EXECUTIVE LECTURE FORUM:
Activities: 2005: Abstract: Ihara
 

May 19, 2005


Minister Junichi Ihara
Economic Minister
Embassy of Japan, Washington, D.C.

Topic:  U.S.-Japan Economic Relations and Community Building in East-Asia.

The Economic Minister of the Japan Embassy in Washington, D.C., Junichi Ihara, offered a unique and frank assessment on the evolution of the Japan-U.S. economic relations between the early 90’s to the present time.  He also spent time to inform our ELF members on how the Japanese policy is coping with the changing situation in East Asia, especially with the dangers inherent in the rise of China’s military and economic power.

The Minister admitted that Japan misjudged its economic power infrastructure.  As he said, Japan recognized belatedly in the1990s that his country was far below their global economic partners.  As an example, he mentioned that Japan’s banking system and its mechanism in business development were inferior to the United States.  Moreover, Japan was incapable of making a meaningful human contribution to international crisis.  Here, he mentioned that Japan gave 13 million dollars to Kuwait’s reconstruction, but did not send troops to participate in the Gulf War.  Also, Japan was promoting regional cooperation in East Asia without the United States.  Not surprisingly, at that time, he said that the United States did not consider Japan a credible partner.

Today, however, Japan has restructured its economic structure, as well as its corporate culture.  Japanese manufactures have deployed aggressive overseas investments.  For example, today, Japanese investments in the United States exceed Japanese exports to America.  On the political front, Japan now is sending civil defense forces overseas for peacekeeping efforts and natural disaster relief.  Today, Japan is fighting international terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside the American forces.

The Minister concluded his very well-received briefing with the remark, “Today, the U.S.-Japan alliance is strong and beneficial for us and for the United States.”

© 2005 The Radványi Chair in International Security Studies, Mississippi State University.
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