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 will be hosting a month-long mini-course consisting of online briefings and roundtables for Congressional staff to update them on the forces shaping US-Japan relations. These are designed to give 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.

This course is limited to 15 participants in order to ensure to ensure that each participant can engage in substantive discussion with the guest speakers.

JCIE annually operates  the 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. We envision this course as a way to better prepare potential participants for that travel program once in-person exchanges can resume in 2021.

This series of one-hour briefings will take place in September 2020 with meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays/Fridays for a total of eight sessions. To complete the module, we request that participants commit to attending at least six of the eight sessions to ensure that we have enough people for a substantive discussion on each day. Those who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate.

2019 Congressional Staff Exchange Participants meeting with Governor the Governor of Aichi Prefecture. Hideaki Ohmura


See below for planned session dates. Please note that topics and times may be adjusted slightly based on speaker availability.


Tuesday, September 8, 12:00–1:30 PM – Introduction: Understanding US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. SHEILA SMITH, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Thursday, September 10, 8:00–9:00 PM – 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


Tuesday, September 15, 8:00–9:00 PM – 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

Friday, September 18, 12:00–1:00 PM – The US-Japan Alliance and Asia’s Security
Guest speaker: TBC


Tuesday, September 22, 8:00–9:00 PM – Challenges & Opportunities in Japan-Korea Relations
Guest speaker: DR. YOSHIHIDE SOEYA, Professor Emiritus, Faculty of Law, Keio University

Friday, September 25, 12:00–1:00 PM –  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


Tuesday, September 29, 8:00–9:00 PM – COVID-19 & How It is Changing Japanese Society
Guest speaker: Diet member TBC

Thursday, October 1, 12:00–1:00 PM – Wrap-up: The Future of US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. GERALD CURTIS, Burgess Professor Emeritus, Columbia University


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.