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Home > Special Topics > Activity Report Last Updated: 14:11 11/25/2008
Activity Report #106: November 25, 2008

New US President Obama and Japan's Next Political Leader: Symposium

Takahiro MIYAO (Professor and Head, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, IUJ)

IUJ Global Communications Platform-TUJ Joint Symposium
Date/Time:November 18 (Tuesday) 16:00-18:00
Place:GLOCOM Hall, 4-15-21 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Program: 16:00-17:30
Symposium: New US President Obama & Next Leader in Japanese Politics
Prof. Kazuhiko Togo (Temple University Japan)
Mr. Jun Okumura (Eurasia Group)
Prof. Stephen Givens (Aoyama Gakuin University)
Prof. Takahiro Miyao (International University of Japan)
Free Discussion
Organizers: Global Communications Platform, IUJ
Temple University Japan

Prof. Kazuhiko Togo (Temple University Japan), Mr. Jun Okumura (Eurasia Group), Prof. Stephen Givens (Aoyama Gakuin University)Following the first symposium on US President-elect Obama at Temple University's Azabu Hall on November 6, the second round of panel discussion on the Obama administration and Japanese politics was held at GLOCOM Hall in Roppongi on November 18. The following is a summary of the discussion.

1) How to characterize new President Obama and his administration?
Since there is not yet much information available regarding the Obama administration, the panelists could not say much but "some concerns about the new administration," "no major problems to be expected" and "still a mystery."

2) How is Asia Policy (toward Japan and China) likely to change, as Mr. Obama takes office?
The three panelists agreed that while Japan, unlike China, is not particularly mentioned in Mr. Obama's policy agenda, his approach toward Japan will depend partly on who will be his main Cabinet members, and mostly on what Japan will do for the US and the world. Particularly important may be what Japan can contribute in the areas of "the two wars, global warming and the financial crisis" on Mr. Obama's agenda.

3) What should Japan do to work effectively with the next Obama administration?
First, on the private business level, Japanese companies can move in to help out American auto companies, as Japanese financial institutions have already been doing in the financial sector, although there is some doubt about the success of such an attempt (Mr. Givens). The point is how Japan can respond to the request that will most likely be made by Mr. Obama for more burden-sharing to build "global infrastructure" (Mr. Okumura). Crucially important is how much Japan can contribute to the issues of "global warming" and "nuclear nonproliferation," especially in relation to North Korea and Japan-US security alliance by overcoming political problems within Japan (Mr. Togo).

4) Who should be Japan's next leader for Japan to move forward with the Obama administration?
The three panelists agreed that a more domestically and internationally appealing leader with a strong will and a global perspective is urgently needed to steer Japan in the right direction. However, although the names of former Prime Minister Koizumi and a couple of his reformist allies were referred to by the panelists, it appeared that more time would be required to see the emergence of an "Obama" in Japanese politics.

After the panelists' presentations, a lively discussion took place, where participants mainly expressed their opinions and impressions on an administration yet to be formed. A more meaningful discussion should be made in the next round of the symposium on this topic to be held after Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

This report is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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