August 25, 2016
The Pacific Forum Young Leaders program is built on the premise that an international network of young Asia security experts will pay dividends for peace in future years when they are able to discuss contentious issues in times of crisis with people they already know. This volume is a collection of op-ed length policy pieces by our Young Leaders on the US-Japan relationship. As a cornerstone of US foreign policy for more than 70 years, the US-Japan partnership needs to continue to evolve to meet new regional and global challenges. The Pacific Forum Young Leaders propose ways to invigorate the partnership and to build a stronger US-Japan relationship.
The pieces selected for this volume have been written by seven Young Leaders based in the US and Japan who attended US-Japan focused events in the first half of 2016. With the generous support of the Japan-US Friendship Commission and Worldwide Support for Development (WSD-Handa), Pacific Forum was able to bring the next generation of US-Japan specialists to international expert-level discussions in New York, Washington, and Tokyo. They emerged from their experience with a richer network of friends and colleagues and new exposure to some of the challenges and opportunities facing the US-Japan alliance. We are grateful to the JUSFC and WSD-Handa organizations for their support of the Young Leaders program and their tireless efforts to build bridges between the United States and Japan.
This publication is especially timely as both Japan and the US are experiencing domestic tumult. Both Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President Barack Obama have spoken publicly about the strength of the US-Japan relationship and the US commitment to protecting and supporting Japan while advocating for Tokyo to contribute more to regional peace and security. During his speech before the US Congress on April 29, 2015, Prime Minister Abe emphasized his desire that the US and Japan “join our hands together and our best to make the world a better, a much better, place to live.” In May 2016, during President Obama’s visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, he said “the Japan-US alliance…has to be an alliance of hope for the world.”
The alliance has been and will continue to be strong but it cannot be taken for granted. While young people in the US remain enthusiastic about engagement with Japan, young people in Japan are becoming less interested in Japan’s foreign policy and look increasingly inward. Pacific Forum takes pride in bringing together young Japanese and US professionals to encourage them to support each other and the alliance. Our Young Leaders Program provides a platform where their voices can be heard and encourages creative thinking about this vital partnership. The next generation’s innovation will help the alliance to overcome current and future challenges and to continuously grow. We hope our readers will gain new ideas for future US-Japan cooperation, that this volume will inspire increased engagement and participation from our Japanese Young Leaders, and promote a better understanding of the values of the US-Japan partnership.