Closing remarks by the Honorable Kenichi Okada, Consul-General of Japan in Chicago
Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies will host the first national conference on US-Japan relations on Friday, November 8 from 1:00pm to 5:30pm in the Shreve Auditorium. “The US-Japan Partnership in the 21st Century” will bring leading American and Japanese policy experts and scholars to the IU Bloomington campus to explore domestic and foreign policy challenges currently faced by the two nations.
Japan is one of the most important allies to the United States in the Asia-Pacific—a region two successive US presidential administrations have defined as the 21st century’s most important. The nations have robust ties not only across government and society but also in the exchange of people and ideas. Despite these links, the United States and Japan face a host of important and rapidly changing challenges, which range from the rise of China and North Korea’s nuclear program to domestic issues related to globalization, the climate crisis, and changing demographics.
The conference is of particular importance to Indiana since Japan’s ties to both the state and Indiana University are deep and longstanding. Japan is Indiana’s largest foreign direct investor, and Indiana is home to roughly 280 Japan-based companies that employ more than 58,000 Hoosiers. IU itself boasts over 1,500 Japanese alumni, as part of a relationship that started in 1891 when Takekuma Okada (MA 1891) became IU’s first international alumnus. Cultural ties and exchanges remain robust today. For example, the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields is currently hosting “Seasons of Japan,” an exhibit covering 700 years of Japanese art and culture.
Deepening IU’s research, teaching and programming on contemporary Japan and raising awareness about the importance of US-Japan relations for the Midwest and the Hoosier State are key objectives of the Hamilton Lugar School’s 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI), which is organizing the conference. Adam Liff, founding director of 21JPSI and assistant professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the Hamilton Lugar School’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, says that 21JPSI seeks to help students and members of the community “understand the importance of Japan, both domestically but also [in terms of] its role in the world and its relationship with the United States and Indiana.”
The November 8 conference will feature keynote speeches by Andrea Richter from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Richard Samuels—one of the world’s leading scholars of Japanese politics and foreign policy and a former chair of the US-Japan Friendship Commission. The Honorable Kenichi Okada, Consul-General of Japan in Chicago, will present closing remarks at 5:00pm.
The schedule also includes two panel discussions. The first will focus on foreign policy challenges and US-Japan relations with speakers from the Brookings Institution, the Hoover Institution, the RAND Corporation, and the Hamilton Lugar School. Topics will include the future of free and “fair” trade in the region in the aftermath of the United States’ 2017 withdrawal from the twelve-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan’s security concerns vis-à-vis China and North Korea, and regional geopolitics and economics.
The second panel, on domestic challenges in the context of US-Japan relations, will feature speakers from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the US Department of State, and Aoyama Gakuin University/Harvard University. The discussion will include a comparison of public opinion in Japan and the United States regarding the US-Japan alliance, free trade and China; the impact of domestic political considerations on Japanese and US foreign and climate change policy; and how political leaders and businesses are trying to navigate the motley assortment of challenges presented by globalization and automation.
The conference will provide students, faculty, staff and members of the community an opportunity to learn more about the importance of Japan and US-Japan relations for US security, US prosperity, and specifically to Indiana and the greater Midwest.
Beyond this event, the Hamilton Lugar School’s 21JPSI organizes a speaker series on a variety of topics related to contemporary Japan, has introduced new courses and supports student and faculty research travel to Japan. To learn more, visit jpsi.indiana.edu.
The Hamilton Lugar School at Indiana University is a national leader in area and international studies, promoting understanding of global issues informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. Named for revered Hoosier statesmen and foreign policy voices, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and the late former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, the school is committed to creating leaders who celebrate differences and seek shared understanding.