Japan 101 Course: Understanding US Japan Relations | 2020 Session

September 8–October 6, 2020

A group of nine Congressional Staff participated in an eight session course on US-Japan relations as part of JCIE’s Congressional Staff Exchange Program. This course provided staff with an opportunity to meet virtually with a variety of experts from the US and Japan at a time when in-person exchange has not been possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The course coincided with a critical period in Japanese domestic politics as Prime Minister Abe stepped down and was replaced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.  In addition to covering this political shift, guest speakers for the course provided their insights on key issues for the US-Japan relationship including trade, security, and relations with China and Korea.

The next course is planned to take place in early 2021. 



Introduction: Understanding US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. SHEILA SMITH, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

The North Korea Challenge & the Future of Northeast Asia
Guest speaker: MR. HITOSHI TANAKA, Chairman, Institute for International Strategy; Senior Fellow, JCIE; former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs


 Managing Relations with China
Guest speaker: DR. AKIO TAKAHARA, Dean, Graduate School of Public Policy and Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics, Graduate School of Law and Politics, The University of Tokyo

The US-Japan Alliance and Asia’s Security
Guest speakers: MR. JAMES SCHOFF, Senior Fellow, Asia Program  , Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and RADM (ret). JAMES D. KELLY, former Commander, US nNaval Forces Japan; Dean Emiritus, US Naval War College


 Challenges & Opportunities in Japan-Korea Relations
Guest speaker: DR. YOSHIHIDE SOEYA, Professor Emiritus, Faculty of Law, Keio University

  US-Japan Trade Relations
Guest speaker: DR. MIREYA SOLIS, Director, Center for East Asia Policy Studies & Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, The Brookings Institution


 The Future of US-Japan Relations
Guest speaker: DR. GERALD CURTIS, Burgess Professor Emeritus, Columbia University

 COVID-19 & How It is Changing Japanese Society
Guest speaker: HON. KEIZO TAKEMI, Member House of Councillors (LDP); former Senior Vice Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare


YURI BECKELMAN, Deputy Chief of Staff, Representative Mark Takano (D-CA)

MARTHA CRAMER, Senior Policy Advisor, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

JIM DOLBOW, Military Legislative Assistant, Representative Austin Scott (R-GA)

DARRELL RICO DOSS, Legislative Counsel, Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO)

JOEL KERALIS, Legislative Assistant, Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE)

OMAIR MIRZA, Senior Policy Advisor, Representative André Carson (D-IN)

KATRINA OSHIMA, Staff Assistant, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, US House of Representatives

ALEJANDRO RENTERIA, Legislative Assistant, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

KAYLA WILLIAMS, Legislative Director, Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY)

This course has been made possible through the generous support of the Japan-US Friendship Commission, an independent federal agency dedicated to strengthening the US-Japan relationship through educational, cultural, and intellectual exchange.