1996 Diplomatic Bluebook

General Overview -
The International Community in 1995

Japan-United States relations


The year 1995 marked the 50th year since the end of World War II for both Japan and the United States. During 1995, the two countries renewed their determination to develop their cooperative relationship in a future-oriented manner, looking toward the 21st century by reflecting on the development of the Japan-U.S. relationship over the past 50 years and by reaffirming the many achievements of those years.

In January 1995, Prime Minister Murayama visited the United States. During his Summit Meeting with President Clinton, the two leaders affirmed their intention to further develop the cooperative relations between Japan and the United States with a view to the 21st century while focusing on three specific areas: security dialogue, cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region (cooperation on vital global issues and APEC) and exchanges among the peoples of the two countries. Furthermore, recognizing that the foundation of the cooperative relations between Japan and the United States is built on trust which is generated through people-to-people exchange among the two peoples, the two leaders vowed to promote greater exchange of people between Japan and the United States.

In 1995, various events related to the 50th year since the end of World War II were held in various places under the auspices of both governments and private-sector organizations. The two governments had agreed to calmly deal with these events. There were commemorative ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the battle for Iwojima in March and for Okinawa in June. In September, a ceremony to commemorate the 50th year since the end of the war in the Pacific and the end of World War II was held in Honolulu. All of these ceremonies involved the U.S. Government. As a result of the agreed stance, the ceremonies were held under the basic theme that the peoples of both Japan and the United States were able to overcome past sorrows in a spirit which stressed the aspirations of both countries for friendship and peace. Furthermore, a variety of controversies erupted in both Japan and the United States regarding such matters as the planned Atomic Bomb Stamp and the Atomic Bomb Exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute; in all of these instances both governments handled them in a calm and cooperative manner.

At the Japan U.S. Summit held on the occasion of the Halifax Summit in June, it was reconfirmed that the Japan U.S. partnership was sound and strong. Although the autos and auto parts issues and the civil aviation issue had been difficult problems lying between the two countries, the two leaders reconfirmed that individual economic issues should not damage the overall Japan U.S. relations. In July, immediately after the Summit meeting, the autos and auto parts issues were resolved, and in the same month, the civil aviation negotiations also concluded successfully. During that Japan U.S. Summit meeting, the two leaders affirmed that Japan and the United States would continue to engage in close policy coordination to respond to issues concerning the international community, and especially those concerning the Asia Pacific region. They proceeded to build a new cooperative relationship by working through cooperation on global issues.

President Clinton was scheduled to make a State Visit in conjunction with the APEC Osaka Meetings in November in order to recapitulate the cooperative relationship and to clearly indicate to the peoples of both Japan and the United States the significance of Japan U.S. relations toward the 21st century. However, President Clinton was forced to postpone his visit to Japan due to an impasse in the U.S. Congress regarding the budget. Vice President Gore attended the APEC Osaka Meetings in place of President Clinton and had a meeting with Prime Minister Murayama. At that meeting, the importance of the Japan U.S. security arrangements in the post-Cold War era was reaffirmed, and the leaders agreed on the establishment of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa in order to study the consolidation, realignment and reduction of U.S. bases in Okinawa, an issue which had been raising increased concern on the part of the Japanese people particularly since the tragic incident involving a school girl occurred in Okinawa in September. (For further details on the Japan U.S. security arrangements, please refer to Chapter II, Part A, Section 1.b.)

Furthermore, in January 1996, after Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto assumed his premiership, Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda visited the United States and met with President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. They agreed that Japan U.S. relations should be developed even further.

Japan-U.S. Economic Relations

During the first half of 1995, there was a tense situation in the overall Japan-U.S. economic relationship which revolved around the autos and auto parts issues, as well as the aviation issue. However, the latter half of the year proceeded smoothly.

Among the four priority areas of the Japan-U.S. Framework for a New Economic Partnership, the autos and auto parts issues, which remained unresolved, involved difficult negotiations in which the United States side demanded actual numerical targets for purchases of foreign auto parts by Japanese auto makers as well as numerical targets for the number of foreign dealerships. In the middle of May, the United States announced that it would be placing a 100% tariff on imports of Japanese luxury cars as a unilateral measure based on Section 301 of the Trade Act, and actually suspended the liquidation of tariffs on these luxury cars, thus further heightening the tension between Japan and the United States. In response to this, Japan, by requesting consultations with the United States based on Article XXII Clause 1 of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, made clear its posture of calling for a settlement to trade disputes in accordance with international rules under the World Trade Organization. Eventually, this issue was resolved at the consultations at ministerial and vice-ministerial levels held in June in Geneva, parallel to the holding of the WTO Consultations, immediately before the 28 June deadline for the implementation of the unilateral measures against Japan. The solution achieved was consistent with the principles of the Framework Talks and international rules, namely the following points: 1) the practical numerical targets were excluded; 2) any measures which would constitute the intervention in the private sector and thus fall outside of government responsibility were avoided; and 3) the results of the measures to be taken should be equally applied to third countries on a most-favored nation (MFN) basis. At the Japan-U.S. Summit held in Halifax in June, the two countries decided to extend the Framework. It is vital that both Japan and the United States continue to steadily implement the content of that which was concluded under the Framework Talks.

In July, there were shifts in Japan-U.S. economic relations, such as the request by Eastman Kodak Company under Section 301 followed by the initiation of an investigation by the United States Trade Representative, as well as consultations at the WTO with the United States regarding the issue of differentials in Japanese distilled spirits tariffs. On 28 September, moreover, the Japanese forestry products and paper markets were put on the so-called "watch list" of Super 301. However, since the solution of the autos and auto parts issues, Japan-U.S. economic relations have entered a calm phase. Japan's trade surplus with the United States decreased by 17% in 1995 to US$45.6 billion, compared to the highest level ever recorded in the previous year of US$54.9 billion. (Trade statistics, customs clearance basis, Ministry of Finance)

In the area of civil aviation between Japan and the United States, Japan has long been negotiating with the United States to correct the imbalance that exists in this sector. In 1995, expanding cargo flight routes of a U.S. airline company became a new issue between the two countries. Ultimately, this issue was resolved through ministerial-level discussions. The two countries agreed to grant routes for the United States and to expand cargo flight routes for Japanese airline companies, thereby achieving a certain degree of balance. Furthermore, the two countries agreed to hold consultations to achieve equality of opportunity between Japanese and U.S. carriers and a framework in the all-cargo flight sector.

The Japan-U.S. Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective, and Exchanges Among the People of Japan and the United States

The Common Agenda is one of the major pillars of the Japan-U.S. Framework Talks, and provides a framework for cooperation under which the Governments of Japan and the United States can collaborate to seek solutions to global challenges in such fields as environment, narcotics, population, HIV-AIDS, and children's health, as well as to promote technical innovation and personnel exchanges. Since the Common Agenda was launched in 1993, there has been steady progress which led to important results. At the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held in January 1995, Women in Development (WID) was added as a new initiative to the Common Agenda. Under this new initiative, the two Governments have been cooperating to support the promotion of girls' education in developing countries, and to foster women's micro-enterprises in developing countries. Under the Common Agenda, various researches have been carried out in order to seek solutions to population growth and HIV-AIDS, and there has also been a steady exchange of personnel. As for coral reefs, an International Workshop on Coral Reefs was held in May. Also, at the Fifth Deputy Level Plenary Meeting on the Common Agenda under the Japan-U.S. Framework Talks in May, a report was compiled on the progress made under each initiative, and as a new experiment, a special meeting on natural disaster reduction was held. Furthermore, an open session was held on an experimental basis which involved participants from the private-sector. The achievements were reported to both leaders at the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in June. Other noteworthy achievements include the holding of a Japan-U.S. joint demonstration under the Global Observation Information Network (GOIN) Initiative, the dispatch of a mission to developing countries concerning counter-narcotics measures, and activities to promote the Manufacturing Technology Fellowship Program. While the framework under the Common Agenda is expanded and deepened, the understanding and support of the peoples of both Japan and the United States are expected to increase. It is also important that the participation of third countries, international organizations and NGOs be secured.

Recognizing the importance of promoting greater exchange and mutual understanding between the young people of the two countries who will carry the world into the 21st century, the Japanese Government, with the support of the U.S. Government, initiated a comprehensive framework for promoting a better understanding about Japan among American high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, researchers, artists and other young people. The purpose was to provide opportunities for more young Americans to study and to learn about Japan. Furthermore, in the United States, the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program was initiated with the goal of cultivating in-depth knowledge of Japanese politics, economics and culture among U.S. Government officials by offering training in Japan. Those scheduled to visit Japan in FY1996 began studying the Japanese language in the fall of 1995.

Toward the 21st Century

In 1995, Japan and the United States reflected on the history of Japan-U.S. relations in the 50 years since the end of World War II, and took a new first step towards the 21st century. The Cold War has ended and there are changes that are apparent in the structure of the international community. However, Japan-U.S. relations will continue to be the axis of Japan's foreign policy. Although Japan and the United States engaged in war in the past, the two countries have built a sound bilateral relationship founded on mutual trust between the two peoples and in which the two countries share the basic values of freedom, democracy and the principles of the market economy. A sound relationship between the two countries has become essential for the peace and prosperity, not only of Japan and the United States, but of the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community.

It is inevitable that the United States and Japan will continue to face various problems in the future, precisely because of the closeness of the bilateral relationship. Individual links between the peoples of the two countries and person-to-person relationships will be the strongest force for overcoming all difficulties and maintaining the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries. For that reason, it is essential that each and every citizen of Japan and the United States feel a personal responsibility to uphold the Japan-U.S. relationship and enhance mutual understanding as partners working towards the prosperity of the world.

President Clinton is scheduled to make a State Visit to Japan in April 1996. Japan and the United States view the President's visit as an important opportunity to reconfirm the significance of the Japan-U.S. relationship in this new era, and to give a comprehensive overview of the broad cooperation between the two countries.

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