Japan

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Overview

Japan has long represented one of the most important countries in US foreign affairs. Relations between the two countries have ranged from outright warfare during World War II to close cooperation during the Cold War and after. Following the end of the Second World War, the US played a dominant role in rebuilding and restructuring Japan’s political and economic systems, in an effort to prevent the former enemiy from ever becoming a military threat to the United States. As part of the post-war reorganization, severe limitations on the development of Japan’s military were imposed in the US-approved constitution adopted by Japanese officials. During the Cold War, Japan played a key role in American security efforts in the Pacific by allowing US troops and naval vessels to be staged on Japan’s islands—a situation that continues even today.

 
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Japan’s leaders built their country into an economic powerhouse that soon rivaled the economy of the United States. During the 1980s, tensions arose over Japan’s perceived economic superiority, its “buying up” of America and a severe trade deficit that hurt the US economy. These economic-based troubles cooled during the 1990s as Japan endured a long and difficult economic decline. Things have rebounded for Japan this decade, however the upswing has not produced a replication of the difficult trade relations with the US during the 1980s, thanks to changes in trade and security priorities for the two countries and the emergence of China as an economic force in Asia. The longstanding trade deficit continues, however, without the hue and cry from American officials.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Japan is an island nation, forming a 2,000-mile archipelago along the coast of east Asia. Of its 3,330 islands, about 400 are inhabited; the four main islands are Hokkaido in the north, Kyushu and Shikoku in the south, and the large, heavily populated island of Honshu in the center. The terrain is generally mountainous, sprinkled with volcanoes such as the sacred, 12,000-foot Mt. Fuji. Only one fifth of the land is suitable for cultivation or urban development.

 
Population: 127.3 million
 
Religions: Shinto 83.6%, Buddhist 71.1%, other (Tenrikyo, Seichounoie, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, Perfect Liberty) 7.8%, Christian 2.3%, Muslim 0.09%. The excess over 100% reflects the fact that the vast majority of people practice Shintoism in addition to other religions. 
 
Ethnic Groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other (Ainu et. al.) 0.6%.
 
Languages: Japanese (official) 95.1%, Okinawan 0.7%, Korean 0.5%, Yaeyama 0.04%, Ainu (nearly extinct). There are 15 living languages in Japan.
 

 

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History
The earliest recorded history for Japan begins around the 4th century with the Yamato clan managing to gain control of other family groups in central and western Japan. Buddhism was first introduced to Japan at about this time through contact with Korea. Through the 700s Japan was influenced by China, and the Yamato clan set up an imperial court similar to that of China.
 
Warrior clans rose to prominence as a distinct class known as samurai. In 1192, the Minamoto clan set up a military government under Yoritomo, who was designated shogun (military dictator). Shoguns ruled over Japan for the next 700 years.
 
First contact with the West came in 1542 from members of a Portuguese ship that had veered off course and arrived in Japanese waters. Portuguese traders, Jesuit missionaries, and Spanish, Dutch, and English traders followed. Suspicious of Christianity and Portuguese support of a local Japanese revolt, the shoguns of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) prohibited all trade with foreign countries. The only exception was a Dutch trading post at Nagasaki that was permitted to remain. Western attempts to renew trading relations failed until 1853 when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed an American fleet into Tokyo Bay. Trade with the West was forced upon Japan under terms less than favorable to the Japanese. Strife caused by these actions brought down the feudal world of the shoguns. In 1868, the emperor Meiji came to the throne, and the shogun system was abolished.
 
Japan quickly made the transition from a medieval to a modern power. An imperial army was established with conscription, and parliamentary government was formed in 1889. Efforts to expand Japan’s power soon followed. After a brief war with China in 1894–1895, Japan acquired Formosa (Taiwan), the Pescadores Islands, and part of southern Manchuria. China also recognized the independence of Korea (Chosen), which Japan later annexed in 1910.
 
In 1904–05, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, gaining the territory of southern Sakhalin (Karafuto) and Russia’s port and rail rights in Manchuria. During World War I, Japan seized Germany’s Pacific islands and leased areas in China. The Treaty of Versailles then awarded Japan a mandate over the islands.
 
In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria and seized control from China, creating the puppet state, “Manchukuo,” under Chinese Emperor Henry Pu-Yi, the last of China’s Manchu dynasty. On November 25, 1936, Japan joined with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers. The following year, Japan attacked the rest of China, followed by the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. The surprise assault, along with numerous other victories, positioned Japan as a dominant power in the Pacific. Japan’s supremacy was short-lived, however. Beginning in 1942, the United States began to retake island territories seized by Japan. By 1945 US forces were preparing for a full-scale invasion of Japan when a single US Air Force B-29 bomber flew over the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. A single atomic bomb was released over the city, obliterating it and killing 140,000 people. Three days later another atom bomb was dropped, this time over Nagasaki, killing 80,000. The horrific attacks prompted Japan to surrender, formally on September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands reverted to the control of the USSR, and Formosa (Taiwan) and Manchuria to China.
 
US Army General Douglas MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of the US occupation of postwar Japan (1945–1952). In 1947, a new constitution was crafted, which turned the emperor largely into a symbolic head of state. The US and Japan signed a security treaty in 1951, allowing American troops to be stationed in Japan. In 1952, Japan regained full sovereignty, and, in 1972, the US returned to Japan the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa.
 
By the 1970s, Japan’s postwar economic recovery was in full bloom. New technologies and manufacturing were undertaken with great success. A shrewd trade policy gave Japan larger shares in many Western markets, an imbalance that caused some tensions with the US. The close involvement of Japanese government in the country’s banking and industry produced accusations of protectionism. Yet economic growth continued through the 1970s and 1980s, eventually making Japan the world’s second-largest economy, after the US.
 
During the 1990s, Japan suffered an economic downturn prompted by scandals involving government officials, bankers, and leaders of industry. Japan succumbed to the Asian economic crisis in 1998, experiencing its worst recession since World War II. These setbacks led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in July 1998 and the ascension of Keizo Obuchi. Obuchi died of a stroke on May 14, 2000, and was succeeded by Yoshiro Mori, whose administration was dogged by scandal and blunders. He resigned on April 26, 2001, and was replaced by Liberal Democrat Junichiro Koizumi—the country’s 11th prime minister in 13 years.
 
At a summit meeting in North Korea in September 2002, North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il apologized to Koizumi for North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s, and in return Koizumi pledged a generous aid package. In April 2005, China protested the publication of Japanese textbooks that whitewashed the atrocities committed by Japan during World War II. Koizumi apologized for Japan’s abuses, admitting that Japan had caused tremendous damage and suffering.
 
In August 2005, Koizumi called for early elections, after the upper house of parliament rejected his proposal to privatize the postal service (which not only delivers mail but also functions as a savings bank and has about $3 trillion in assets). Koizumi’s party won a landslide victory, although Koizumi found himself replaced by Shinzo Abe as prime minister. Abe promptly assembled a conservative cabinet and vowed to increase Japan’s influence on global issues. Early into his term, Abe focused on nationalist issues, giving the military a more prominent role and paving the way to amend the country’s pacifist constitution.
 
Abe’s power base was cut short in July 2007 when parliamentary elections resulted in the Liberal Democratic Party losing control of the upper house to the opposition Democratic Party. Abe faced international criticism for refusing to acknowledge the military’s role in forcing as many as 200,000 Japanese women and women of other nationalities, known as comfort women, to provide sex to soldiers during World War II. Eventually, Abe apologized but maintained his denial that the military was involved.
 
Abe abruptly announced his resignation on September 12, 2007, just days into the parliamentary session, during which he stated his controversial plan to extend Japan’s participation in a US-led naval mission in Afghanistan. The move followed a string of scandals and the stunning defeat of his Liberal Democratic Party in July’s parliamentary elections. The Liberal Democratic Party elected Yasuo Fukuda to succeed Abe. Fukuda, a veteran lawmaker, was elected to Parliament in 1990 and held the post as chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. His father, Takeo Fukuda, served as prime minister from 1976 to 1978.
 
In June 2008, the upper house of Parliament, controlled by the opposition, censured Fukuda, citing his mismanagement of domestic issues. The lower house, however, supported him in a vote of confidence. Fukuda unexpectedly resigned on September 1, 2008, after barely a year in office. Shortly before he stepped down, Fukuda made several cabinet changes and announced a $17 billion stimulus package, making his resignation that much more stunning.
 
Taro Aso, a conservative and former foreign minister, was elected president of the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Two days later, on September 24, 2008, the lower house of Parliament selected him as prime minister.
 
History: Japan (Library of Congress)
History of Japan (Wikipedia)
The History of Japan Page (William J. Gilmore-Lehne, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey)
History of Japan (Japan-101)
The Economic History and the Economy of Japan (Thayer Watkins, San Jose State University)

 

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Japan's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Japan

The long history of Japanese immigration is full of racism, segregation, and exclusion. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, prohibiting further Chinese immigration. This xenophobia carried over to other East Asians, and the growing anti-Japanese sentiment culminated in 1906 when San Francisco segregated its Japanese students, requiring them to attend exclusively Chinese schools. President Theodore Roosevelt, keen to placate an offended Japan, worked out a gentleman's agreement, nullifying the segregation but limiting Japanese immigrant laborers. During this period, most immigrants were Japanese women chosen in arranged marriages, “picture brides” who had never met their future spouses until they arrived on the docks of San Francisco or Honolulu. The gentlemen's agreement was superseded by the Immigration Act of 1924, which prohibited any further Japanese immigrants until the controversial McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 once again opened up limited Asian immigration. Discriminatory immigration policy finally ended with the Immigration Act of 1965, which allowed for 170,000 annual immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere, and 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere, with a quota of 20,000 per Asian country. Between 1965 and 1985, four times as many Japanese immigrated to the U.S. than between 1849 and 1965.

 
No country has had more influence on Japan during its modern history than the United States. It was the US that pried open Japan’s closed feudal society in the mid-19th century, thanks to Matthew Perry’s visit, which led to the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. Within several years, renewed contact with the West profoundly altered Japanese society. The shogunate resigned, and the emperor was restored to power. Numerous Western institutions were adopted, including a Western legal and educational system and constitutional government along parliamentary lines. In 1898, the last of the “unequal treaties” with Western powers was removed, signaling Japan’s new status among the nations of the world. 
 
Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, represented up until that time the single most shocking assault on American territory in US history. (It also launched one of the greatest civil rights tragedies in American history, with the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and into internment camps.) The Japanese military leadership had hoped the attack on Pearl Harbor would cripple the US naval fleet in the Pacific, leaving the West Coast vulnerable to Japan’s navy and force officials in Washington to sue for peace. Although the attack produced considerable damage to numerous naval vessels, including the core of US battleships, the aerial assault failed to harm the most important weapon in the American arsenal: aircraft carriers. This blunder on the part of the Japanese navy would come back to haunt Japan, as the US was able to challenge Japanese fleets in key battles in 1942, specifically in the Coral Sea and near Midway Island. The latter proved to be a turning point in the war, as US warplanes destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, effectively curtailing the power of Japan’s navy for the remainder of WWII. 
 
By 1945, the US Navy and Marines had captured important islands from the Japanese, including Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. President Harry S. Truman argued that a full invasion of Japan would prove too costly and decided on aerial attacks to force Japan into surrendering. After four months of intense bombardment with conventional weapons, the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An estimated 340,000 persons died from the two attacks and the subsequent effects of radiation.
 
On August 14, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender, with formal surrender documents signed aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. The subsequent occupation (1945–1952) by the United States resulted in a dramatic reshaping of Japanese society. Political reforms included the adoption of a parliamentary system of government based on democratic principles and universal suffrage, a symbolic role for the emperor as titular head of state, the establishment of independent trade unions, and the disarmament of the military. Economic reforms consisted of land reform and economic and political rights for women.
 
Heavy economic aid from the United States helped the Japanese to rebuild their country. A revision of the 1952 defense treaty with the United States, under which a limited number of troops were to remain in Japan for defense purposes, was signed amid growing controversy in 1960. The US-Japanese Security Treaty was renewed in 1970, despite vigorous protest by the opposition parties and militant student organizations.
 
The Japanese government had to balance left-wing pressure advocating dissociation from the United States against the realities of the need for military protection. Recognizing the popular desire for the return of the Ryukyu Islands and the Bonin Islands, in 1953 the US relinquished its control of the Amami group of islands at the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands. But the US made no commitment to return Okinawa, which was then under American military administration for an indefinite period as provided in the peace treaty. Japanese lawmakers unanimously adopted a resolution in June 1956 calling for a return of Okinawa to Japan.
 
Bilateral talks on revising the 1952 security pact began in 1959, and the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in Washington on January 19, 1960. When the pact was submitted to the Diet for ratification, it became the subject of bitter debate over the Japan-United States relationship and the occasion for violence in an all-out effort by the leftist opposition to prevent its passage. Japan Socialist Party deputies boycotted the lower house session and tried to prevent the LDP deputies from entering the chamber, and they were forcibly removed by the police. Massive demonstrations and rioting by students and trade unions followed. These outbursts prevented a scheduled visit to Japan by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and precipitated the resignation of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, but not before the treaty was passed by default on June 19, when the House of Councillors failed to vote on the issue within the required thirty days after lower house approval.
 
Under the treaty, both parties assumed an obligation to assist each other in case of armed attack on territories under Japanese administration. (It was understood, however, that Japan could not come to the defense of the United States because it was constitutionally forbidden to send armed forces overseas. In particular, the constitution forbade the maintenance of “land, sea, and air forces.”)
 
In June 1968 the United States returned the Bonin Islands (including Iwo Jima) to Japanese administration control. Prime Minister Sato Eisaku visited Washington in November 1969, and in a joint communiqué signed by him and President Richard M. Nixon, announced the United States agreement to return Okinawa to Japan in 1972.  
 
A new problem between the US and Japan arose in the early 1970s. In July 1971, the Japanese government was surprised by Nixon’s dramatic announcement of his forthcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China. Many Japanese were chagrined by the failure of the United States to consult in advance with Japan before making such a fundamental change in foreign policy. The following month, the government was again surprised to learn that, without prior consultation, the United States had imposed a 10% surcharge on imports, a decision certain to hinder Japan’s exports to the United States. Relations between Tokyo and Washington were further strained by the monetary crisis involving the December 1971 revaluation of the Japanese yen.
 
US dissatisfaction with Japanese defense efforts began to surface in 1975 when Secretary of Defense James A. Schlesinger publicly stigmatized Japan as a passive defense partner. Due to the crisis in Iran in 1979, the United States decided to relocate more than 50% of its naval strength from East Asian waters to the Indian Ocean. Japan was repeatedly pressed not only to increase its defense expenditures and build up its antisubmarine and naval patrol capabilities, but also to play a more active and positive security role generally.
 
Japan reacted to the Iranian hostage crisis by condemning the action as a violation of international law. At the same time, Japanese trading firms and oil companies reportedly purchased Iranian oil that had become available when the United States banned oil imported from Iran. This action brought sharp criticism from the United States of Japanese government “insensitivity” for allowing the oil purchases and led to a Japanese apology and agreement to participate in sanctions against Iran in concert with other United States allies.
 
The Japanese government, constrained by constitutional limitations and pacifist public opinion, responded slowly to pressures for a more rapid buildup of its Self-Defense Forces (SDF). It steadily increased its budgetary outlays for those forces, however, and indicated its willingness to shoulder more of the cost of maintaining the United States military bases in Japan. In 1976 the United States and Japan formally established a subcommittee for defense cooperation in the framework of a bilateral Security Consultative Committee provided for under the 1960 security treaty. This subcommittee, in turn, drew up new Guidelines for Japan-United States Defense Cooperation in 1978, under which military planners of the two countries conducted studies relating to joint military action in the event of an armed attack on Japan.
A qualitatively new stage of Japan-United States cooperation in world affairs appeared to be reached in late 1982 with the election of Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro. Officials of the Reagan administration worked closely with their Japanese counterparts to develop a personal relationship between the two leaders based on their common security and international outlook. Nakasone reassured United States leaders of Japan’s determination against the Soviet threat, closely coordinated policies with the US toward such Asian trouble spots as the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia, and worked cooperatively with the US in developing China policy. The Japanese government welcomed the increase of United States forces in Japan and the western Pacific, continued the steady buildup of the SDF, and positioned Japan firmly on the side of the United States against the threat of Soviet international expansion.
 
The main area of non-cooperation between the United States and Japan in the 1980s was Japanese resistance to repeated American efforts to get Japan to open its markets more to foreign goods. To deal with domestic pressures while trying to avoid a break with the United States, the Japanese government engaged in protracted negotiations. This tactic bought time for declining industries to restructure themselves and new industries to grow stronger. Agreements reached dealt with some aspects of the problems, but it was common for trade or economic issues to be dragged out in talks over several years, involving more than one market-opening agreement. Such agreements were sometimes vague and subject to conflicting interpretations in Japan and the United States. A key arena for trade talks was the Market-Oriented Sector-Selective (MOSS) talks started by the Reagan administration in March 1985. The MOSS talks covered Japanese trade in five areas: telecommunications; medical equipment and pharmaceuticals; forestry products; electronics; and auto parts.
 
One problem that involved both trade and security occurred in 1987 when American officials and media lashed out at Toshiba for illegally selling sophisticated machinery of American origin to the Soviet Union, which reportedly allowed Moscow to make submarines quiet enough to avoid United States detection.
 
US-Japan relations became more uncertain in the early 1990s than at any time since World War II. The post-Cold War environment strengthened the relative importance of economic over military power as the major source of world influence. This shift affected the perceived relative standing of Japan, the United States, and other powers. Increasingly, Japan was expected to shoulder international aid and economic responsibilities that in the past were discharged by the United States and other Western countries.
Some public opinion polls in the US showed that most respondents considered the challenge from Japan to be more serious than that from Russia. Similarly, poll data in Japan showed that most Japanese considered negative American attitudes toward Japan a reflection of US anger at “America’s slipping economic position.” Some Japanese commentators argued that the United States was weak, dependent on Japan, and unable to come to terms with world economic competition.
 
In 1993, the Clinton Administration negotiated the United States-Japan Framework for a New Economic Partnership. At the insistence of the Clinton administration, new criteria were developed to determine whether Japan was fulfilling its obligations under the framework. This proved highly controversial, and the two countries never agreed on the role that “objective criteria” would play or what it would constitute.
 
Over the years, Japanese investors have established a strong presence in the United States. Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US surged in the 1980s and continued to increase in the 1990s. In the 1980s, Japanese investors acquired such high-profile US assets as Columbia Pictures, Rockefeller Center, and Pebble Beach Golf Course. These investments followed surges in Japanese investments in the United States by Japanese consumer electronics firms and auto producers. The rapid increase of the investments and their high visibility generated concerns in the United States of Japan “buying up the United States.”
 
 
U.S.-Japanese Relations after Koizumi (by Michael J Green, Washington Quarterly) (PDF)
U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: Significance, Prospects, and Policy Options (by William H. Cooper, Congressional Research Service) (PDF)
Chronology of U.S.-Japan Relations (Embassy of the United States in Japan)
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Current U.S. Relations with Japan

Economics and trade are the centerpieces of the American-Japanese relationship. Persistent US trade deficits with Japan have been the source of considerable angst among officials in Washington. Problems in US-Japan economic relations, especially the notion that Japan has at times out-competed the United States, have dominated trade policy between the two countries.

 
In recent years the bilateral economic relationship has diminished somewhat as a priority. One reason is due to Japan’s decade of poor economic performance, which changed the popular perception in the United States of Japan as an economic threat. From 1980 through 1990, Japan’s average GDP growth rate was 4.1% per year. That number fell to 1.4% from 1991 to 2000 and to 0.9% from 2001 to 2003. However, Japan has enjoyed continuous economic growth in the last few years.
 
Another reason for the shift in priorities is the rise of China as a trade power. Since 2000, the US bilateral trade deficit with China has exceeded the deficit with Japan, and the gap between the two deficits continues to grow. In 2007, the US trade deficit with Japan was $82.8 billion, the one with China was $256.2 billion. The growing deficit with China has forced US policymakers to focus more on the Communist Asian giant than the “other” Asian giant. For Japan, China has emerged as a major economic competitor and/or partner in the region requiring more attention.
 
Other reasons for the shift in policy priorities between the US and Japan involve foreign policy and national security concerns that have trumped commercial concerns since September 11,
2001, along with increasing worries over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
 
Also, the United States and Japan have been forging economic relations with other countries and regions through free trade agreements (FTAs), which has reduced the focus on their own bilateral relations. The United States has entered into FTAs with Jordan (2001), Singapore (2003), Chile (2004), Australia (2004), Bahrain (2004) and Morocco (2004). The Bush Administration has also launched initiatives with the ASEAN members (the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative) and countries of the Middle East (the Middle East Free Trade Initiative) that could lead to free trade arrangements.
 
Japan entered into its first FTA with Singapore in November 2002. In addition to the Singapore agreement, Japan is building its economic presence in East Asia by negotiating FTAs with South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Mexico.
 
Although the security relationship between the US and Japan has diminished in importance since the end of the Cold War, the US continues to station a sizeable force in Japan. There are approximately 90 US military facilities, including major military bases, throughout mainland Japan and Okinawa. They are concentrated on Okinawa (37), and inKanagawa (15), Nagasaki (11), and Tokyo (7). About 52,000 US troops are stationed in these bases.
 
A total of 796,700 people identified themselves as being of Japanese ancestry in the 2000 US census. Most Japanese immigrants live on the west coast, with California claiming the largest population.
 
In 2006, 816,727 Americans visited Japan. The number of visitors has fluctuated in recent years, with a low of 655,821 tourists in 2003, and a high of 822,033 tourists in 2005.
 
In 2006, 3,672,584 Japanese traveled to the US. The number of Japanese tourists fluctuated between a low of 3,169,682 (2003) and a high of 3,883,906 (2005) since 2002.
 
Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress (by Chanlett-Avery, Cooper and Manyin, Congressional Research Service)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Japan and the United States are the two largest economic powers in the world. Together they account for more than 40% of world domestic product, for a significant portion of international trade in goods and services, and for a major portion of international investment.

 
The US-Japan economic relationship is strong. The two economies are highly integrated via trade in goods and services and represent large markets for each other’s exports and imports.
 
Although US-Japan bilateral trade remains large, the importance of the United States and Japan as their respective trade partners has been diminishing. In 1996, Japan bought 10.8% of US exports and was the second largest (next to Canada) US export market. By 2008, sales to Japan accounted for 5.1% of US exports and had declined to the fourth largest US export market (behind Canada, Mexico and China). In 1996, 14.5% of US imports came from Japan and Japan was the second largest (next to Canada) source of US imports. However, by 2008, it accounted for only 6.6% and declined to the fourth largest source behind Canada, China, and Mexico.
 
US imports from Japan are concentrated within three main categories. About 75% of imports in 2007 consisted of passenger cars and parts; computers and components; office machinery parts; and electrical machinery (primarily video cameras). US exports to Japan were much more diverse, but a major portion of those exports were in cilivian aircraft, computers and components; gas turbines; office machinery parts; electrical machinery (integrated circuits and electrical apparatus for line telephone systems); optical and medical equipment; and agricultural products such as corn, soybeans and meat.
 
Overall, the US continued to endure a significant trade deficit with Japan. In 2007, the US imported a total of $145.4 billion from Japan, while exporting $62.6 billion.
 
Japan is the second largest foreign source of financing of the US national debt. Japan is also a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, and the United States is the origin of much of the foreign investment in Japan.
 
By 2000, the level of Japanese FDI in the United States rose to $159.7 billion but declined to $147 billion by 2002. The level of Japan’s FDI in the United States has increased since, reaching $211 billion in 2006, second only to investments from the United Kingdom.
 
Japanese majority-owned affiliates in the United States employ 6.1 million US workers.
 
In 2007, the US sold $3.12 billion in defense articles and services to Japan.
 
Department of Commerce U.S. Commercial Service Focus on Japan
Department of Commerce Country Commercial Guide Japan 2007
The Combined Official View: United States-Japan Investment Initiative 2007 Report (PDF)
Top Ten Countries with which the U.S. has a Trade Deficit
U.S.-Japan Economy: Never Better US Embassy in Japan)
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Controversies

Japanese Protests over Basing of Nuclear Carrier

In September 2008 the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, arrived in Japan to a mixed greeting. The ship sailed into Yokosuka, a naval hub 30 miles south of Tokyo, becoming the first US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be based outside of the United States. Japan agreed to accept the George Washington to replace the diesel USS Kitty Hawk, which is being retired from service. The decision was greeted with criticism by many Japanese, saying they feared radiation and crimes by US military personnel. American officials argued that the carrier needs to be based at Yokosuka due to East Asia’s tense security situation.
 
Arrival of Nuclear Sub Prompts Concerns
In August 2008 US Navy officials admitted to Japan’s government that a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Houston, may have leaked radiation during visits to the southern Japanese ports of Sasebo and Okinawa in March and April. The US insisted the amount of radioactivity was negligible, but the news caused a stir in Japan, where the continued presence of the US military and its nuclear vessels remain controversial. News of the incident came just weeks ahead of the arrival of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington in Yokosuka and the arrival of another American nuclear-powered submarine, the USS La Jolla, which experienced a small fire when it visited Sasebo in July 2004. No one was hurt in the incident.
 
Japan Bans US Beef over ‘Mad Cow’ Concerns
In 2003 Japan banned all imports of beef from the United States following the discovery of cattle in the US that were infected with “mad cow disease.” Japan lifted its ban on US beef in December 2005 with certain stipulations, such as shipments would consist solely of beef and beef products from cows under 30 months of age. The following year, Japanese officials reimposed the ban on US beef when a shipment of American-bread veal containing bones not approved under the 2005 agreement arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  
Japan Says Man Died of Mad Cow Disease (by Anthony Faiola, Washington Post)
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Human Rights

In general, Japan maintains an admirable human rights record. The State Department reports that there were some cases of violence and other abuse against women and children and of sexual harassment. Human trafficking remained a problem. Employment discrimination against women occurred.

 
Although prohibited by law, domestic violence against women remained a problem. District courts may impose six‑month restraining orders on perpetrators of domestic violence and impose sentences of up to one year in prison or fines of up to $8,500 (one million yen). In 2006 courts granted 2,208 out of 2,759 petitions for protection orders. The law, which also covers common‑law marriages and divorced individuals, was amended in July to include protection not only for victims of abuse but also for persons threatened with violence.
 
Prostitution has been illegal since 1957, but ir remains widespread. Domestic sex tourism was not a significant problem.
 
Sexual harassment in the workplace remains widespread. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) received 11,102 reports of such harassment in 2006. The law includes measures to identify companies that failed to prevent sexual harassment, but it does not include punitive measures to enforce compliance other than publicizing the names of offending companies. The government established hot lines and designated ombudsmen to handle complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.
 
The issue of “comfort women,” or women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops in World War II, continues to draw controversy. In 1995 the government established the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF), which sent a signed apology from the prime minister along with privately raised financial compensation to each victim. Critics of the policy towards comfort women maintained that the apology letter from the prime minister took moral but not legal responsibility for the suffering endured by the comfort women and called for the government to pay direct compensation.
 
Reports of child abuse continued to increase at an alarming rate. In FY 2006 there were 37,343 reported cases of child abuse by parents or guardians. According to the National Police Agency (NPA), 59 children died after being abused.
 
The law does not criminalize the possession of child pornography, which often depicts the brutal sexual abuse of small children. The absence of a statutory basis makes it difficult for police to obtain search warrants, preventing them from effectively enforcing existing child pornography laws or participating in international law enforcement efforts in this area. Along with child pornography involving real victims, child molesters used cartoons and comics depicting child pornography to seduce children. Internet Service Providers in Japan acknowledged that the country has become a hub for child pornography, leading to greater victimization of children both domestically and abroad
 
Human trafficking remains a significant problem despite government efforts, including stricter requirements for entertainment visas and more aggressive investigation and prosecution of offenders. The country remains a destination and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and other purposes. Victims come from China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent Latin America. There were also reports of internal trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Recent appointees have all been beneficiaries of patronage by both Democratic and Republican presidents. President Bill Clinton’s two ambassadors to Japan were former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. President George W. Bush selected former GOP Senator Howard Baker and Tom Schieffer, who has known Bush since their days together owning the Texas Rangers.

 
Townsend Harris
Appointment: Jan 19, 1859
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 5, 1859
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 26, 1862
 
Robert H. Pruyn
Appointment: Oct 12, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Apr 28, 1865
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1862.
 
Chauncey M. Depew
Appointment: Nov 15, 1865
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; declined appointment.
 
Robert B. Van Valkenburgh
Appointment: Jan 18, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1867
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 11, 1869
 
Charles E. De Long
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 11, 1869
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Charles E. De Long
Appointment: Jul 14, 1870
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 9, 1872
Termination of Mission: Had farewell audience, Oct 7, 1873
 
John A. Bingham
Appointment: May 31, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 7, 1873
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 2, 1885
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 11, 1873.
 
Richard B. Hubbard
Appointment: Apr 2, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1889
 
John F. Swift
Appointment: Mar 12, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1889
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 10, 1891
 
Frank L. Coombs
Appointment: Apr 20, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 13, 1892
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 14, 1893
 
Edwin Dun
Appointment: Apr 4, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 14, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 2, 1897
 
Alfred E. Buck
Appointment: Apr 13, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 3, 1898
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Dec 4, 1902
 
Lloyd C. Griscom
Appointment: Dec 16, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1903
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Nov 19, 1905
 
Luke E. Wright
Appointment: Jan 25, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1906
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Aug 13, 1907
 
Thomas J. O'Brien
Appointment: Jun 11, 1907
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 15, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 31, 1911
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 12, 1907.
 
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Aug 12, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 22, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1912
 
Larz Anderson
Appointment: Nov 14, 1912
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 1, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Mar 15, 1913
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 1, 1913.
 
George W. Guthrie
Appointment: May 20, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1913
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 8, 1917
 
Roland S. Morris
Appointment: Aug 1, 1917
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1917
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, May 15, 1920
 
Charles Beecher Warren
Appointment: Jun 29, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Jan 28, 1922
 
Cyrus E. Woods
Appointment: Mar 3, 1923
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 21, 1923
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Jun 5, 1924
 
Edgar A. Bancroft
Appointment: Sep 23, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1924
Termination of Mission: Died at Karuizawa, Jul 27, 1925
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 21, 1925.
 
Charles MacVeagh
Appointment: Sep 24, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Dec 6, 1928
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1925.
 
William R. Castle, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 11, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, May 27, 1930
 
W. Cameron Forbes
Appointment: Jun 17, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 25, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Mar 22, 1932
 
Joseph C. Grew
Appointment: Feb 19, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 14, 1932
Termination of Mission: Japan declared war on the U.S., Dec 8, 1941 (Tokyo time)
Note: Grew, having been interned, left Japan Jun 25, 1942.
 
Robert D. Murphy
Appointment: Apr 18, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: May 9, 1952
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Apr 28, 1953
Note: Embassy Tokyo was reestablished Apr 28, 1952 with Ambassador Murphy in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
John M. Allison
Appointment: Apr 2, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: May 28, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 2, 1957
 
Douglas MacArthur 2d
Appointment: Dec 4, 1956
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 25, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 12, 1961
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 29 1957.
 
Edwin O. Reischauer
Appointment: Mar 29, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 27, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 19, 1966
 
U. Alexis Johnson
Appointment: Sep 1, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 15, 1969
 
Armin H. Meyer
Appointment: May 27, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 3, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 27, 1972
 
Robert Stephen Ingersoll
Appointment: Feb 29, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 12, 1972
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 8, 1973
 
James D. Hodgson
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 19, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 5, 1977
 
Michael J. Mansfield
Appointment: Apr 22, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 10, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 22, 1988
 
Michael Hayden Armacost
Appointment: Apr 20, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 19, 1993
 
Walter F. Mondale
Appointment: Aug 2, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 15, 1996
 
Thomas S. Foley
Appointment: Oct 31, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 1, 2001
 
Howard Baker, Jr.
Appointment: May 31, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 5, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 17, 2005
 
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Japan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sasae, Kenichiro

Challenged in recent years by territorial disputes with China and South Korea and the bellicose rhetoric of nuclear-armed North Korea, Japan late last year replaced its ambassadors to China, South Korea and the U.S. with senior Foreign Ministry officials. Despite an anti-corruption rule adopted in 2002 barring high ministry bureaucrats from becoming ambassadors, the new ambassador to the U.S. is Kenichiro Sasae, most recently vice minister for foreign affairs, who succeeded Ichiro Fujisaki, who was Tokyo's man in Washington starting in June 2008.

 

Born circa 1952, Sasae joined the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974. Career highlights from the first 25 years of his diplomatic career include service at the Japanese embassy in Washington, DC, at the embassy in London, U.K., and at Japan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Ascending to the top of the Foreign Ministry bureaucracy, Sasae served as deputy director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau from 1999 to 2000, as executive assistant for Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Yoshirō Mori from 2000 to 2001, deputy director-general of the Foreign Policy Bureau from 2001 to 2002, and director-general of the Economic Affairs Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

 

From 2005 to 2008, Sasae served as director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, where he was Japan's representative to the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds (held between July 2005 and September 2007) of the “six-party talks” among South Korea, North Korea, the U.S., China, Japan, and Russia, that sought to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns that arose when North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty in 2003 and developed a nuclear weapons program.

 

Sasae served as deputy minister for foreign affairs from 2008 to 2010, and as vice minister for foreign affairs, the top civil service job at the Foreign Ministry, from 2010 to 2012.

 

His wife, Nobuko Sasae, is a professional translator specializing in simultaneous translation. The couple has two children.

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

What Lies Ahead for Japan and the United States (by Kenichiro Sasae)

Veteran Diplomats Dominate Key Envoy Posts (Asahi Shimbun editorial)

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Japan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Kennedy, Caroline
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Nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy has been a celebrity since the day she was born, yet she has managed to control the glare of the limelight during her adult life, just as her mother did in the years after the tragic death of her father 50 years ago. Although she has continued her family’s commitment to public service and Democratic Party activism, Caroline Kennedy has never subjected herself to the scrutiny of an election campaign, and she is not an overtly ideological figure. Considered a lock to receive Senate confirmation, Kennedy will be the first woman to serve in the post, succeeding John Roos, a technology lawyer and Barack Obama donor.

 

Born November 27, 1957, in New York City, Caroline’s parents were John F. Kennedy, who was then U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and heiress Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. When she was almost three years old her father was elected President, and she and her brother, John F. Kennedy, Jr., became oft-photographed media darlings as the first children to reside in the White House in many years. One such photo, which appeared on the cover of Life magazine in September 1962, showed Caroline riding her pony, “Macaroni,” on the White House grounds, inspiring singer-songwriter Neil Diamond to write his hit song “Sweet Caroline,” a fact he first revealed when singing it for her 50th birthday.

 

After President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, the Kennedy family moved back to their home in Georgetown, but well-wishers and gawkers made privacy impossible. In mid-1964 Jackie Kennedy moved the family to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Caroline attended The Brearley School and Convent of the Sacred Heart, graduating Concord Academy in Massachusetts in 1975.

 

Throughout these years, Jackie Kennedy generally succeeded in maintaining distance from the press, whose attention she feared in light of her husband’s assassination, and raising her children in relative privacy without entirely abandoning a public role. In 1967, for example, nine-year-old Caroline christened the Navy aircraft carrier “USS John F. Kennedy” in a heavily publicized ceremony. Living in New York, away from their Hyannisport cousins, Caroline and John, Jr. became very close, particularly after their mother’s death in 1994. Her brother’s death in a plane crash in 1999 left Caroline the sole survivor of the young White House family that captivated the nation in the early 1960s.

 

Following family tradition, Caroline Kennedy attended Harvard University, earning a B.A. in 1979 and a J.D. at Columbia Law School in 1988. After working as a photographer’s assistant at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and a summer intern at the New York Daily News in 1977, she “considered becoming a photojournalist, but soon realized she could never make her living observing other people because they were too busy watching her.” At the Daily News, Kennedy reportedly “sat on a bench alone for two hours the first day before other employees even said hello to her”; according to former News reporter Richard Licata, “Everyone was too scared.”

 

After graduating Radcliffe College, Kennedy worked as a research assistant in the Film and Television Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, later becoming a “liaison officer between the museum staff and outside producers and directors shooting footage at the museum,” and helping coordinate the Sesame Street special “Don’t Eat the Pictures.” While at the Met, she met exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg, whom she married on July 19, 1986; her uncle Ted walked her down the aisle at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville, Massachusetts. The couple has three children: Rose, Tatiana, and John.

 

Kennedy is a writer and editor, and has co-authored two books on civil liberties with Ellen Alderman: In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action (1992) and The Right to Privacy (1997). She and others of her family created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989, which is given to public officials whose actions demonstrate politically courageous leadership in the spirit of John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage.

 

From 2002 through 2004, Caroline worked as chief fundraiser for New York City’s public schools. For a salary of $1, she helped raise more than $65 million for the city’s public schools. From 2002 to 2012, she served as one of two vice chairs of the board of directors of The Fund for Public Schools, a public-private partnership founded in 2002 to attract private funding for public schools in New York City.

 

In 2008, Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President early in the primary race, publishing a New York Times op-ed on January 27, 2008, entitled, “A President Like My Father.” Her concluding lines were: “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president—not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” The only other presidential candidate she had ever endorsed was her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), in 1980. She followed up by campaigning for Obama, serving as co-chair of his Vice Presidential Search Committee, and addressing the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

 

After Obama chose then-Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Kennedy expressed interest in being appointed to Clinton’s vacant New York Senate seat—which had been held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968—and began a whirlwind campaign of interviews and appearances. Although she was endorsed by several prominent New York Democrats, she was criticized for failing to vote in several elections, providing few details about her political views, and not publicly releasing her financial data.

 

Although Kennedy promised to release her finances if she were appointed, she eventually withdrew from consideration, citing “personal reasons.” She did reveal, however, a number of political positions, including support for same-sex marriage, abortion rights, gun control, charter schools, a path to citizenship for the undocumented, labor law reform, and restoring the federal assault weapons ban. She opposes the death penalty and school vouchers, and stated that she “opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.”

 

Caroline Kennedy has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. She is chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. In September 2012, she was appointed as a general trustee of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is also on the board of directors of New Visions for Public Schools and serves as honorary chair of the American Ballet Theater. From 1998 to 2009, she served on the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund. From 1994 to 2011, she served on the board of directors of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

 

Caroline Kennedy’s financial-disclosure forms, filed as part of her nomination, show her net worth to be between $67 million and $278 million, including family trusts, government bonds, commercial property, and eight Cayman Island partnerships, with a combined value ranging from $542,000 to $1.2 million. She also owns her mother’s 375-acre estate, “Red Gate Farm,” in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard.

 

Obviously a lifelong Democrat, Caroline Kennedy has contributed more than $55,000 to party candidates and organizations, including $5,500 to the Democratic National Committee, $5,000 to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, $4,600 to his 2008 campaign, $4,600 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary run, and $5,000 to her 2006 senatorial campaign.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Caroline Kennedy Worth Up to $278 Million, Records Show (by Jonathan D. Salant & Kathleen Hunter, Bloomberg)

A President Like My Father (by Caroline Kennedy, New York Times)

Obama Nominates Caroline Kennedy to Be Ambassador to Japan (by Mark Landler, New York

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Schieffer, Tom
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John Thomas “Tom” Schieffer was sworn in as the US Ambassador to Japan on April 1, 2005 and served until January 15, 2009. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Schieffer attended the University of Texas, where he earned a BA in government (1970), an MA in international relations (1972), and studied law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1979.

 
Schieffer has had a long involvement in Texas politics. At the age of 25, he was elected (as a Democrat) to the Texas House of Representatives. After serving three terms, he became a corporate lawyer specializing in the oil industry. From 1989 to 1998, he and partners George W. Bush and Edward Rose owned the Texas Rangers baseball team. Schieffer went on to develop the real estate surrounding the Rangers’ stadium. As soon as Bush became president, Schieffer was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Australia. Schieffer’s brother Bob, the host of CBS News’ Face the Nation, moderated the third Bush-Kerry debate in 2004 while Tom was Bush’s ambassador to Australia and the third Obama-McCain debate while Tom was ambassador to Japan.
 
Schieffer has mostly contributed to Democratic campaigns, in particular those of long-time Texas Congressman Martin Frost, according to OpenSecrets.org. He did contribute $1,000 to George W. Bush in 1999.

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Overview

Japan has long represented one of the most important countries in US foreign affairs. Relations between the two countries have ranged from outright warfare during World War II to close cooperation during the Cold War and after. Following the end of the Second World War, the US played a dominant role in rebuilding and restructuring Japan’s political and economic systems, in an effort to prevent the former enemiy from ever becoming a military threat to the United States. As part of the post-war reorganization, severe limitations on the development of Japan’s military were imposed in the US-approved constitution adopted by Japanese officials. During the Cold War, Japan played a key role in American security efforts in the Pacific by allowing US troops and naval vessels to be staged on Japan’s islands—a situation that continues even today.

 
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Japan’s leaders built their country into an economic powerhouse that soon rivaled the economy of the United States. During the 1980s, tensions arose over Japan’s perceived economic superiority, its “buying up” of America and a severe trade deficit that hurt the US economy. These economic-based troubles cooled during the 1990s as Japan endured a long and difficult economic decline. Things have rebounded for Japan this decade, however the upswing has not produced a replication of the difficult trade relations with the US during the 1980s, thanks to changes in trade and security priorities for the two countries and the emergence of China as an economic force in Asia. The longstanding trade deficit continues, however, without the hue and cry from American officials.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Japan is an island nation, forming a 2,000-mile archipelago along the coast of east Asia. Of its 3,330 islands, about 400 are inhabited; the four main islands are Hokkaido in the north, Kyushu and Shikoku in the south, and the large, heavily populated island of Honshu in the center. The terrain is generally mountainous, sprinkled with volcanoes such as the sacred, 12,000-foot Mt. Fuji. Only one fifth of the land is suitable for cultivation or urban development.

 
Population: 127.3 million
 
Religions: Shinto 83.6%, Buddhist 71.1%, other (Tenrikyo, Seichounoie, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, Perfect Liberty) 7.8%, Christian 2.3%, Muslim 0.09%. The excess over 100% reflects the fact that the vast majority of people practice Shintoism in addition to other religions. 
 
Ethnic Groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other (Ainu et. al.) 0.6%.
 
Languages: Japanese (official) 95.1%, Okinawan 0.7%, Korean 0.5%, Yaeyama 0.04%, Ainu (nearly extinct). There are 15 living languages in Japan.
 

 

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History
The earliest recorded history for Japan begins around the 4th century with the Yamato clan managing to gain control of other family groups in central and western Japan. Buddhism was first introduced to Japan at about this time through contact with Korea. Through the 700s Japan was influenced by China, and the Yamato clan set up an imperial court similar to that of China.
 
Warrior clans rose to prominence as a distinct class known as samurai. In 1192, the Minamoto clan set up a military government under Yoritomo, who was designated shogun (military dictator). Shoguns ruled over Japan for the next 700 years.
 
First contact with the West came in 1542 from members of a Portuguese ship that had veered off course and arrived in Japanese waters. Portuguese traders, Jesuit missionaries, and Spanish, Dutch, and English traders followed. Suspicious of Christianity and Portuguese support of a local Japanese revolt, the shoguns of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) prohibited all trade with foreign countries. The only exception was a Dutch trading post at Nagasaki that was permitted to remain. Western attempts to renew trading relations failed until 1853 when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed an American fleet into Tokyo Bay. Trade with the West was forced upon Japan under terms less than favorable to the Japanese. Strife caused by these actions brought down the feudal world of the shoguns. In 1868, the emperor Meiji came to the throne, and the shogun system was abolished.
 
Japan quickly made the transition from a medieval to a modern power. An imperial army was established with conscription, and parliamentary government was formed in 1889. Efforts to expand Japan’s power soon followed. After a brief war with China in 1894–1895, Japan acquired Formosa (Taiwan), the Pescadores Islands, and part of southern Manchuria. China also recognized the independence of Korea (Chosen), which Japan later annexed in 1910.
 
In 1904–05, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, gaining the territory of southern Sakhalin (Karafuto) and Russia’s port and rail rights in Manchuria. During World War I, Japan seized Germany’s Pacific islands and leased areas in China. The Treaty of Versailles then awarded Japan a mandate over the islands.
 
In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria and seized control from China, creating the puppet state, “Manchukuo,” under Chinese Emperor Henry Pu-Yi, the last of China’s Manchu dynasty. On November 25, 1936, Japan joined with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers. The following year, Japan attacked the rest of China, followed by the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. The surprise assault, along with numerous other victories, positioned Japan as a dominant power in the Pacific. Japan’s supremacy was short-lived, however. Beginning in 1942, the United States began to retake island territories seized by Japan. By 1945 US forces were preparing for a full-scale invasion of Japan when a single US Air Force B-29 bomber flew over the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. A single atomic bomb was released over the city, obliterating it and killing 140,000 people. Three days later another atom bomb was dropped, this time over Nagasaki, killing 80,000. The horrific attacks prompted Japan to surrender, formally on September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands reverted to the control of the USSR, and Formosa (Taiwan) and Manchuria to China.
 
US Army General Douglas MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of the US occupation of postwar Japan (1945–1952). In 1947, a new constitution was crafted, which turned the emperor largely into a symbolic head of state. The US and Japan signed a security treaty in 1951, allowing American troops to be stationed in Japan. In 1952, Japan regained full sovereignty, and, in 1972, the US returned to Japan the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa.
 
By the 1970s, Japan’s postwar economic recovery was in full bloom. New technologies and manufacturing were undertaken with great success. A shrewd trade policy gave Japan larger shares in many Western markets, an imbalance that caused some tensions with the US. The close involvement of Japanese government in the country’s banking and industry produced accusations of protectionism. Yet economic growth continued through the 1970s and 1980s, eventually making Japan the world’s second-largest economy, after the US.
 
During the 1990s, Japan suffered an economic downturn prompted by scandals involving government officials, bankers, and leaders of industry. Japan succumbed to the Asian economic crisis in 1998, experiencing its worst recession since World War II. These setbacks led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in July 1998 and the ascension of Keizo Obuchi. Obuchi died of a stroke on May 14, 2000, and was succeeded by Yoshiro Mori, whose administration was dogged by scandal and blunders. He resigned on April 26, 2001, and was replaced by Liberal Democrat Junichiro Koizumi—the country’s 11th prime minister in 13 years.
 
At a summit meeting in North Korea in September 2002, North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il apologized to Koizumi for North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s, and in return Koizumi pledged a generous aid package. In April 2005, China protested the publication of Japanese textbooks that whitewashed the atrocities committed by Japan during World War II. Koizumi apologized for Japan’s abuses, admitting that Japan had caused tremendous damage and suffering.
 
In August 2005, Koizumi called for early elections, after the upper house of parliament rejected his proposal to privatize the postal service (which not only delivers mail but also functions as a savings bank and has about $3 trillion in assets). Koizumi’s party won a landslide victory, although Koizumi found himself replaced by Shinzo Abe as prime minister. Abe promptly assembled a conservative cabinet and vowed to increase Japan’s influence on global issues. Early into his term, Abe focused on nationalist issues, giving the military a more prominent role and paving the way to amend the country’s pacifist constitution.
 
Abe’s power base was cut short in July 2007 when parliamentary elections resulted in the Liberal Democratic Party losing control of the upper house to the opposition Democratic Party. Abe faced international criticism for refusing to acknowledge the military’s role in forcing as many as 200,000 Japanese women and women of other nationalities, known as comfort women, to provide sex to soldiers during World War II. Eventually, Abe apologized but maintained his denial that the military was involved.
 
Abe abruptly announced his resignation on September 12, 2007, just days into the parliamentary session, during which he stated his controversial plan to extend Japan’s participation in a US-led naval mission in Afghanistan. The move followed a string of scandals and the stunning defeat of his Liberal Democratic Party in July’s parliamentary elections. The Liberal Democratic Party elected Yasuo Fukuda to succeed Abe. Fukuda, a veteran lawmaker, was elected to Parliament in 1990 and held the post as chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. His father, Takeo Fukuda, served as prime minister from 1976 to 1978.
 
In June 2008, the upper house of Parliament, controlled by the opposition, censured Fukuda, citing his mismanagement of domestic issues. The lower house, however, supported him in a vote of confidence. Fukuda unexpectedly resigned on September 1, 2008, after barely a year in office. Shortly before he stepped down, Fukuda made several cabinet changes and announced a $17 billion stimulus package, making his resignation that much more stunning.
 
Taro Aso, a conservative and former foreign minister, was elected president of the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Two days later, on September 24, 2008, the lower house of Parliament selected him as prime minister.
 
History: Japan (Library of Congress)
History of Japan (Wikipedia)
The History of Japan Page (William J. Gilmore-Lehne, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey)
History of Japan (Japan-101)
The Economic History and the Economy of Japan (Thayer Watkins, San Jose State University)

 

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Japan's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Japan

The long history of Japanese immigration is full of racism, segregation, and exclusion. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, prohibiting further Chinese immigration. This xenophobia carried over to other East Asians, and the growing anti-Japanese sentiment culminated in 1906 when San Francisco segregated its Japanese students, requiring them to attend exclusively Chinese schools. President Theodore Roosevelt, keen to placate an offended Japan, worked out a gentleman's agreement, nullifying the segregation but limiting Japanese immigrant laborers. During this period, most immigrants were Japanese women chosen in arranged marriages, “picture brides” who had never met their future spouses until they arrived on the docks of San Francisco or Honolulu. The gentlemen's agreement was superseded by the Immigration Act of 1924, which prohibited any further Japanese immigrants until the controversial McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 once again opened up limited Asian immigration. Discriminatory immigration policy finally ended with the Immigration Act of 1965, which allowed for 170,000 annual immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere, and 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere, with a quota of 20,000 per Asian country. Between 1965 and 1985, four times as many Japanese immigrated to the U.S. than between 1849 and 1965.

 
No country has had more influence on Japan during its modern history than the United States. It was the US that pried open Japan’s closed feudal society in the mid-19th century, thanks to Matthew Perry’s visit, which led to the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. Within several years, renewed contact with the West profoundly altered Japanese society. The shogunate resigned, and the emperor was restored to power. Numerous Western institutions were adopted, including a Western legal and educational system and constitutional government along parliamentary lines. In 1898, the last of the “unequal treaties” with Western powers was removed, signaling Japan’s new status among the nations of the world. 
 
Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, represented up until that time the single most shocking assault on American territory in US history. (It also launched one of the greatest civil rights tragedies in American history, with the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and into internment camps.) The Japanese military leadership had hoped the attack on Pearl Harbor would cripple the US naval fleet in the Pacific, leaving the West Coast vulnerable to Japan’s navy and force officials in Washington to sue for peace. Although the attack produced considerable damage to numerous naval vessels, including the core of US battleships, the aerial assault failed to harm the most important weapon in the American arsenal: aircraft carriers. This blunder on the part of the Japanese navy would come back to haunt Japan, as the US was able to challenge Japanese fleets in key battles in 1942, specifically in the Coral Sea and near Midway Island. The latter proved to be a turning point in the war, as US warplanes destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, effectively curtailing the power of Japan’s navy for the remainder of WWII. 
 
By 1945, the US Navy and Marines had captured important islands from the Japanese, including Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. President Harry S. Truman argued that a full invasion of Japan would prove too costly and decided on aerial attacks to force Japan into surrendering. After four months of intense bombardment with conventional weapons, the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An estimated 340,000 persons died from the two attacks and the subsequent effects of radiation.
 
On August 14, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender, with formal surrender documents signed aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. The subsequent occupation (1945–1952) by the United States resulted in a dramatic reshaping of Japanese society. Political reforms included the adoption of a parliamentary system of government based on democratic principles and universal suffrage, a symbolic role for the emperor as titular head of state, the establishment of independent trade unions, and the disarmament of the military. Economic reforms consisted of land reform and economic and political rights for women.
 
Heavy economic aid from the United States helped the Japanese to rebuild their country. A revision of the 1952 defense treaty with the United States, under which a limited number of troops were to remain in Japan for defense purposes, was signed amid growing controversy in 1960. The US-Japanese Security Treaty was renewed in 1970, despite vigorous protest by the opposition parties and militant student organizations.
 
The Japanese government had to balance left-wing pressure advocating dissociation from the United States against the realities of the need for military protection. Recognizing the popular desire for the return of the Ryukyu Islands and the Bonin Islands, in 1953 the US relinquished its control of the Amami group of islands at the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands. But the US made no commitment to return Okinawa, which was then under American military administration for an indefinite period as provided in the peace treaty. Japanese lawmakers unanimously adopted a resolution in June 1956 calling for a return of Okinawa to Japan.
 
Bilateral talks on revising the 1952 security pact began in 1959, and the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in Washington on January 19, 1960. When the pact was submitted to the Diet for ratification, it became the subject of bitter debate over the Japan-United States relationship and the occasion for violence in an all-out effort by the leftist opposition to prevent its passage. Japan Socialist Party deputies boycotted the lower house session and tried to prevent the LDP deputies from entering the chamber, and they were forcibly removed by the police. Massive demonstrations and rioting by students and trade unions followed. These outbursts prevented a scheduled visit to Japan by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and precipitated the resignation of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, but not before the treaty was passed by default on June 19, when the House of Councillors failed to vote on the issue within the required thirty days after lower house approval.
 
Under the treaty, both parties assumed an obligation to assist each other in case of armed attack on territories under Japanese administration. (It was understood, however, that Japan could not come to the defense of the United States because it was constitutionally forbidden to send armed forces overseas. In particular, the constitution forbade the maintenance of “land, sea, and air forces.”)
 
In June 1968 the United States returned the Bonin Islands (including Iwo Jima) to Japanese administration control. Prime Minister Sato Eisaku visited Washington in November 1969, and in a joint communiqué signed by him and President Richard M. Nixon, announced the United States agreement to return Okinawa to Japan in 1972.  
 
A new problem between the US and Japan arose in the early 1970s. In July 1971, the Japanese government was surprised by Nixon’s dramatic announcement of his forthcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China. Many Japanese were chagrined by the failure of the United States to consult in advance with Japan before making such a fundamental change in foreign policy. The following month, the government was again surprised to learn that, without prior consultation, the United States had imposed a 10% surcharge on imports, a decision certain to hinder Japan’s exports to the United States. Relations between Tokyo and Washington were further strained by the monetary crisis involving the December 1971 revaluation of the Japanese yen.
 
US dissatisfaction with Japanese defense efforts began to surface in 1975 when Secretary of Defense James A. Schlesinger publicly stigmatized Japan as a passive defense partner. Due to the crisis in Iran in 1979, the United States decided to relocate more than 50% of its naval strength from East Asian waters to the Indian Ocean. Japan was repeatedly pressed not only to increase its defense expenditures and build up its antisubmarine and naval patrol capabilities, but also to play a more active and positive security role generally.
 
Japan reacted to the Iranian hostage crisis by condemning the action as a violation of international law. At the same time, Japanese trading firms and oil companies reportedly purchased Iranian oil that had become available when the United States banned oil imported from Iran. This action brought sharp criticism from the United States of Japanese government “insensitivity” for allowing the oil purchases and led to a Japanese apology and agreement to participate in sanctions against Iran in concert with other United States allies.
 
The Japanese government, constrained by constitutional limitations and pacifist public opinion, responded slowly to pressures for a more rapid buildup of its Self-Defense Forces (SDF). It steadily increased its budgetary outlays for those forces, however, and indicated its willingness to shoulder more of the cost of maintaining the United States military bases in Japan. In 1976 the United States and Japan formally established a subcommittee for defense cooperation in the framework of a bilateral Security Consultative Committee provided for under the 1960 security treaty. This subcommittee, in turn, drew up new Guidelines for Japan-United States Defense Cooperation in 1978, under which military planners of the two countries conducted studies relating to joint military action in the event of an armed attack on Japan.
A qualitatively new stage of Japan-United States cooperation in world affairs appeared to be reached in late 1982 with the election of Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro. Officials of the Reagan administration worked closely with their Japanese counterparts to develop a personal relationship between the two leaders based on their common security and international outlook. Nakasone reassured United States leaders of Japan’s determination against the Soviet threat, closely coordinated policies with the US toward such Asian trouble spots as the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia, and worked cooperatively with the US in developing China policy. The Japanese government welcomed the increase of United States forces in Japan and the western Pacific, continued the steady buildup of the SDF, and positioned Japan firmly on the side of the United States against the threat of Soviet international expansion.
 
The main area of non-cooperation between the United States and Japan in the 1980s was Japanese resistance to repeated American efforts to get Japan to open its markets more to foreign goods. To deal with domestic pressures while trying to avoid a break with the United States, the Japanese government engaged in protracted negotiations. This tactic bought time for declining industries to restructure themselves and new industries to grow stronger. Agreements reached dealt with some aspects of the problems, but it was common for trade or economic issues to be dragged out in talks over several years, involving more than one market-opening agreement. Such agreements were sometimes vague and subject to conflicting interpretations in Japan and the United States. A key arena for trade talks was the Market-Oriented Sector-Selective (MOSS) talks started by the Reagan administration in March 1985. The MOSS talks covered Japanese trade in five areas: telecommunications; medical equipment and pharmaceuticals; forestry products; electronics; and auto parts.
 
One problem that involved both trade and security occurred in 1987 when American officials and media lashed out at Toshiba for illegally selling sophisticated machinery of American origin to the Soviet Union, which reportedly allowed Moscow to make submarines quiet enough to avoid United States detection.
 
US-Japan relations became more uncertain in the early 1990s than at any time since World War II. The post-Cold War environment strengthened the relative importance of economic over military power as the major source of world influence. This shift affected the perceived relative standing of Japan, the United States, and other powers. Increasingly, Japan was expected to shoulder international aid and economic responsibilities that in the past were discharged by the United States and other Western countries.
Some public opinion polls in the US showed that most respondents considered the challenge from Japan to be more serious than that from Russia. Similarly, poll data in Japan showed that most Japanese considered negative American attitudes toward Japan a reflection of US anger at “America’s slipping economic position.” Some Japanese commentators argued that the United States was weak, dependent on Japan, and unable to come to terms with world economic competition.
 
In 1993, the Clinton Administration negotiated the United States-Japan Framework for a New Economic Partnership. At the insistence of the Clinton administration, new criteria were developed to determine whether Japan was fulfilling its obligations under the framework. This proved highly controversial, and the two countries never agreed on the role that “objective criteria” would play or what it would constitute.
 
Over the years, Japanese investors have established a strong presence in the United States. Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US surged in the 1980s and continued to increase in the 1990s. In the 1980s, Japanese investors acquired such high-profile US assets as Columbia Pictures, Rockefeller Center, and Pebble Beach Golf Course. These investments followed surges in Japanese investments in the United States by Japanese consumer electronics firms and auto producers. The rapid increase of the investments and their high visibility generated concerns in the United States of Japan “buying up the United States.”
 
 
U.S.-Japanese Relations after Koizumi (by Michael J Green, Washington Quarterly) (PDF)
U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: Significance, Prospects, and Policy Options (by William H. Cooper, Congressional Research Service) (PDF)
Chronology of U.S.-Japan Relations (Embassy of the United States in Japan)
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Current U.S. Relations with Japan

Economics and trade are the centerpieces of the American-Japanese relationship. Persistent US trade deficits with Japan have been the source of considerable angst among officials in Washington. Problems in US-Japan economic relations, especially the notion that Japan has at times out-competed the United States, have dominated trade policy between the two countries.

 
In recent years the bilateral economic relationship has diminished somewhat as a priority. One reason is due to Japan’s decade of poor economic performance, which changed the popular perception in the United States of Japan as an economic threat. From 1980 through 1990, Japan’s average GDP growth rate was 4.1% per year. That number fell to 1.4% from 1991 to 2000 and to 0.9% from 2001 to 2003. However, Japan has enjoyed continuous economic growth in the last few years.
 
Another reason for the shift in priorities is the rise of China as a trade power. Since 2000, the US bilateral trade deficit with China has exceeded the deficit with Japan, and the gap between the two deficits continues to grow. In 2007, the US trade deficit with Japan was $82.8 billion, the one with China was $256.2 billion. The growing deficit with China has forced US policymakers to focus more on the Communist Asian giant than the “other” Asian giant. For Japan, China has emerged as a major economic competitor and/or partner in the region requiring more attention.
 
Other reasons for the shift in policy priorities between the US and Japan involve foreign policy and national security concerns that have trumped commercial concerns since September 11,
2001, along with increasing worries over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
 
Also, the United States and Japan have been forging economic relations with other countries and regions through free trade agreements (FTAs), which has reduced the focus on their own bilateral relations. The United States has entered into FTAs with Jordan (2001), Singapore (2003), Chile (2004), Australia (2004), Bahrain (2004) and Morocco (2004). The Bush Administration has also launched initiatives with the ASEAN members (the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative) and countries of the Middle East (the Middle East Free Trade Initiative) that could lead to free trade arrangements.
 
Japan entered into its first FTA with Singapore in November 2002. In addition to the Singapore agreement, Japan is building its economic presence in East Asia by negotiating FTAs with South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Mexico.
 
Although the security relationship between the US and Japan has diminished in importance since the end of the Cold War, the US continues to station a sizeable force in Japan. There are approximately 90 US military facilities, including major military bases, throughout mainland Japan and Okinawa. They are concentrated on Okinawa (37), and inKanagawa (15), Nagasaki (11), and Tokyo (7). About 52,000 US troops are stationed in these bases.
 
A total of 796,700 people identified themselves as being of Japanese ancestry in the 2000 US census. Most Japanese immigrants live on the west coast, with California claiming the largest population.
 
In 2006, 816,727 Americans visited Japan. The number of visitors has fluctuated in recent years, with a low of 655,821 tourists in 2003, and a high of 822,033 tourists in 2005.
 
In 2006, 3,672,584 Japanese traveled to the US. The number of Japanese tourists fluctuated between a low of 3,169,682 (2003) and a high of 3,883,906 (2005) since 2002.
 
Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress (by Chanlett-Avery, Cooper and Manyin, Congressional Research Service)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Japan and the United States are the two largest economic powers in the world. Together they account for more than 40% of world domestic product, for a significant portion of international trade in goods and services, and for a major portion of international investment.

 
The US-Japan economic relationship is strong. The two economies are highly integrated via trade in goods and services and represent large markets for each other’s exports and imports.
 
Although US-Japan bilateral trade remains large, the importance of the United States and Japan as their respective trade partners has been diminishing. In 1996, Japan bought 10.8% of US exports and was the second largest (next to Canada) US export market. By 2008, sales to Japan accounted for 5.1% of US exports and had declined to the fourth largest US export market (behind Canada, Mexico and China). In 1996, 14.5% of US imports came from Japan and Japan was the second largest (next to Canada) source of US imports. However, by 2008, it accounted for only 6.6% and declined to the fourth largest source behind Canada, China, and Mexico.
 
US imports from Japan are concentrated within three main categories. About 75% of imports in 2007 consisted of passenger cars and parts; computers and components; office machinery parts; and electrical machinery (primarily video cameras). US exports to Japan were much more diverse, but a major portion of those exports were in cilivian aircraft, computers and components; gas turbines; office machinery parts; electrical machinery (integrated circuits and electrical apparatus for line telephone systems); optical and medical equipment; and agricultural products such as corn, soybeans and meat.
 
Overall, the US continued to endure a significant trade deficit with Japan. In 2007, the US imported a total of $145.4 billion from Japan, while exporting $62.6 billion.
 
Japan is the second largest foreign source of financing of the US national debt. Japan is also a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, and the United States is the origin of much of the foreign investment in Japan.
 
By 2000, the level of Japanese FDI in the United States rose to $159.7 billion but declined to $147 billion by 2002. The level of Japan’s FDI in the United States has increased since, reaching $211 billion in 2006, second only to investments from the United Kingdom.
 
Japanese majority-owned affiliates in the United States employ 6.1 million US workers.
 
In 2007, the US sold $3.12 billion in defense articles and services to Japan.
 
Department of Commerce U.S. Commercial Service Focus on Japan
Department of Commerce Country Commercial Guide Japan 2007
The Combined Official View: United States-Japan Investment Initiative 2007 Report (PDF)
Top Ten Countries with which the U.S. has a Trade Deficit
U.S.-Japan Economy: Never Better US Embassy in Japan)
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Controversies

Japanese Protests over Basing of Nuclear Carrier

In September 2008 the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, arrived in Japan to a mixed greeting. The ship sailed into Yokosuka, a naval hub 30 miles south of Tokyo, becoming the first US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be based outside of the United States. Japan agreed to accept the George Washington to replace the diesel USS Kitty Hawk, which is being retired from service. The decision was greeted with criticism by many Japanese, saying they feared radiation and crimes by US military personnel. American officials argued that the carrier needs to be based at Yokosuka due to East Asia’s tense security situation.
 
Arrival of Nuclear Sub Prompts Concerns
In August 2008 US Navy officials admitted to Japan’s government that a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Houston, may have leaked radiation during visits to the southern Japanese ports of Sasebo and Okinawa in March and April. The US insisted the amount of radioactivity was negligible, but the news caused a stir in Japan, where the continued presence of the US military and its nuclear vessels remain controversial. News of the incident came just weeks ahead of the arrival of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington in Yokosuka and the arrival of another American nuclear-powered submarine, the USS La Jolla, which experienced a small fire when it visited Sasebo in July 2004. No one was hurt in the incident.
 
Japan Bans US Beef over ‘Mad Cow’ Concerns
In 2003 Japan banned all imports of beef from the United States following the discovery of cattle in the US that were infected with “mad cow disease.” Japan lifted its ban on US beef in December 2005 with certain stipulations, such as shipments would consist solely of beef and beef products from cows under 30 months of age. The following year, Japanese officials reimposed the ban on US beef when a shipment of American-bread veal containing bones not approved under the 2005 agreement arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  
Japan Says Man Died of Mad Cow Disease (by Anthony Faiola, Washington Post)
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Human Rights

In general, Japan maintains an admirable human rights record. The State Department reports that there were some cases of violence and other abuse against women and children and of sexual harassment. Human trafficking remained a problem. Employment discrimination against women occurred.

 
Although prohibited by law, domestic violence against women remained a problem. District courts may impose six‑month restraining orders on perpetrators of domestic violence and impose sentences of up to one year in prison or fines of up to $8,500 (one million yen). In 2006 courts granted 2,208 out of 2,759 petitions for protection orders. The law, which also covers common‑law marriages and divorced individuals, was amended in July to include protection not only for victims of abuse but also for persons threatened with violence.
 
Prostitution has been illegal since 1957, but ir remains widespread. Domestic sex tourism was not a significant problem.
 
Sexual harassment in the workplace remains widespread. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) received 11,102 reports of such harassment in 2006. The law includes measures to identify companies that failed to prevent sexual harassment, but it does not include punitive measures to enforce compliance other than publicizing the names of offending companies. The government established hot lines and designated ombudsmen to handle complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.
 
The issue of “comfort women,” or women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops in World War II, continues to draw controversy. In 1995 the government established the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF), which sent a signed apology from the prime minister along with privately raised financial compensation to each victim. Critics of the policy towards comfort women maintained that the apology letter from the prime minister took moral but not legal responsibility for the suffering endured by the comfort women and called for the government to pay direct compensation.
 
Reports of child abuse continued to increase at an alarming rate. In FY 2006 there were 37,343 reported cases of child abuse by parents or guardians. According to the National Police Agency (NPA), 59 children died after being abused.
 
The law does not criminalize the possession of child pornography, which often depicts the brutal sexual abuse of small children. The absence of a statutory basis makes it difficult for police to obtain search warrants, preventing them from effectively enforcing existing child pornography laws or participating in international law enforcement efforts in this area. Along with child pornography involving real victims, child molesters used cartoons and comics depicting child pornography to seduce children. Internet Service Providers in Japan acknowledged that the country has become a hub for child pornography, leading to greater victimization of children both domestically and abroad
 
Human trafficking remains a significant problem despite government efforts, including stricter requirements for entertainment visas and more aggressive investigation and prosecution of offenders. The country remains a destination and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and other purposes. Victims come from China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent Latin America. There were also reports of internal trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Recent appointees have all been beneficiaries of patronage by both Democratic and Republican presidents. President Bill Clinton’s two ambassadors to Japan were former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. President George W. Bush selected former GOP Senator Howard Baker and Tom Schieffer, who has known Bush since their days together owning the Texas Rangers.

 
Townsend Harris
Appointment: Jan 19, 1859
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 5, 1859
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 26, 1862
 
Robert H. Pruyn
Appointment: Oct 12, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Apr 28, 1865
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1862.
 
Chauncey M. Depew
Appointment: Nov 15, 1865
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; declined appointment.
 
Robert B. Van Valkenburgh
Appointment: Jan 18, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1867
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 11, 1869
 
Charles E. De Long
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 11, 1869
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Charles E. De Long
Appointment: Jul 14, 1870
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 9, 1872
Termination of Mission: Had farewell audience, Oct 7, 1873
 
John A. Bingham
Appointment: May 31, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 7, 1873
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 2, 1885
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 11, 1873.
 
Richard B. Hubbard
Appointment: Apr 2, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1889
 
John F. Swift
Appointment: Mar 12, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1889
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 10, 1891
 
Frank L. Coombs
Appointment: Apr 20, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 13, 1892
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 14, 1893
 
Edwin Dun
Appointment: Apr 4, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 14, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 2, 1897
 
Alfred E. Buck
Appointment: Apr 13, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 3, 1898
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Dec 4, 1902
 
Lloyd C. Griscom
Appointment: Dec 16, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1903
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Nov 19, 1905
 
Luke E. Wright
Appointment: Jan 25, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1906
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Aug 13, 1907
 
Thomas J. O'Brien
Appointment: Jun 11, 1907
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 15, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 31, 1911
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 12, 1907.
 
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Aug 12, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 22, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1912
 
Larz Anderson
Appointment: Nov 14, 1912
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 1, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Mar 15, 1913
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 1, 1913.
 
George W. Guthrie
Appointment: May 20, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1913
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 8, 1917
 
Roland S. Morris
Appointment: Aug 1, 1917
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1917
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, May 15, 1920
 
Charles Beecher Warren
Appointment: Jun 29, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Jan 28, 1922
 
Cyrus E. Woods
Appointment: Mar 3, 1923
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 21, 1923
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Jun 5, 1924
 
Edgar A. Bancroft
Appointment: Sep 23, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1924
Termination of Mission: Died at Karuizawa, Jul 27, 1925
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 21, 1925.
 
Charles MacVeagh
Appointment: Sep 24, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Dec 6, 1928
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1925.
 
William R. Castle, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 11, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, May 27, 1930
 
W. Cameron Forbes
Appointment: Jun 17, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 25, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Japan, Mar 22, 1932
 
Joseph C. Grew
Appointment: Feb 19, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 14, 1932
Termination of Mission: Japan declared war on the U.S., Dec 8, 1941 (Tokyo time)
Note: Grew, having been interned, left Japan Jun 25, 1942.
 
Robert D. Murphy
Appointment: Apr 18, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: May 9, 1952
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Apr 28, 1953
Note: Embassy Tokyo was reestablished Apr 28, 1952 with Ambassador Murphy in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
John M. Allison
Appointment: Apr 2, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: May 28, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 2, 1957
 
Douglas MacArthur 2d
Appointment: Dec 4, 1956
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 25, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 12, 1961
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 29 1957.
 
Edwin O. Reischauer
Appointment: Mar 29, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 27, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 19, 1966
 
U. Alexis Johnson
Appointment: Sep 1, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 15, 1969
 
Armin H. Meyer
Appointment: May 27, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 3, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 27, 1972
 
Robert Stephen Ingersoll
Appointment: Feb 29, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 12, 1972
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 8, 1973
 
James D. Hodgson
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 19, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 5, 1977
 
Michael J. Mansfield
Appointment: Apr 22, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 10, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 22, 1988
 
Michael Hayden Armacost
Appointment: Apr 20, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 19, 1993
 
Walter F. Mondale
Appointment: Aug 2, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 15, 1996
 
Thomas S. Foley
Appointment: Oct 31, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 1, 2001
 
Howard Baker, Jr.
Appointment: May 31, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 5, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 17, 2005
 
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Japan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sasae, Kenichiro

Challenged in recent years by territorial disputes with China and South Korea and the bellicose rhetoric of nuclear-armed North Korea, Japan late last year replaced its ambassadors to China, South Korea and the U.S. with senior Foreign Ministry officials. Despite an anti-corruption rule adopted in 2002 barring high ministry bureaucrats from becoming ambassadors, the new ambassador to the U.S. is Kenichiro Sasae, most recently vice minister for foreign affairs, who succeeded Ichiro Fujisaki, who was Tokyo's man in Washington starting in June 2008.

 

Born circa 1952, Sasae joined the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974. Career highlights from the first 25 years of his diplomatic career include service at the Japanese embassy in Washington, DC, at the embassy in London, U.K., and at Japan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Ascending to the top of the Foreign Ministry bureaucracy, Sasae served as deputy director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau from 1999 to 2000, as executive assistant for Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Yoshirō Mori from 2000 to 2001, deputy director-general of the Foreign Policy Bureau from 2001 to 2002, and director-general of the Economic Affairs Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

 

From 2005 to 2008, Sasae served as director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, where he was Japan's representative to the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds (held between July 2005 and September 2007) of the “six-party talks” among South Korea, North Korea, the U.S., China, Japan, and Russia, that sought to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns that arose when North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty in 2003 and developed a nuclear weapons program.

 

Sasae served as deputy minister for foreign affairs from 2008 to 2010, and as vice minister for foreign affairs, the top civil service job at the Foreign Ministry, from 2010 to 2012.

 

His wife, Nobuko Sasae, is a professional translator specializing in simultaneous translation. The couple has two children.

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

What Lies Ahead for Japan and the United States (by Kenichiro Sasae)

Veteran Diplomats Dominate Key Envoy Posts (Asahi Shimbun editorial)

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Japan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Kennedy, Caroline
ambassador-image

Nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy has been a celebrity since the day she was born, yet she has managed to control the glare of the limelight during her adult life, just as her mother did in the years after the tragic death of her father 50 years ago. Although she has continued her family’s commitment to public service and Democratic Party activism, Caroline Kennedy has never subjected herself to the scrutiny of an election campaign, and she is not an overtly ideological figure. Considered a lock to receive Senate confirmation, Kennedy will be the first woman to serve in the post, succeeding John Roos, a technology lawyer and Barack Obama donor.

 

Born November 27, 1957, in New York City, Caroline’s parents were John F. Kennedy, who was then U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and heiress Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. When she was almost three years old her father was elected President, and she and her brother, John F. Kennedy, Jr., became oft-photographed media darlings as the first children to reside in the White House in many years. One such photo, which appeared on the cover of Life magazine in September 1962, showed Caroline riding her pony, “Macaroni,” on the White House grounds, inspiring singer-songwriter Neil Diamond to write his hit song “Sweet Caroline,” a fact he first revealed when singing it for her 50th birthday.

 

After President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, the Kennedy family moved back to their home in Georgetown, but well-wishers and gawkers made privacy impossible. In mid-1964 Jackie Kennedy moved the family to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Caroline attended The Brearley School and Convent of the Sacred Heart, graduating Concord Academy in Massachusetts in 1975.

 

Throughout these years, Jackie Kennedy generally succeeded in maintaining distance from the press, whose attention she feared in light of her husband’s assassination, and raising her children in relative privacy without entirely abandoning a public role. In 1967, for example, nine-year-old Caroline christened the Navy aircraft carrier “USS John F. Kennedy” in a heavily publicized ceremony. Living in New York, away from their Hyannisport cousins, Caroline and John, Jr. became very close, particularly after their mother’s death in 1994. Her brother’s death in a plane crash in 1999 left Caroline the sole survivor of the young White House family that captivated the nation in the early 1960s.

 

Following family tradition, Caroline Kennedy attended Harvard University, earning a B.A. in 1979 and a J.D. at Columbia Law School in 1988. After working as a photographer’s assistant at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and a summer intern at the New York Daily News in 1977, she “considered becoming a photojournalist, but soon realized she could never make her living observing other people because they were too busy watching her.” At the Daily News, Kennedy reportedly “sat on a bench alone for two hours the first day before other employees even said hello to her”; according to former News reporter Richard Licata, “Everyone was too scared.”

 

After graduating Radcliffe College, Kennedy worked as a research assistant in the Film and Television Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, later becoming a “liaison officer between the museum staff and outside producers and directors shooting footage at the museum,” and helping coordinate the Sesame Street special “Don’t Eat the Pictures.” While at the Met, she met exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg, whom she married on July 19, 1986; her uncle Ted walked her down the aisle at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville, Massachusetts. The couple has three children: Rose, Tatiana, and John.

 

Kennedy is a writer and editor, and has co-authored two books on civil liberties with Ellen Alderman: In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action (1992) and The Right to Privacy (1997). She and others of her family created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989, which is given to public officials whose actions demonstrate politically courageous leadership in the spirit of John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage.

 

From 2002 through 2004, Caroline worked as chief fundraiser for New York City’s public schools. For a salary of $1, she helped raise more than $65 million for the city’s public schools. From 2002 to 2012, she served as one of two vice chairs of the board of directors of The Fund for Public Schools, a public-private partnership founded in 2002 to attract private funding for public schools in New York City.

 

In 2008, Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President early in the primary race, publishing a New York Times op-ed on January 27, 2008, entitled, “A President Like My Father.” Her concluding lines were: “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president—not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” The only other presidential candidate she had ever endorsed was her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), in 1980. She followed up by campaigning for Obama, serving as co-chair of his Vice Presidential Search Committee, and addressing the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

 

After Obama chose then-Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Kennedy expressed interest in being appointed to Clinton’s vacant New York Senate seat—which had been held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968—and began a whirlwind campaign of interviews and appearances. Although she was endorsed by several prominent New York Democrats, she was criticized for failing to vote in several elections, providing few details about her political views, and not publicly releasing her financial data.

 

Although Kennedy promised to release her finances if she were appointed, she eventually withdrew from consideration, citing “personal reasons.” She did reveal, however, a number of political positions, including support for same-sex marriage, abortion rights, gun control, charter schools, a path to citizenship for the undocumented, labor law reform, and restoring the federal assault weapons ban. She opposes the death penalty and school vouchers, and stated that she “opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.”

 

Caroline Kennedy has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. She is chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. In September 2012, she was appointed as a general trustee of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is also on the board of directors of New Visions for Public Schools and serves as honorary chair of the American Ballet Theater. From 1998 to 2009, she served on the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund. From 1994 to 2011, she served on the board of directors of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

 

Caroline Kennedy’s financial-disclosure forms, filed as part of her nomination, show her net worth to be between $67 million and $278 million, including family trusts, government bonds, commercial property, and eight Cayman Island partnerships, with a combined value ranging from $542,000 to $1.2 million. She also owns her mother’s 375-acre estate, “Red Gate Farm,” in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard.

 

Obviously a lifelong Democrat, Caroline Kennedy has contributed more than $55,000 to party candidates and organizations, including $5,500 to the Democratic National Committee, $5,000 to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, $4,600 to his 2008 campaign, $4,600 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary run, and $5,000 to her 2006 senatorial campaign.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Caroline Kennedy Worth Up to $278 Million, Records Show (by Jonathan D. Salant & Kathleen Hunter, Bloomberg)

A President Like My Father (by Caroline Kennedy, New York Times)

Obama Nominates Caroline Kennedy to Be Ambassador to Japan (by Mark Landler, New York

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Schieffer, Tom
ambassador-image

John Thomas “Tom” Schieffer was sworn in as the US Ambassador to Japan on April 1, 2005 and served until January 15, 2009. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Schieffer attended the University of Texas, where he earned a BA in government (1970), an MA in international relations (1972), and studied law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1979.

 
Schieffer has had a long involvement in Texas politics. At the age of 25, he was elected (as a Democrat) to the Texas House of Representatives. After serving three terms, he became a corporate lawyer specializing in the oil industry. From 1989 to 1998, he and partners George W. Bush and Edward Rose owned the Texas Rangers baseball team. Schieffer went on to develop the real estate surrounding the Rangers’ stadium. As soon as Bush became president, Schieffer was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Australia. Schieffer’s brother Bob, the host of CBS News’ Face the Nation, moderated the third Bush-Kerry debate in 2004 while Tom was Bush’s ambassador to Australia and the third Obama-McCain debate while Tom was ambassador to Japan.
 
Schieffer has mostly contributed to Democratic campaigns, in particular those of long-time Texas Congressman Martin Frost, according to OpenSecrets.org. He did contribute $1,000 to George W. Bush in 1999.

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