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Reviving Japan: Can It Win the Asian Century?

January 4, 2012 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Post-Event Summary
Japan is currently facing many struggles, ranging from high national debt to political stagnation. In an event held Wednesday at AEI, experts from both Japan and the U.S. discussed the actions Japan should take to revive its political and economic systems and protect its security. Taro Kono of the National Diet insisted that the Liberal Democratic Party should focus on center-right policies such as small government and economic growth to motivate the general public to participate in the political discussion and future elections. He emphasized the responsibility of Japan’s politicians to reinvigorate the country. AEI’s Claude Barfield pointed out the significance to Japan of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he noted will be difficult but beneficial to both Japan and the U.S. Tetsuo Kotani of the Okazaki Institute also emphasized the importance of leadership in Japan, calling for leaders with “philosophy and determination.” Although Japan currently confronts many difficulties in its political, economic, and national security arenas, AEI’s Michael Auslin focused on Japan’s strengths and stability. Finally, Sugio Takahashi of Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies and Ministry of Defense illustrated some dynamics in Japan’s security policy, claiming that this is a sphere where the political parties have mostly come to a consensus. On balance, the speakers emphasized that although many problems exist, there is still hope for Japan to enact the policies it needs to win its future.

—Mayuko Yatsu

Event Description
Japan has fallen on hard times. Economic and political stagnation and the March 2011 earthquake have inhibited the nation from assuming a more proactive global role. But Japan, one of America’s bedrock allies, has an important part to play in the coming “Asian century.” How can Japan reinvigorate its political and economic systems? Given China’s rise and increasing assertiveness, how will Japan approach an uncertain security environment? At this AEI event, Taro Kono (Liberal Democratic Party) will offer his vision for what Japan needs to win its future, followed by a panel discussion with AEI and Japanese scholars.


1:45 PM

2:00 PM

TARO KONO, National Diet of Japan (Liberal Democratic Party)

Question and Answer

TETSUO KOTANI, The Okazaki Institute
SUGIO TAKAHASHI, National Institute for Defense Studies and Strategic Planning Office, Ministry of Defense
RANDY SCHRIVER, Project 2049 Institute

3:30 PM

Michael Auslin is resident scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies and concurrently director of Japan Studies at AEI. He is also a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, writing on Japan and Asian security. He specializes in U.S.-Asian relations, U.S. security policy and Asian regional security issues. Mr. Auslin was an associate professor of history at Yale University and senior research fellow at Yale’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies before joining AEI. He also has been a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo. He received the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award for Excellence in 2010 and has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, and an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society, in addition to being a former Fulbright and Japan Foundation Scholar. His writings include the award-winning book “Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy” (Harvard University Press, 2004), the report “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons: Towards a Regional Strategy” (AEI, 2010) and “Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of U.S.-Japan Relations” (Harvard University Press, 2011). In addition to his Wall Street Journal column, he appears regularly in U.S. and foreign media, commenting on current Asian and security issues.

Claude Barfield, a former consultant to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, is a resident scholar at AEI, where he researches international trade policy (including trade policy in China and East Asia), the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property, and science and technology policy. His many books include “SWAP: How Trade Works” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Free Trade, Sovereignty, Democracy: The Future of the World Trade Organization” (AEI Press, 2001), in which he identifies challenges to the WTO and to the future of trade liberalization.

Taro Kono is a fifth-term member of the House of Representatives. He represents the 15th District of Kanagawa Prefecture, which encompasses the cities of Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Oiso and Ninomiya on the Sagami Bay. Mr. Kono was first elected to the House of Representatives as a Liberal Democratic Member in October 1996 and has been reelected ever since. In the summer of 2009, he ran for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party and came in second. Until the Parliament was dissolved in August 2008, he was the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of the Representatives. Mr. Kono also served as senior vice minister of justice from November 2005 to September 2006 and parliamentary secretary for public management in 2002, with responsibilities including administrative reforms, local government matters and e-Government. Mr. Kono has also interned for former congressman (and current senator) Richard Shelby of Alabama and studied American foreign policy under Madeleine Albright.

Tetsuo Kotani is a special research fellow at the Okazaki Institute in Tokyo and a PhD candidate at Doshisha University in Kyoto. He is also a senior research fellow at the Research Institute for Peace and Security in Tokyo, a member of the International Advisory Board at Project 2049 Institute in Washington and a nonresident SPF fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu. He was a research fellow at Ocean Policy Research Foundation in 2006–2010 and a visiting fellow at the US-Japan Center at Vanderbilt University in 2003–06. His dissertation focus is on the strategic implication of homeporting U.S. carriers in Japan, and his other research interests include U.S.-Japan relations and international relations and maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. He received a security studies fellowship from the RIPS in 2006–08 and won the 2003 Japanese Defense Minister Prize. He has published numerous articles both in English and Japanese and is preparing his first book, “KaiyoKokka” (Maritime Nation).

Gary J. Schmitt is the director of the Program on Advanced Strategic Studies at AEI and the director of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship. Mr. Schmitt is a former staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He was executive director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during President Ronald Reagan’s second term. Mr. Schmitt’s work focuses on longer-term strategic issues that will affect America’s security at home and its ability to lead abroad. His books include “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007), to which he was a contributing author and co-editor; “Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence” (Brassey’s, 2002), coauthored with Abram Shulsky and now in its third edition; and “U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads: Agendas for Reform” (Brassey’s, 1995), to which he is a contributing author and co-editor. He is contributing author and editor of two recent books: “The Rise of China: Essays on the Future Competition” (Encounter Books, 2009) and “Safety, Liberty, and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism” (AEI Press, 2010).

Randy Schriver is president and chief executive officer of the Project 2049 Institute. He is also a founding partner of Armitage International LLC, based in Arlington, Virginia, and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2003 to 2005 and as chief of staff and senior policy adviser to then-deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage from 2001 to 2003. Before his work at the State Department, he was an independent consultant and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Schriver has also served as an active-duty naval intelligence officer. He has won numerous military and civilian awards from the U.S. government and was recently presented with the Order of the Propitious Clouds by the president of Taiwan for promoting Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Sugio Takahashi is senior fellow of the National Institute for Defense Studies and currently works with the deputy director of the Office of Strategic Planning of Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Japan. He has published extensively in the areas of nuclear strategy, the Japan-U.S. alliance and East Asian regional security, including “Implications of Recent Challenges in Nuclear Deterrence on Japan’s Security: NPR, New START, ‘The World Without Nuclear Weapon,’ and Extended Deterrence” (Kaigai Jijo, July 2010, Japanese); “Transformation of Japan’s Defense Industry? Assessing the Impact of the Revolution in Military Affairs” (Security Challenges, Summer 2008); and “Dealing with the Ballistic Missile Threat: Whether Japan Should Have a Strike Capability Under Its Exclusively Defense-Oriented Policy” (NIDS Security Reports, December 2006).


January 4, 2012
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Tags:


AEI, Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036 United States
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