Since 1982, the Congressional Staff Exchange Program has given more than 160 senior staff the opportunity to visit Japan for an intensive one-week study program involving briefings from leading policy experts and meetings with high-level government, civil society, and private sector leaders. The program aims to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the US-Japan relationship and the dynamics of Japanese policymaking. Ultimately, this helps to enhance US policymaking by heightening understanding of the opportunities and challenges of close coordination and cooperation between the United States and Japan on the bilateral, regional, and global levels.
This year’s program covered a broad range of strategic, political, and economic issues in US-Japan relations, with several meetings dedicated to issues involving international trade and the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) pact. The 2014 delegation met with more than 75 government leaders, legislators, business executives, military officers, and foreign policy experts during their weeklong fact-finding trip to Japan. This included roundtables and meetings in which they exchanged views with nine Diet members from four different political parties; officials from Japan’s foreign and economy ministries, the US Embassy, the Office of the US Trade Representative, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government; and more than a dozen think tank experts. They also discussed ways of expanding US access to the Japanese market with nearly a dozen business executives at US companies in Japan and talked with Japanese business leaders about how to strengthen bilateral economic ties.
Outside of Tokyo, the group visited a US military base, was briefed at Japan’s National Defense Academy, and spoke with a local farmer about entrepreneurship and agriculture policy. Prior to their departure for Japan, delegation members also took part in a briefing on regional trade negotiations with Mireya Solis (Brookings Institution).
PHILLIP BROWN, Specialist in Energy Policy, Congressional Research Service
DARRELL RICO DOSS, Economic Policy Counsel, Office of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
AARON HILLER, Chief Oversight Counsel, House Committee on the Judiciary (John Conyers, D-MI)
JEFF LOWENSTEIN, Legislative Director, Office of Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA)
SPENCER PEDERSON, Legislative Assistant, Office of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)
MARY FRANCES REPKO, Senior Policy Adviser, Office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
WILLIAM G. TODD IV, Deputy Legislative Director, Office of Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
The 2014 program was made possible by funding from the Japan-US Friendship Commission, a US federal agency, and the bipartisan delegation included the following seven senior staff.