After World War II, philanthropy played a critical, but often overlooked, role in driving the dramatic change in perceptions and values that enabled two bitter foes, Japan and the United States, to become the closest of allies. Using extensive archival research and interviews, JCIE conducted a major study that examined the long-term impact of foundations and individual philanthropists, mainly in the United States but also including some in Japan, on the bilateral relationship. This project was designed to fill gaps in the knowledge of US-Japan relations and shed light on the historic role of philanthropy and civil society in international relations. Also, as part of this project, leaders and analysts in the fields of philanthropy and US-Japan relations gathered in a series of workshops in the United States and Japan to share their experiences and discuss the impact of philanthropy on various aspects of the bilateral relationship.

The project culminated in a major conference, “Lessons in Rebuilding Relations Between Nations: The Role of Philanthropy in Postwar US-Japan Relations, 1945–1975,” held in Tokyo on October 4–5, 2004. Nearly 100 leaders from the fields of civil society, philanthropy, and government gathered to review the contributions of American and Japanese philanthropy to US-Japan relations after World War II and draw contemporary lessons from this experience. Keynote speeches were offered by Susan Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation, and Sadako Ogata, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The conference drew on a series of reports which have been revised and was published in 2006 as Philanthropy and Reconciliation: Rebuilding Postwar U.S.-Japan Relations.

In addition to the edited volume, noted above, a number of articles have also been published in connection to this project:

  • Proceed with Care to Rebuild Peace,” by Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun, October 19, 2004)
  • “From Enemies to Allies: The Role of Philanthropy in Rebuilding Postwar U.S.-Japan Relations,” by James Gannon (Center for Global Partnership Newsletter, February 28, 2005)
  • “A Partnership in Review: Tilting at Stereotypes,” by Tadashi Yamamoto (Asahi Shimbun interview with JCIE President Tadashi Yamamoto, December 20, 2004)

Participants gathered at Pocantico, NY


The Role of Philanthropy in Postwar US-Japan Relations | 2003 Tokyo Workshop

A fourth workshop was held on July 12–13, 2003, at JCIE’s offices in Tokyo. The project team gathered to discuss the drafts and outlines of the results of their research on the various aspects of philanthropic involvement in the US-Japan relationship during the period of 1945–1975. The discussions focused on strategies for the final phase of archival research, interviews, and writing.

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The Role of Philanthropy in Postwar US-Japan Relations | 2002 Pocantico Workshop

On the weekend of October 12–13, 2002, JCIE held a workshop outside New York City at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The 23 participants, a number of whom were active in US-Japan philanthropy during the period of the study, shared their views regarding the motivations of grantmakers, the influence of the cold war and anticommunist sentiment on Japan-related grantmaking, the relationship between the government and foundations, and the impact of American philanthropy on Japan’s intellectual community and the US-Japan relationship.

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