The US-Japan alliance is a central pillar of America’s Asia strategy and it affects almost every aspect of the US approach to the region. Japan is the most important US defense partner in Asia, hosting 130 US military bases and facilities and more than 54,000 American service members, along with the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet. As the world’s third largest economy, Japan is the fourth greatest trade partner and the third leading source of foreign direct investment into the United States. A world leader in technology, science, and culture, it boasts the most established democracy in East Asia and is a key US partner in confronting a range of global challenges.

Building on its 50-year history of hosting exchanges and dialogues for Congressional members, Diet members, Congressional staff, and others, JCIE has created a month-long mini-course consisting of online briefings and roundtables for Congressional staff to update them on the forces shaping US-Japan relations. This course is designed to provide  Congressional staff who cover Asia policy issues the opportunity to speak with some of the world’s top experts on US-Japan security, trade, and political issues.

The course is a supplement to JCIE’s  US Congressional Staff Exchange, which has brought nearly 200 aides from both sides of the aisle to Japan to travel around the country for high-level meetings and site visits and serves as a way to better prepare potential participants for that travel program once in-person exchanges can resume in 2021.

The first session of this course took place in September 2020 with two meetings a week with a variety of experts from both Japan and the US, who provided their insights on key issues for the relationship, including trade, security, and domestic Japanese politics.

The next session is planned to take place in early 2021, please keep an eye on this page for more information about when the course launches and how to apply to participate.

2020 course participants during the introductory session with Dr. Sheila A. Smith

September 2020 Course Schedule


Introduction: Understanding US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. SHEILA SMITH, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

– The North Korea Challenge & the Future of Northeast Asia
Guest speaker: MR. HITOSHI TANAKA, Chairman, Institute for International Strategy; Senior Fellow, JCIE; former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs


 Managing Relations with China
Guest speaker: DR. AKIO TAKAHARA, Dean, Graduate School of Public Policy and Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics, Graduate School of Law and Politics, The University of Tokyo

The US-Japan Alliance and Asia’s Security
Guest speakers: MR. JAMES SCHOFF, Senior Fellow, Asia Program  , Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and RADM (ret). JAMES D. KELLY, former Commander, US nNaval Forces Japan; Dean Emiritus, US Naval War College


 Challenges & Opportunities in Japan-Korea Relations
Guest speaker: DR. YOSHIHIDE SOEYA, Professor Emiritus, Faculty of Law, Keio University

  US-Japan Trade Relations
Guest speaker: DR. MIREYA SOLIS, Director, Center for East Asia Policy Studies & Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, The Brookings Institution


 The Future of US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. GERALD CURTIS, Burgess Professor Emeritus, Columbia University

 COVID-19 & How It is Changing Japanese Society
Guest speaker: HON. KEIZO TAKEMI, Member House of Councillors (LDP); former Senior Vice Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare


As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1975 in New York, JCIE/USA works in close partnership with JCIE/Japan in Tokyo, organizing exchanges for American and Japanese political leaders, sponsoring policy dialogues, and building ties among nonprofit organizations. Its broad networks enable it to bring together key players from different sectors—political leaders, government officials, policy experts, business executives, social entrepreneurs, and NGO leaders—to tackle the complex global issues facing our countries.

More than 1,000 Americans and Japanese political leaders have traveled to one another’s countries on JCIE’s political exchange programs, and JCIE has organized scores of policy dialogues that have served as a catalyst for US-Japan cooperation, from high-level discussions on US-Japan security and trade in the 1970s and 1980s to ones focused on global health security, women’s leadership, and other pressing challenges in recent years. In recognition of its work to strengthen US-Japan relations, JCIE/USA was the recipient of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation by the Government of Japan in 2004.

This Congressional staff  program has been made possible through the generous support of the Japan-US Friendship Commission, an independent federal agency dedicated to strengthening the US-Japan relationship through educational, cultural, and intellectual exchange.