America, Prime Minister Taro Aso, the first foreign head of state to visit the White House [after the inauguration of the Obama administration], held talks with Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America.
At the meeting, the leaders agreed to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance. They also confirmed that Japan and the United States would jointly address global issues facing the two countries, the Asia-Pacific region, and the international community, with the Japan-US alliance as the cornerstone. Those issues include ones concerning finance and the international economy, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and climate change and energy.
Prime Minister Aso and President Obama ( February 24, 2009 White House )
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
February 17, 2009: On February 17, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Japan as her first destination as Secretary of State. She held a meeting with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone followed by a luncheon. Foreign Minister Nakasone expressed Japan's basic view that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy and the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. Secretary Clinton also mentioned the importance of the alliance.
Foreign Minister Nakasone and Secretary Clinton( February 17, 2009)
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Both leaders engaged in a candid exchange of views, noting the responsibility of both countries for the peace, development and prosperity of the international community and their desire to further enhance Japan-U.S. relations.
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, former Prime Minister Hashimoto and former 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 Guidelines, 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 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, former 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 its 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 paying 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” (“Roadmap”). 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.
At the “2+2” meeting on May 1, 2007 , the SCC members reaffirmed their resolve to steadily implement the realignment initiatives described in the “Roadmap.” Regarding the Futenma Air Station, the members reaffirmed that the completion of the Futenma Replacement Facility, in accordance with the “Roadmap,” is the key to the successful and timely implementation of the overall realignment plan for Okinawa . The achievements of this meeting were confirmed in “Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee Alliance Transformation: Advancing United States-Japan Security and Defense Cooperation.”
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.
For more information on “2+2” meeting, please see:
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.)
The Aegis Japan Defense Ship (JDS) KONGO, which had been upgraded with the BMD operational capability, armed with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA, conducted a SM-3 flight test off Kauai Island in Hawaii on December 17, 2007. The JDS KONGO successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target, outside the atmosphere. As of February 2009, Japan possesses two destroyer ships with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities.
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements
* Ministry of Defense
The economic relationship between Japan and the United States has changed from a relationship characterized by “friction” to one of “cooperation” through constructive dialogue, due to: a decline in Japan ’s share of the U.S. trade deficit; increase in mutual investment; deepening of interdependence; and establishment of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
Japan and the United States are major trading partners. The United States is Japan’s second largest trading partner. In 2007, Japan’s imports from the United States accounted for 11.4% of Japan’s total imports. Japan’s exports to the United States made up 20.1% of Japan’s total exports. In 2006, for the United States, Japan accounted for 8.0% / 5.8% of U.S. imports / exports, respectively. Japan is the second largest trading partner of the United States among all the non-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) member nations and the second largest importer of U.S. farm products after China. Also, Japan’s foreign direct investment in the U.S. totaled $2336 billion in 2007. Japan, whose companies created almost 691,400 jobs in the United States in 2006, is the third largest job creator after the UK and Germany.
World GDP in 2007
As the two largest economies in the world sharing approximately 33% 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 in October 2007 [PDF]).
On January 29th 2009, Foreign Minister Nakasone met with members of "The Advisory Panel for the coming global economy and the Japan-U.S. economic relationship" and received a report "Proposal for the construction of the future Japan-U.S. economic relationship under the new U.S. administration" which was compiled from proposals by the panel for the Japanese economic diplomacy toward the U.S. based on the launch of the new Obama administration. On the same day, Prime Minister Aso and President Obama agreed to work hand in hand in addressing the financial and global economic situations.
While Japan’s long-term economic prospects are considered promising, during the 1990s, Japan was in its slowest period of economic growth since World War II. The latest economic statistics, however, indicate that the Japanese economy is recovering at a moderate pace. Japan’s real GDP advanced at an annual rate of 2.4% (1.4% in nominal terms) in 2006. Non-performing loans (NPLs) declined to 1.5% of outstanding loans at the major banks as of March 2007 (It was 8.4% in March 2002 and the government’s goal was to reduce it to the 4% level by March 2005). The unemployment rate declined to 3.9% in 2007, nearly the lowest level in the past ten years.
For more information on “Proposal for the construction of the future Japan-U.S. economic relationship under the new U.S. administration”meeting, please see:
* Embassy of Japan to the United States of America : Japan’s economic statistics
As the two largest economies in the world sharing approximately 40% of the world GDP, 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 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 about by the 9.11 terrorist attacks. It is necessary for Japan to play an appropriate role in such efforts of the international community. Under Prime Minister Fukuda’s strong leadership, on January 11, 2008, the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law was enacted in Japan, which enabled Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force to resume the refueling activities in the Indian Ocean.
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. 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.
Japan aims not only to reform the United Nations 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 16, 2007, 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, former 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 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.
On February 14, 2002, the United States announced a climate change policy that targeted an 18% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG) per unit GDP by the year 2012. Japan, while renewing its efforts for delivering its Kyoto Protocol commitments, has talked with the United States on the merits of the Protocol, strengthening domestic environmental policies in the United States, and a constructive role by the United States in developing a set of rules for participation in the Protocol by the United States, China, India and all other major GHG emitters. The cooperation between Japan and the United States includes cabinet level consultations (e.g. the Third High Level Consultation meeting on August 7, 2003 ), working level consultations on the three areas of (i) science and technology, (ii) issues specific to developing countries, and (iii) the market mechanism, and bilateral nuclear energy technology cooperation. On the international front, on July 28, 2005, the United States initiated and Japan joined the “Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate,” aiming at the sectoral development and deployment of clean, efficient technology to address environmental pollution, energy security , and climate change issues.
Japan and the United States are committed to the Bali Action Plan adopted at the COP 15 of December 2007. As reflected in the “Japan-US Joint Statement on Energy Security, Clean Development and Climate Change” (April 27 2007), “Fact Sheet: Japan-US Cooperation on Energy Security, Clean Development and Climate Change” (Nov. 16 2007) and in various policy statements of respective leaders on various occasions since 2007, both countries are committed to the ultimate objective of: