Vol. 3, No. 1 (February 1, 2007)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.
Policy Speech by Prime Minister Abe to the 166th Session of the Diet
Policy Speech by Foreign Minister Aso to the 166th Session of the Diet
Summit Gets Positive Appraisal
|Mr. Zumwalt giving the lecture at JICC|
Despite the close and deep association between our two nations, the Japan-U.S. relationship is much more than bilateral, according to Mr. Jim Zumwalt, Director of Japan Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In a lecture entitled "An Introspective View of U.S.-Japan Relations: Government to Government, Industry to Industry and People to People" at JICC on November 6, Zumwalt illustrated the complexities of this vital relationship, through political, economic, and cultural perspectives.
This event, which was supported by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington D.C. and the regional Japanese American Leadership Network, facilitated by the Japanese American National Museum, featured Zumwalt as an expert in this field based on his many years working with Japan through the U.S. State Department. From 2004 until last August, he served as an Economic Minister at the American Embassy in Tokyo, and he has had three other tours in Japan since 1985.
Following opening remarks by JICC Director Hiroshi Furusawa; Tetsuo Kadoya, General Manager of the Washington, DC office of Toshiba American, Inc.; and Hideki Hamamoto, leader of the local Japanese-American Leadership Network group, Zumwalt presented his lecture by sprinkling specialized topics with personal anecdotes and jokes, making it accessible to all.
The Abe Administration
Zumwalt began his lecture by discussing the administration of the new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who just came into power at the end of last September. "I feel very privileged to be on the Japan desk at the State Department at this time because U.S.-Japan relations are so strong," he said. He said that part of that strength is due to the "legacy left over from the era of Prime Minister Koizumi where we very much strengthened our security relationship, increased our political cooperation and advanced shared interests and shared values that we have," but that Prime Minister Abe himself has also "gotten off to a very strong start."
Zumwalt said that the U.S.
Government supported the fact that Prime Minister Abe chose China and
Korea as the destinations of his first diplomatic visit overseas since
becoming Japan's leader. "We'd like to see Japan playing a very active
and robust role in Asia because there's a lot of good things Japan can
share with its neighbors," he said, stating that Prime Minister Abe's
move allowed Japan to "regain its diplomatic initiative" with
its neighbors. "I think China and Korea as well see this as an opportunity,
so this is really good for everyone that Japan is improving its relationship
with its neighbors," he added.
Another major event in the Abe administration has been dealing with North Korea, Zumwalt said. The Japan-U.S. relationship has been an important factor in attempting to solve this problem: "because the U.S. has pledged to come to the defense of Japan in the case of an attack by anyone, that gives Japan some insurance and also encourages Japan to work together with us in dealing with this threat," he said. Japan and the U.S., along with other nations, have been working together on two fronts, one of which is implementing UN sanctions, "showing North Korea that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is not constructive." The other is the "diplomatic track, where we are trying to restart the Six-Party Talks," he said.
He presented other areas in which Japan and the U.S. have been working together to maintain a strong security alliance, which "really is the lynchpin of our [the U.S. Government's] security strategy in the Asia-Pacific region." One key area is the U.S. military bases in Japan, which allows the U.S. to "project military power in the region in a way that would not be possible were it not for the access we enjoy in Japan," he said. Zumwalt said that there are about 50,000 U.S. troops who are either stationed or forward-deployed in Japan, and that the U.S. Government recognizes the tensions that may arise in Japan from hosting such a large number of foreign troops. To relieve this strain on an otherwise good relationship, he said that there is a Security Consultative Committee agreement to restructure and transform the security alliance, aimed at making the alliance more sustainable as well as stronger and more effective.
What he means by sustainability, he explained, is "public support on both sides for the security relationship," which will ultimately sustain the alliance in the future. The U.S. and Japanese Governments agreed on a number of specific action plans "to restructure our presence in Japan . . . and reduce some of the issues that come up in the base-hosting communities." He listed some of the highlights of the plans: moving about one-third of the Marine Corps off of Okinawa to Guam; moving the carrier airwings flight operations to an air field outside of the densely populated Kanagawa prefecture; increasing Japan-U.S. counter-terrorism cooperation and sharing more intelligence; and improving bilateral contingency planning.
Another part of this plan, Zumwalt said, is ballistic missile defense, which has become increasingly important to the Japanese due to the recent nuclear tests by North Korea. "Japan feels very much that it needs some kind of a response, and the approach that Japan has taken is to work with the U.S. to build a compatible missile defense system," he said, which would be more efficient in cost and time than an independent Japanese system. This has resulted in an "unprecedented backing" for close cooperation with the U.S. on missile defense systems: the U.S. has already stationed in Japan some American military equipment that essential to a missile defense system and is working with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), who will also be acquiring their own equipment.
This is just one example where the U.S. forces in Japan and the JSDF are cooperating with each other. Another part of the plan is to expand inter-operability by increasing training opportunities, including joint training opportunities. Zumwalt cited an event where the JSDF visited the U.S. Marine Corps in San Diego to practice landing techniques. "Although Japan is providing a lot of opportunities for the U.S. military, we're quite happy to be providing training opportunities to the Japanese, [because] sometimes there aren't really suitable places in Japan to do some types of training," he said.
The second goal of restructuring the alliance, effectiveness, is just as important as sustainability, Zumwalt said. "One thing we want to make sure that our friends and our neighbors recognize is that the alliance will in no way be hindered by these changes. In fact, we think we'll be even stronger and more capable as a result of all of these changes," he said. "By becoming more interoperable and heightening our cooperation and working together more closely, the combined efforts and combined capabilities of U.S. and Japan will become even stronger once we complete these actual implementation plans."
In order to make all of this happen, Zumwalt said, the U.S.requires Japan's assistance. "These kinds of programs are not inexpensive and it will take a lot on both sides in the way of funding," he said. The U.S. is looking for Japanese financial support for new facilities on Guam, so that some of the U.S. troops on Okinawa can be moved to Guam. Japan has also promised to build a replacement facility for the U.S. Marine Corps air station in Futenma, Okinawa so that it can be moved from the urban southern part of the island to a more rural northern part, where "it'll be less of a burden for the surrounding community," he said.
Zumwalt recognized that Japan is already making a large financial contribution to U.S. military efforts in Japan. "The cost to the U.S. of maintaining a U.S. marine or an airman or soldier in Japan is cheaper than stationing that same person in the U.S." because Japan provides what is called host-nation support, by paying the utilities cost of the bases, much of the labor cost for the local labor contracts, and the rent where applicable, he said. This demonstrates Japan's commitment to the alliance, and while the U.S. Government would like this to continue, the action plan is expected to lead to "an alliance that is more sustainable and more capable of doing what it needs to do to maintain security in Northeast Asia," he said.
Zumwalt began the discussion of the political aspect of Japan-U.S. relations by calling it a "network." Much of his time working at the Japan Desk at the State Department is in fact not spent in bilateral relations. Unlike ten to twenty years ago, when only the Japan specialists dealt with Japan, "virtually everyone in the State Department is interested in Japan" because "we share common values and common interests with Japan, and therefore when we have an issue we try to deal with or a challenge we're trying to meet, many people see working with Japan as part of the solution to our efforts," he said. He described his position as the coordinator of all these various sections of the State Department, from people who work with Latin America to people who work on Africa or the Middle East, to people who are working on global problems such as the war on terror, HIV, or avian influenza. While other nations may focus more on bilateral ties, "Our political relationship is very broad--it's not bilateral; it's not even regional. It's global in scope," he said. Japan and the U.S. work together to promote democracy, promote regional stability and prosperity in areas like Southeast Asia and Africa, and support the Middle East peace process.
Zumwalt cited two specific examples where Japan and the U.S. have been working together to solve global political issues: Afghanistan and Iraq. Japan is playing a major role in the Maritime Interdiction Operations of Operation Enduring Freedom, an operation directed at interdicting weapons that are being smuggled into Afghanistan. For the last two years, he said, Japan has been providing a tanker in the Indian Ocean, refueling ships that belong to the U.S., French, Pakistani and other navies that are part of this effort. This allows naval ships to stay on post longer, ultimately contributing to efforts to support the democratic government in Afghanistan, he said.
Japan has also pledged $5 billion to Iraqi reconstruction, the second largest amount after the U.S. While Japan has made financial contributions before, it was a surprise to many when the former Prime Minister Koizumi deployed SDF troops in Iraq to support the American cause. Was this an irregularity? As to whether Japan would again give the same kind of support to a peacekeeping operation as they have shown Iraq, Zumwalt cited a Japanese public opinion poll released last November, where 71.8% of the Japanese respondents supported the SDF mission in Iraq that is now completed. 74% said they think the JSDF should participate in future peacekeeping (and not necessarily those by the UN) operations. Although support by the Japanese public was unclear when Prime Minister Koizumi first decided to deploy SDF troops in Iraq, things have turned out for the better, and Zumwalt said he is confident that "should there be a need in the future for Japan to contribute to peacekeeping operations somewhere, there will be very much an effort."
Zumwalt mentioned two other factors that may positively contribute to further such participations by Japan in the future. "The opportunity to participate the ground SDF in the mission in Iraq (which is now over), the air SDF mission in Kuwait (which is ongoing), and the maritime SDF in the Indian ocean (which is ongoing)--this has really helped the SDF themselves increase their sense of pride [that] they are a normal military that participates in global operations, working with allies and friends," Zumwalt said. He mentioned that when the first group of the ground SDF was sent to Iraq, Prime Minister Koizumi came to review the troops as they were leaving, which was not a common occurrence in Japan. "Helping the SDF themselves recognize their mission and purpose, and that they are a very important part of Japan's role in the world," Zumwalt said, "will actually help us in the future to working together on our various areas where we need Japan."
Another factor is "desire on the part of Japanese themselves to be a player in the world," Zumwalt said. He explained that while Japan is eager to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, "one aspect of deserving to be there is that they participate in all these kinds of global efforts." In addition to the purpose of bettering the global political climate as a whole, for Japan's own goals, it can be expected that Japan will participate more in these kinds of efforts in the future.
Zumwalt explained that the Japan-U.S. economic relationship also has bilateral, global and regional components. "These are equally important," he said.
He first addressed China, which has been garnering much interest in the recent years, especially because of its rapidly growing economy. But "if you look at it from the perspective of U.S. interests in Asia, and Japanese interests, our bilateral relationship with each other is still much more important than our relationship is with China," he said. While bilateral China-Japan trade volumes have surpassed U.S.-Japan trade volumes, that only "shows the difference in trading between our relationship." Many companies in the U.S. and Japan began their relationship by trading, where factories in the home country made products and exported them to the other country. "But as the relationship matured, companies on both sides of the Pacific began investing in each other's country, and producing locally for the local market," he explained. Therefore one can no longer simply measure trade volumes to assess the scope of our economic relationship.
As for the global aspect of Japan-U.S. economic relations, Zumwalt cited the example of intellectual property rights (IPR). U.S. and Japanese firms have the common interest to "improve the global climate for respect for intellectual property." Japanese exports of computer software and game software are now larger than Japanese exports of steel, making IPR protection more important than ever to Japanese companies. U.S. companies, too, are interested in working with Japan to "increase respect for and protection of intellectual property in the world," he said, which "will be good for both of our industries."
Other areas in which Japan and the U.S. work together on economic issues are: promoting market economies; promoting rule of law, such as respect for contracts; promoting a good investment climate; and promoting the improvement in health in Africa and Southeast Asia. "There's a lot of things we could be doing together to be working on these problems, both in terms of developing technologies, providing foreign assistance, and also encouraging governments to adopt good policies to deal with some of these problems," he said.
One aspect that has been getting ongoing cooperation from both governments is investing in each other's country. He emphasized that the U.S. Government is interested in having Japanese companies invest in the U.S. "because we see the role Japanese companies play in generating employment and increasing transfer of business know-how and technology, [and] improving tax revenues." Likewise, he said, "we're very interested in helping American companies invest in Japan, because we think there's a role for U.S. businesses to play in helping Japan restructure its own economy and improve its own productivity."
The Japanese and U.S. governments are interested in hearing from both business communities, especially when there is a common voice. In 2002, due to requests from both communities, the two governments negotiated a new bilateral tax treaty, which had not been updated since the 1970s. "Both the Japanese and the U.S. business communities told the governments that this old-fashioned tax treaty was hindering their investments in each other's countries," he said, and this quickly relayed into "the most modern tax treaty we now have with a foreign partner."
The two governments also cooperated in the area of social security. Zumwalt explained that Japanese expatriates to the U.S. were having difficulties in particular, since they were paying into the U.S. Social Security but could not benefit from the system because they returned to Japan in less than ten years. The two governments therefore negotiated a new agreement where Japanese expatriates in the U.S. would pay into the Japanese system while they are in the U.S., and American expatriates would pay into the U.S. Social Security even while in Japan. "This is a way of reducing business cost for investors in each other's countries; a very positive agreement," he said.
As for the oft-addressed concern of whether Japan and the U.S. would again have auto-trade frictions like they had in the late 80s and early 90s, Zumwalt said, "the situation now is very different." Back then, he said, the U.S. auto industry virtually consisted of three companies: GM, Ford and Chrysler. Now it is difficult to define what an American car is, with not only "the tremendous amount of investments of Japanese, but also Korean and European manufacturers in the U.S." Toyota, for instance, is opening a new plant in San Antonio for building trucks, but they will be the only Texan truck out of all auto companies. With no clear boundary between what is American and what is Japanese, "I don't see the potential for auto friction between U.S. and Japan in the same way that it occurred 15 or 20 years ago," he said.
To the contrary, investments in the U.S. by Japanese auto companies can only be constructive. Zumwalt said that about a third of Toyota's global sales are in North America, and that their potential for growth is much bigger in North America than it is in Japan. "Japan is an aging society and the driving age population is not going to be growing; it's a saturated market. The U.S. has a growing population; we're going to be buying more and more cars in the future because we have more and more drivers," he explained. "Auto employment is going to continue, and you see a lot of healthy companies building very good products that American consumers like," he said. "I see that as a very positive thing for our relationship."
Entering the last component of his analysis of Japan-U.S. relations, Zumwalt said, "As two democracies, I think itfs very important for us not only to have good ties between our governments and our economic sphere, but I think the cultural exchange, the people-to-people ties, are also very important." He discussed his past and how he meant to study abroad in Germany but, due to an opening in the foreign exchange program to which he applied, ended up attending high school for a year in Japan. Calling this "a life-changing event," Zumwalt said, "If it weren't for that host family, and also for my host high school that was willing to take in a foreign student for one year, I wouldn't be here today because I never would've become interested in Japan." Extending on that, he said that "these kinds of programs, which are really investments in the future of our relationship, I think are very very important."
He listed some statistics pertaining to study abroad between Japan and the U.S.: he said that over 40,000 Japanese students were studying in the U.S. in 2004, up about 3.4 % over the previous year. The share of Japanese foreign students in the foreign student population has been going down, but mainly because of the increase in students from other countries such as India, China, and Korea. Likewise, while there were about 1,600 Americans studying in Japanese university programs last year, only 1% of the foreign student population in Japan, this was an increase compared to before. The U.S. Government estimates that "there's about 140,000 Americans who are now studying Japanese in the U.S., over 3,000 Japanese language teachers in the U.S., and over a 1000 institutions that teach Japanese in the U.S.," he said.
But while "the Japanese government spends a lot of effort in developing materials and trying to help Japanese language and cultural education," the main impetus for this increase, according to Zumwalt, is "this concept of what I call soft power." In the 1970s, he said that the main interest in Japanese was for academic reasons, and in the 80s, people tried to learn it because it would be advantageous in business. But now, people are interested in Japanese culture. "I'm hoping [that] through the right mix of government policies and American schools, and the right amount of support by the Japanese government and various foundations, we can continue to encourage young Americans to study Japanese and keep learning about Japan," Zumwalt said, "because these people are going to be the foundation of our relationship in the future."
Zumwalt also discussed how Japan is perceived in the State Department today, and how that reflects the changes in Japan's position in the world as a whole. When he first entered the Department, he explained, "Japan was sort of an exotic locale but out of the mainstream of the State Department; something that you needed a few experts to take care of." It was novel that Japan was included when the G8 was first formed in 1975, and when members of the Department wrote briefing papers for the Secretary, "we would have to add the words 'and Japan' after 'the West' to make it clear that Japan was included in the inner circle of places," he said.
But now, Japan has long since been recognized as a global power. Coupled with the fact that "the Japanese government and other Japanese entities have become much more adept at explaining themselves," he said that to a certain extent, the people outside of Japan who care about the nation "don't need to spend as much effort working on Japan because everyone understands that Japan is a global player." While there is no dearth of Japan experts, due to programs like the JET program which contribute to making people not only fluent in colloquial Japanese but also arm them with the knowledge of how Japanese organizations work, "the separateness of Japan is over," he said. "Japan is very much a part of the system now."
In conclusion, Zumwalt said, "our relationship is very good; we have so much potential to work together, but it does require lots of work on both sides." He is hoping to see his successors at the State Department further these efforts, but he would like cooperation from all sectors, and not just the government. "I'm hoping to continue seeing lots of interest on the part of Japanese and American companies, and also in the civil society, the NGOs, U.S. and Japanese institutions, who are all working together to help us in building a relationship that will continue in the future," he said.
The Japan You Should Know: Change, Challenge, and Response
Samuel M. Shepherd
National Association of Japan-America Societies
|The ceremony for new cherry trees at the Cherry Blossom festival hosted by the Japan-America Society of Greater Philadelphia (Mary Hunt Davis Photography)|
This series features Japan-related organizations in the Washington, DC area: about who they are, their activities, and their efforts to bring further understanding of Japan to the American community, and strengthen Japan-U.S. relations on a local level.
As the National Association of Japan-America Societies moves into its 30th year, it has witnessed critical changes in the relationship between Japan and the United States.
The rise of China, global economic developments, security threats such as North Korea and the Middle East, significant shifts in domestic political environments present the potential for both strain and opportunity.
There is no relationship in the world that can do more to address global challenges. Together we represent a huge portion of global trade, leading-edge technology, and cultural dynamism. It is a mature relationship between true partners on the world stage. Yet, in order to achieve our potential, we must make sure we know each other even better.
Japan is going through a period of dramatic transformation on almost every level. Many of these changes (economic restructuring and aging) are widely known. Others, such as those occurring in the labor force, defense, health care, education, and social policies, are less well-covered.
Many of these changes are happening at a time when "official" focus on Japan in Washington and local interest is waning. As both nations move forward it is vital that their citizens fully understand the rationale for major policies.
This is the time to bolster the relationship. A strong bilateral affiliation depends not only on high-level decisions but also on a firm grassroots understanding by citizens on whose behalf governments act.
The National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) is positioned to facilitate and support a new look at a changing Japan, not only in Washington but--equally as important--across the nation.
The NAJAS network:
The National Association of Japan-America Societies, Inc. (NAJAS) is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization and is the only national network in the United States dedicated to public education about Japan. Founded in 1978, NAJAS delivers services and resources that strengthen the capacity of some 40 Japan Societies and Japan-America Societies to carry out a shared mission to bring increased understanding between the peoples of America and Japan, and to ensure that the U.S.-Japan relationship remains in the forefront. To this end, NAJAS assists member societies in delivering speakers and programs, supports newly formed societies, maintains a "clearinghouse" website, and coordinates an Annual Meeting that includes professional development workshops as well as symposia on aspects of the U.S.-Japan relationship. The oldest Society (Boston) was formed in 1904 and the newest (Austin, Texas) in 2005.
The National Association
often collaborates with organizations on projects and programs that circulate
throughout the NAJAS network; for example, the Embassy of Japan, Keizai
Koho Center, Keidanren-U.S.A, the Japan Center for International Exchange,
the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Foundation, and the American Chamber
of Commerce in Japan. NAJAS is deeply grateful for the generous foundation
and corporate support that allows U.S. to carry out our mission.
This membership network annually presents:
In addition, Societies organize festivals and reach out to hundreds of thousands of people every year.
The collective vision of this network of Japan Societies and Japan-America Societies is to have a public well informed about Japan and the values and issues that we share as modern democracies. We invite the readers of Japan Now to get involved in the Society near you. You can access the home pages of the member societies, as well as learn more about the network, by going to the NAJAS home page: www.us-japan.org. Please feel free to contact us directly at 202-429-5545.
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