1. Current State of Japan-U. S. relations

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Japan-U.S. Relations

December 1, 2004

Embassy of Japan
1. Current State of Japan-U.S. relations
On September 8, 1951, Japan and the allied countries including the United States signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, formally ending WW II and starting a new era of Japan-U.S. relations. Since then, Japan and the U.S. have overcome many challenges together and developed their relationship into “the most important bilateral relationship, bar none” (the late Senator Michael J. Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan). Japan-U.S. relations are based on shared interests and also on shared values and principles such as freedom and democracy. In the history of the world, it would be difficult to find two other nations who engaged in war and have so rapidly established such a strong partnership like Japan and the United States.

The Signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty

Bettmann/CORBIS/Corbis Japan
The majority of both Japanese and U.S. nationals have excellent views on Japan-U.S. relations. A poll released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan on July 15, 2004 showed that 68% of the U.S. “general public“ group and 89% of the U.S. “opinion leaders” group regarded Japan as “a dependable ally or friend." (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/pressreleases/2004/040715.htm)
[Related Links]

  • Embassy of Japan: Japan-U.S. Relations (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/japanus/index.htm)

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/index.html)

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Relations 1945-1997 Chronology (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/relation.html)

Japan-U.S. Summit Meetings and Foreign Ministers’ Meetings

Based on their “U.S.-Japan alliance in the global context” concept, the United States and Japan are building significantly interdependent and cooperative relationships across a broad range of areas in the political, security, economic and global cooperation, including the fight against terrorism. Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush have already met twelve times, and closely exchanged views on a variety of issues at the highest level. In specific terms, the following are details of the U.S.-Japan summit meetings, and the meetings between Japan's Foreign Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State.

Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush

(06/08/04, Sea Island)

Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
(1) Summit Meetings between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush
June 30, 2001 (Camp David): The first summit between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush. They agreed to strengthen the strategic dialogue between the two countries and proposed the “U.S.-Japan economic partnership for growth.” They also agreed to cooperate on global issues. They announced a joint communiqué entitled the “Partnership for Security and Prosperity.”

September 25, 2001 (Washington, DC): Prime Minister Koizumi went to New York immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks (9/24). He then met with President Bush to express their joint resolve to wipe out terrorism in Washington, DC.

October 20, 2001 (Shanghai): Bilateral summit meeting on the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

February 18, 2002 (Tokyo): Bilateral summit meeting held during President Bush's visit to Japan. The leaders confirmed the importance of cooperation between the two countries on the war on terrorism, the U.S.-Japan alliance, and regional and global issues. During his visit, President Bush also had an audience and banquet with His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, and delivered a speech before the Japanese Diet.

June 25, 2002 (Kananaskis): Bilateral summit meeting on the occasion of the G8 Summit in Canada.

September 12, 2002 (New York): Prime Minister Koizumi visited the U.S. on the occasion of the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The leaders discussed issues related to Iraq and Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to North Korea.

May 22-23, 2003 (Crawford, Texas): President Bush invited Prime Minister Koizumi to his ranch where the two leaders spent many hours together and deepened their trust. Their talks took place in a very open and frank atmosphere. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of U.S.-Japan relations, the leaders confirmed their commitment to strengthening the “Japan-U.S. alliance in the global context.” They engaged in frank exchange of views on missile defense, the economy, the fight against terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, North Korea, Iraq, the Middle East, United Nations reform, and the use of Yokota Airbase for both military and civilian purposes. On the morning of the 23rd, at the urging of the President, Prime Minister Koizumi along with Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe attended the President's regular intelligence briefing.

October 17, 2003 (Tokyo): Prime Minister Koizumi held a summit meeting with President Bush during his visit to Japan. The concept of the “Japan-U.S. Alliance in the global context” played an important role in every aspect of their discussion. The two leaders held discussions from the perspective that the Japan-U.S. alliance is very strong and has been contributing to world peace. They confirmed that Japan and the United States will closely cooperate with each other in tackling various issues such as reconstruction of Iraq and North Korea's nuclear issues, while maintaining cooperation with other countries.

June 11, 2004 (Sea Island): Prime Minister Koizumi had a bilateral meeting with President on the occasion of the G8 Summit Meeting. The Prime Minister expressed his condolences over the passing of former President Reagan, emphasizing his significant role in developing the Japan-U.S. alliance. He stated his intention to endeavor for the successful reconstruction of Iraq through the continued dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in a manner welcomed by the Iraqi Interim Government as well as financial assistance through the government's official development assistance (ODA). President Bush stated that he highly values the contribution of Japan. Prime Minister Koizumi conveyed to President Bush that at the Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting on May 22, Mr. Kim Jong-Il, Chairman of the National Defense Committee of North Korea expressed his wish to talk with the U.S. President Bush stated his intention to work toward a resolution of the outstanding issues through the Six-Party Talks. The two leaders also agreed to keep in contact concerning the matter of Mr. Charles R. Jenkins, husband of Mrs. Hitomi Soga, one of the returned abductees. Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush also exchanged opinions on such issues as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), nuclear development of Iran, and United Nations reform.

September 21 (New York): Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had a bilateral meeting with the President in New York on the occasion of the 59th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He also explained his meetings with the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of the Republic of Iraq, Ayad Allawi, and the President of the Traditional Administration of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. Prime Minister Koizumi emphasized his firm resolve to continue to make efforts for the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush highly appreciated Japan’s support for both Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, the Prime Minister expressed his condolences for American hostages killed in Iraq. On the issue of North Korea, the two leaders confirmed the importance of the continuation of Six-Party Talks. Prime Minister Koizumi said to President Bush that Japan is ready to assume responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, emphasizing the importance of the United Nations reforms and Japan’s role in the maintenance of international peace and security. The President reaffirmed that the position of the United States has been unchanged. Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush also discussed the review of the global military posture by the United States and the review of force structure of U.S. forces in Japan. The talks were held in a frank and relaxed manner reflecting their friendship.

November 20 (Santiago, Chile): Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with the President in Santiago, Chile, where the 12th meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was held. During the 35-minute meeting, they focused on important issues such as North Korea, Iraq, the transformation of the U.S. military forces and the economy. On the issue of North Korea, President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi reconfirmed their determination to continue to place importance on the Six-Party Talks process and their effort to pursue a diplomatic solution to dismantle all the nuclear programs of North Korea. On the issue of Iraq, Prime Minister Koizumi stated that Japan intended to continue to do as much as it could and that he would like President Bush to leave it to Japan to decide what kind of assistance Japan should provide, and the President agreed. They also agreed upon the importance of further strengthening the framework of international cooperation to deal with the issue of Iraq. The Prime Minister also appreciated the U.S. support during the hostage incident involving a Japanese national. On the issue of transformation of the U.S. military forces, Prime Minister Koizumi emphasized the importance of maintaining the deterrence capability of U.S. forces in Japan and also of reducing the burden that the U.S. bases are imposing on Japanese communities, including in Okinawa. President Bush reiterated the strategic importance of the presence of U.S. forces in stabilizing the Asia-Pacific region. Both leaders agreed to continue close consultations. On the issue of the economy, President Bush stated that the United State was committed to a strong dollar and that he would work with Congress to reduce the short-term and long-term deficit. Prime Minister Koizumi agreed with the view that a strong dollar has a beneficial impact on the U.S. economy and is also important for the world economy.

In addition, the Japan-U.S.-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting was held during the APEC Summit at Los Cabos in October 2002. Also, the two leaders have consulted numerous times by phone.

(2) Foreign Ministers’ Meetings between Foreign Minister Machimura and Secretary of State Powell

 October 7, 2004 (Washington D.C.): First Meeting with Secretary Powell

 October 24, 2004 (Tokyo): Second Meeting with Secretary Powell in less than three weeks after the first meeting

[Related Links]

  • Embassy of Japan: VIP Visits (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/visit/2004/index.htm)

2. Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements
The Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements are based upon the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty signed in 1951. They have led to peace and prosperity in Japan and the Far East and have also functioned effectively as a fundamental framework for stability and development throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where instability and uncertainty still exist even after the Cold War. The forward deployment of the U.S. forces is critical in deterring contingencies in this region.
The Signing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (1951)

Bettman/CORBIS/Corbis Japan
Japan spends about $6 billion per year in the stationing costs of U.S. Forces in Japan (so-called “host nation support”). Japan’s commitment is represented by the spending of $150,000 per year for each U.S. service member in Japan.
Japan and the United States have made numerous efforts to enhance the credibility of their security arrangements. At the Japan-U.S. Summit meeting held in 1996, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton issued the “Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security Alliance for the 21st Century," (www.jda.go.jp/e/policy/f_work/sengen_.htm) which laid basis for the future posture towards the Japan-U.S. alliance. In this regard, in 1997, Japan and the United States revised the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation (www.jda.go.jp/e/policy/f_work/sisin4_.htm) to build up a solid basis for more effective and credible Japan-U.S. cooperation under normal circumstances, an armed attack against Japan, and contingencies in the areas surrounding Japan which have a significant influence on Japan’s peace and security (it is officially called “situations in areas surrounding Japan”). To secure the effectiveness of the new Guideline, the Law Relating to Measures for Preserving the Peace and Security of Japan in the Event of a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan and the Ship Inspection Operations Law were passed in May 1999 and in December 2000 respectively.
In June 2002, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to strengthen their security dialogue in various levels in order to set the direction of future security cooperation. As was confirmed in the December 2002 so-called “2 Plus 2” meeting (U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee attended by the heads of the Defense and Foreign Ministries with their U.S. counterparts), the two countries agree to continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation under the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements toward the future (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/pressreleases/2002/121602.htm).
Since December 1998, Japan and the United States have been conducting joint research on ballistic missile defense (BMD). In December 2003, considering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, Japan's cabinet decided to equip Japan with a multi-tiered ballistic missile defense system, including the Aegis BMD System and the Patriot PAC-3 system. (Note: The system that is the subject of the joint research differs from the systems being currently introduced. This system is aimed at improved capabilities in the future using interceptor missiles.)
Minimizing the impact of U.S. forces' activities in Japan on residents living in the vicinity of U.S. facilities and areas is an important issue to ensure the smooth operation of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements. The U.S. government has emphasized the importance of “good neighbor” relations between U.S. forces and residents in Japan. Japan and the United States are cooperating closely in implementing various measures to facilitate the smooth activities of U.S. forces stationed in Japan and to reduce the impact on local communities. In particular, it is vital to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa, where U.S. facilities and areas are highly concentrated. The Japanese and U.S. governments are working on the steady implementation of the Final Report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) (www.jda.go.jp/e/policy/SACO/saco_.htm) drawn up in 1996. As was reaffirmed at the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting on June 30, 2002 and the “2 Plus 2” meeting on December 16, 2002, Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate in reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa.
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Japan considers the fight against terrorism as its own and has been vigorously taking various anti-terrorism measures. Japan-U.S. security cooperation was further deepened by support and cooperation under the provisions of the “Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.” Specfically, Japan dispatched destroyers and supply ships to the Indian Ocean, mainly to provide at-sea refueling for U.S. and British naval vessels conducting anti-terrorism operations. The Air Self-Defense Force of Japan has also provided airlift support to the U.S. forces. This logistic support for the U.S. Forces has a great significance in enhancing the credibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.
In November 2003, President Bush announced that the U.S. was reviewing the global military posture in light of the new security environment and wished to strengthen the consultative dialogue on foreign military posture with the U.S. Congress, allies, and friendly countries. Japan and the United States have taken advantage of a number of opportunities for consultations for the ongoing review of global posture of U.S. troops.
[Related Links]

  • Embassy of Japan: Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/japanus/security.htm)

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/index.html)

  • Japan Defense Agency: Japan’s Defense Policy (www.jda.go.jp/e/policy/f_work/f_work_.htm)

3. Japan-U.S. Economic Relations
Japan and the United States are major trading partners. The United States is Japan's largest trading partner. In 2003, Japan’s imports from the United States account for 15.4% of Japan's total imports. Japan's exports to the United States make up 24.6% of Japan's total exports. For the United States, Japan accounts for 9.4% / 7.2% of the U.S. imports / exports, respectively. Japan is the largest trading partner of the United States among all the non-NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) member nations and the largest importer of the U.S. farm products. Also, Japan's foreign direct investment in the U.S. totals $150 billion, creating jobs for 800,000 Americans.

World’s GDP 2003

As the two largest economies in the world, which share approximately 42% of the world GDP, Japan and the United States have important responsibilities for the growth and stability of the global economy. As the amount of trade and investment between Japan and the United States increases, the two economies increasingly become interdependent, which inevitably creates opportunities as well as challenges. Given these factors, Japan and the United States launched the “U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth” (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/pmv0106/joint_e.html) in June 2001. The objective of the Partnership is “to promote sustainable growth in both countries as well as the world” by addressing such issues as macroeconomic policies, trade, investment, regulation, and financial issues and by creating fora such as the Sub-Cabinet Economic Dialogue to discuss various economic issues. Based on the Partnership, Japan and the United States have been closely cooperating to tackle bilateral, regional and global issues under multi-layered mechanisms for dialogue from the top leadership to working levels. For example, under the Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative, which is one of the fora established under the above-mentioned Partnership, the Japanese and U.S. governments have conducted frank and constructive exchange of views on regulations and competition policy. They have made significant progress in reducing regulations, enhancing competition, and improving market access (Third Report on June 2004 [PDF] (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/report0406.pdf)).
While Japan's long-term economic prospects are considered promising, Japan was in its slowest period of economic growth since World War II in the 1990s. The Koizumi administration is committed to addressing such economic issues as non-performing loans and deflation, and to conduct regulatory and other structural reforms, in order to revive the Japanese economy. On October 30, 2002, the Japanese government announced the Comprehensive Measures to Accelerate Reforms (www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/japan/measure0210-f.html) and the Program for Financial Revival (www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/japan/program0210.html).
Latest economic statistics indicate that the Japanese economy is growing steadily, while some weak movements are seen recently. Japan’s real GDP advanced at an annual rate of 0.3% (0.0% in nominal terms) in the third quarter of 2004. It also achieved growth of 3.2% in fiscal year 2003, exceeding the government’s estimate (2.0%). High growth is expected to continue in 2004. Non-performing loans (NPLs) declined to 4.7% of outstanding loans at the major banks as of September 2004. (It was 8.4% in March 2002 and the government’s goal is to reduce it to the 4% level by March 2005.) The Nikkei stock index reached a level of 12,000 JPY this April, rising more than 50% over the past year. The unemployment rate declined to 4.7% in October 2004, almost the lowest level in the past four years.
[Related Links]

  • Embassy of Japan: Japan-U.S. Economic Relations (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/japanus/economy.htm)

  • Embassy of Japan: Japanese Economy (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/profile/jecon/2004/index.htm)

  • Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry: Japan-U.S. Relations (www.meti.go.jp/english/information/data/JUSrelation/cJUSrele.html)

4. Japan-U.S. Cooperation on Global Issues
As the two largest economies in the world, which share approximately 42% of the world GDP, the United States and Japan have closely collaborated on a vast array of global issues such as AIDS, population problems, and children’s health.

United States-Japan Initiative

World Water Forum 2003
The two countries launched the “Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective” (the Common Agenda) in July 1993 (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/agenda/gpers.html) to jointly seek solutions to global problems such as increasingly pressing environmental degradation, overpopulation, and damage from both natural and man-made disasters. The Common Agenda consists of four pillars: promoting health and human development; responding to challenges to global stability; protecting the global environment; and advancing science and technology. Under these four pillars, approximately 100 projects in 18 specific areas have been conducted to date.

At the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held at Camp David on June 30, 2001, Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush agreed to expand their cooperation on global challenges. On September 4, 2002, in support of the commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell jointly announced the “Clean Water for People” Initiative (A United States-Japan Partnership to Provide Safe Water and Sanitation to the World's Poor) (www.mofa.go.jp/policy/environment/wssd/2002/document/us.html).

Also, Japan, the United States, and Saudi Arabia issued the Joint Press Statement on Road Construction in Afghanistan (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/political/roadconstruction.htm), committing a total of $180 million toward a project to reconstruct the transportation network in Afghanistan as part of an effort to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a hotbed for terrorists.
[Related Links]

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan-US Cooperation on Global Challenges (www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/agenda/index.html)

  • Embassy of Japan: Japan-US Cooperation on Global Challenges (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/japanus/globalissues.htm)

5. 150th Anniversary of Japan-U.S. Relations

The relationship between Japan and the United States began in 1853 with the arrival in Uraga of the black ships commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry, which was followed by the signing of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Peace and Amity in 1854. Accordingly, the years 2003 and 2004 mark the 150th anniversary of these events.
From those initial encounters to the present, Japan and the United States have overcome various trials and deepened exchange in a broad range of fields, including politics, economics and culture, while forging the excellent friendly and cooperative ties that exist today. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of this relationship, an important milestone in history, it is hoped that the two countries will be able to further deepen mutual understanding and friendship between their peoples through lively implementation of various exchange projects and build an even more productive relationship for the future.
[Related Links]

  • Embassy of Japan (www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/usjapan150/150-links.htm)

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mofa.go.jp)

  • National Association of Japan-America Societies (www.japanus150.org)

  • Japan's Japan-America Society 150 Anniversary official website (www.usjapan150.org)

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