The 1996 Diet delegation to the United States comprised seven members and a mix of parliamentarians in their first and second terms. The more senior Muneo Suzuki and Keizo Obuchi, who was named prime minister in 1998, led the group.
Discussions centered on ongoing political changes in the United States and Japan, and US-Japan security relations in the wake of the Taiwan Strait crisis. Discussions on trade were notably minimal, reflecting a change in mood and concerns at the time of the visit. Sessions with members of Congress, Congressional staff, journalists, and policy experts were vigorous and wide-ranging, and included strong expressions of enduring interest in the US-Japan relationship. Over thirteen members of Congress met the delegation, including Bob Wise (Democrat of West Virginia) and Doug Bereuter (Republican of Nebraska), chair of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. The subcommittee later hosted a special briefing on Capitol Hill for the delegation at which Bereuter, Howard Berman (Democrat of California and ranking minority member), and staff members summarized concerns about developments with China, North Korea, and other Asia Pacific countries.
Diet members had the opportunity to meet yet more members of Congress when Thomas Foley, US ambassador to Japan from 1997 and former Speaker of the House, hosted a dinner for the group at his Washington residence. This was the 20th delegation of Japanese Diet members to visit the United States under the US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange program.
House of Representatives
SEIJI MAEHARA, New Party Sakigake, Kyoto
SHIGEFUMI MATSUZAWA, New Frontier Party, Kanagawa
KEIZO OBUCHI, Advisor to the delegation; Liberal Democratic Party, Gunma
SHIGEKI SATO, New Frontier Party, Osaka
MUNEO SUZUKI, Delegation leader; Liberal Democratic Party, Hokkaido
SHUNICHI SUZUKI, Liberal Democratic Party, Iwate
House of Councillors
TSUYOSHI SAITO, Social Democratic Party