Seven state and local level US political leaders visited Tokyo, Yamagata Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, and Kyoto on September 25–October 8, 2010, for an intense series of meetings and roundtables with experts from various sectors including national policymakers, business leaders, and local and state-level officials. Their visit came soon after the one-year anniversary of the majority Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) coming to power after almost 60 years of uninterrupted rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), allowing the delegation to gain insights into how Japanese politics has changed at both the local and national level since this historic shift.
During the course of their two-week visit, the delegation met with 10 leading Diet members from both major parties, including DPJ Administration Committee Chair Makoto Taki and DPJ International Dept. Director-General Chinami Nishimura, as well as LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki and former LDP Secretary-General Koichi Kato.
While in Tokyo, the group’s meetings with party leaders were complemented with discussions on Japan’s foreign policy agenda with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and with a journalist from Nikkei newspaper. The group also paid a visit to the US Embassy to meet with US Ambassador John Roos and other senior embassy officials. Then, to gain a wide perspective on the Japanese economy and business climate, the group spoke with Japanese business leaders in a meeting hosted by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and visited the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The delegation also acted as panelists in a seminar at the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership on US public sentiment on domestic politics and foreign policy heading into the midterm elections in the United States.
After six days in Tokyo, the delegates traveled to Yamagata Prefecture, where they were hosted by Representative Kato’s district office. They met with Governor Mieko Yoshimura, Yamagata’s first female governor, and spoke with local Diet members and prefectural assembly members. The US delegation, which included several city mayors, also met with local leaders from the area, including Tsuruoka City Mayor Masaki Enomoto and representatives from the Tsuruoka Chamber of Commerce, and observed local campaigning by members of the LDP’s Youth Division in Nanoka-machi, Yamagata City.
In Aichi prefecture, where their visit was facilitated by the district office of Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Motohisa Furukawa, the delegation met with a range of local leaders, including Nagoya City Mayor Takashi Kawamura, and toured a Toyota automotive plant. The delegation concluded their trip with a tour of Kyoto before returning to the United States.
BENJAMIN DAVID, District Attorney, Fifth Judicial District, North Carolina (Democrat)
EVAN LOW, Mayor, City of Campbell, California (Democrat)
RENEE SCHULTE, Member, Iowa House of Representatives (Republican)
KIRK TALBOT, Member, Louisiana House of Representatives (Republican)
LORI WARD, Political Consultant, Dax Swatek & Associates, Alabama (Republican)
YVETE WILLIAMS, Manager, Political Programs, Johnson & Johnson (Democrat)
ANDY McKENZIE, Mayor, City of Wheeling, West Virginia (Republican)