2013 Japanese Diet Delegation to the US

April 30-May 3, 2013
Washington DC

A bipartisan JCIE delegation of three up-and-coming Diet members and four of Japan’s most promising younger policy experts visited Washington DC on April 30—May 3, meeting with more than three dozen foreign policy experts, political analysts, and government officials. During their visit, they were the featured speakers at the Tadashi Yamamoto Memorial Seminar at the Council on Foreign Relations, and were welcomed to Washington at a reception in the US Capitol Building that convened 150 key figures in American politics and US-Japan relations. This was the 26th delegation of Diet members to visit the United States under JCIE’s US-Japan Parliamentary Exchange.

Participants

YASUSHI ADACHI, Member of the House of Representatives, Japan Restoration Party

SEIJI KIHARA, Member of the House of Representatives, Liberal Democratic Party

TAKAO OCHI, Member of the House of Representatives, LDP

YUICHI HOSOYA, Professor, Keio University

SATORU MORI, Professor, Hosei University

RYO SAHASHI, Associate Professor, Kanagawa University; Research Fellow, JCIE

HARUKATA TAKENAKA, Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

The group’s discussions were wide-ranging, but four topics came up repeatedly:

Dysfunctional domestic politics:

Most of the delegation members have been involved in a major JCIE study that examines the phenomenon of weak political leadership and domestic political instability in Japan. In a series of roundtables, US scholars and former Congressional members remarked that American politics have also become deeply dysfunctional, in large part due to the spread of corrosive partisanship and a steady erosion of the powers of political parties and Congressional leaders. While the roots of these challenges facing Japanese and US politics differ considerably, one common factor has been the changing nature of media coverage, which has helped to fuel further political instability in both countries.

Disputes over war history:

The experts and officials that the group spoke with felt that US-Japan relations are strong, but concerns about the Abe administration’s stance on Japan’s war history came up in every meeting. There was a strong sense from Washington DC experts across the political spectrum that Japan should refrain from any moves that roll back the apologies for its wartime aggression or further inflame tensions with its Asian neighbors. The delegation members remarked that Prime Minister Abe has some advisors urging him to take a nationalistic tack while others are arguing for more pragmatic approaches, but he is unlikely to wade any deeper into the debate over history issues this year, primarily to avoid taking the focus off of his economic agenda.

Territorial issues:

To some degree, the debate over “history issues” has become intertwined with the narrative surrounding the territorial disputes that neighboring countries have with Japan. Delegation members noted that Japan only aims to maintain the status quo on territorial issues in its relations with China and Korea, arguing that the Japanese government has sought to avoid actions that might be perceived as aggressive regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu and Takeshima/Dokdo Islands. Their American counterparts were sympathetic to the argument that China and Korea bear considerable responsibility for recent tensions on these issues, but they remain deeply concerned that a maritime accident, particularly in the vicinity of the Senkakus, could lead to an uncontrolled escalation of tensions and draw the United States into a conflict with China.

One expert summed up the general consensus by explaining that Japan improves its position by being seen as the party in these disputes that is going the extra mile to be calm and conciliatory. Of course, he noted, the more debate there is over war history, the more that Japan’s stance on these territorial issues is undermined in the eyes of Americans and the rest of the international community. One area where the delegation members felt progress can be made is in the territorial dispute with Russia over the so-called “Northern Territories” or Kuril Islands. There have been positive signs from both Japan and Russia on this recently, and they felt that a successful resolution of this dispute is feasible over the next several years, which in turn might help improve the dynamics involving other territorial issues.

TPP and trade:

The delegation and their US counterparts were markedly positive about the prospects for the successful ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The Japanese side felt that, while rallying domestic political support for TPP will be the first major test of Prime Minister Abe’s power, his government is focused on its long-term strategic implications and will succeed in pushing the final agreement through the Diet. Several of the Diet members noted that the key factor will be the scope and contents of the agricultural support package that the Abe administration will need to announce as compensation for farming communities that will suffer under TPP. As one expert noted, special interest lobbies that traditionally back the LDP, notably including the agricultural lobby and the Japan Medical Association, have lost power in recent years, which will enable the Abe administration to resist their entreaties this time. American experts also felt that TPP has a strong chance of being successfully negotiated and ratified, although many thought that the October deadline for negotiations will need to be extended. One added that, since the are losing the argument on the merits the trade deal, American opponents to TPP may be tempted to highlight the controversy over Japan’s war history to rally opposition to the overall deal, and this approach will gain more traction the longer that history issues stay in the spotlight.

Tuesday, April 30

Arrival in Washington, DC

Briefing: “Legislative Challenges in the US Congress”

Dr. Thomas Mann, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution

 Roundtable with former US Congressional Members

The Hon. Bill Frenzel, Guest Scholar, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution; former Member, US House of Representatives
The Hon. James R. Jones, Chairman & CEO, MannatJones Global Strategies, LLC; former US Ambassador to Mexico; former Member, US House of Representatives; former Chairman, House Budget Committee; former Appointments Secretary (White House Chief of Staff) to President Lyndon B. Johnson

Dinner with the American Council for Young Political Leaders & the Japanese Delegation of the US-Japan Young Political Leaders Exchange Program

Wednesday, May 1

Breakfast Meeting on the US Policy Support System with Congressional Staff

Mr. Robert E. Primus, Chief of Staff, Office of Representative Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)
Mr. Peter J. Freeman, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Representative Ed Royce (House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman)

The Dynamics of US-China-Japan Trilateral Relations

Dr. Richard C. Bush, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies; Director, Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Mireya Solis, Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies and Senior Fellow, Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution; Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University

Roundtable with Young Leaders in US-Japan Relations hosted by the German Marshall Fund

Host: Dr. Daniel Kliman, Transatlantic Fellow for Asia, German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)
Dr. Emiliano Alessandri, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, GM
Ms. Janie Boschma, Reporter, Yomiuri Shimbun
Mr. Alex Forster, Program Assistant, US-Japan-South Korea Legislative Exchange Program, George Washington University
Mr. Nicholas Hamisevicz, Director of Research and Academic Affairs, Korea Economic Institute of America
Mr. Kentaro Nakajima, Correspondent, Yomiuri Shimbun
Mr. Darren Lim, PhD Candidate, Princeton University
Ms. Rieko Mitchell, Senior Accounts Payable Specialist, GMF
Mr. Josh Raisher, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Dr. Iskander Rehman, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Mr. Guy Snodgrass, Department of Defense
Ms. Sharon Stirling-Woolsey, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Mr. Andrew Taffer, Long Term Strategy Group
Mr. Dan Twining, Senior Fellow for Asia, GMF

 Visit to Office of US Congressman Michael E. Capuano

The US Rebalance to Asia

Mr. Matthew Goodman, former White House coordinator for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS); William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Dr. Michael Green, former Senior Director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council; Japan Chair, CSIS
Mr. Nick Szechenyi, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Office of the Japan Chair, CSIS

Capitol Hill Welcome Reception

Remarks by:

Dr. Gerald Curtis, Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
The Hon. Takeo Kawamura, Member, House of Representatives; former Chief Cabinet Secretary
The Hon. Norman Mineta, Vice Chairman, Hill & Knowlton; former US Secretary of Transportation; former Member, US House of Representatives
Amb. Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States, Embassy of Japan
Emcee: Mr. James Gannon, Executive Director, JCIE/USA

Post Reception Dinner

Thursday, May 2

Tadashi Yamamoto Memorial Seminar: Japan’s Political Change and the US-Japan Alliance

Host: Dr. Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

State Department Briefing

Mr. Marc E. Knapper, Director, Office of Japanese Affairs, US Department of State
Ms. Elizabeth A. Gee, Economic Officer, Office of Japanese Affairs, US Department of State
Ms. JoEllen Gorg, Political Security Officer, Office of Japanese Affairs, US Department of State

 Embassy Dinner Hosted by DCM Koji Tomita

Friday, May 3

Depart Washington, DC

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