The 26th US delegation of the US-Japan Young Political Leaders Exchange Program arrived in Japan on November 7, 2009, for a study tour taking them throughout Japan over the course of two weeks. In Tokyo, the group began their visit with a meeting with US Ambassador to Japan John Roos on new directions in US policy toward Japan under the Obama Administration. Over the next several days, the delegates sat down with eight Diet members from both major Japanese political parties, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to discuss the changing Japanese political landscape. The discussions with Japanese party leaders were complemented by meetings with Japanese business leaders—including a luncheon seminar hosted by the Japan Business Federation—and representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce. The group also met with several senior officials from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and received a briefing on the role of the media in Japanese politics at the headquarters of the Asahi Shimbun, and spoke as part of a panel discussion on US politics.
The trip continued with short trips to Kanagawa, Hyogo, and Kyoto. The group first traveled to Yokohama to meet with members of the Kanagawa Prefectural Assembly to discuss local government politics and prefectural autonomy in Japan. The next day, they left for Odawara, where they met with local activists and nonprofit leaders, visited a nursing care facility, and toured an organic farm in the area. Next, the delegation departed for Hyogo Prefecture and the city of Kobe. In Hyogo, they visited a local Diet member’s district office and had the opportunity to participate in some traditional Japanese arts at a local high school. In Himeji, the delegates toured the Hirohata Works plant of Nippon Steel Corporation. Also, they paid a visit to Tomoyuki Yoshimoto, vice governor of Hyogo Prefecture, and met with several members of the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly. The trip concluded in Kyoto, where the participants toured the city’s historical and cultural heritage sites before returning to the United States.