The U.S.-Japan Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective

April 1999

1. Overview

Japan and the United States launched the Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective (the Common Agenda) in July 1993 with the aim of jointly seeking solutions to global problems, such as increasingly pressing environmental degradation, overpopulation, and damage from both natural and man-made disasters.

The Common Agenda rests on four "pillars": promoting health and human development; responding to challenges to global stability; protecting the global environment; and advancing science and technology. These four pillars encompass initiatives in 18 specific areas. (See attached list)

These activities come under review once a year at a plenary meeting at the vice-ministerial level. This year, the ninth such meeting was held on April 8 in Washington and was cochaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Koichi Haraguchi of Japan and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Frank Loy of the U.S. Department of State.

Based on the recognition of the need to respond flexibly to the most pressing challenges of the day, Japan and the United States decided to work cooperatively to address those economic and social issues that have arisen from the economic crisis in Asia, including measures to ensure "human security" and alleviate the plight of the socially vulnerable.

The growing role to be played by nongovernmental organizations was reconfirmed, and strengthened coordination with NGOs in the carrying out of Common Agenda activities was discussed.

2. Major Accomplishments

A. Promoting Health and Human Development

  • With respect to the Women in Development (WID) initiative, Common Agenda measures have been centered on enhancing educational opportunities for young women and fostering women's microenterprises in developing countries. A seminar on the education of young women was hosted in August 1997 in Guatemala, the conclusions of which were later incorporated in the Guatemalan government's five-year educational enhancement plan. And in March 1999, a Common Agenda seminar, "Women in Development," was held in Tokyo on the theme of supporting women in developing countries with the participation not only of Japanese and U.S. government officials but also NGO representations from Japan, the United States, and Thailand.
  • As for population and health issues, a long-term Japanese-U.S. project has succeeded in virtually eradicating polio in the Western Pacific. The focus has thus now shifted to Southeast Asia and Africa with the goal being worldwide eradication.
  • The first joint Japan-U.S. Project Formulation Mission (PFM) was dispatched to Zambia in December 1998 to explore the feasibility of joint projects to address population, HIV/AIDS, and juvenile health problems in the African country.
  • International conferences of Asia-Pacific experts have been organized to report on the latest research developments to counter emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases like malaria, dengue, tuberculosis, and influenza. The fourth such meeting was held in March 1999 in Bangkok.

B. Responding to Challenges to Global Stability

  • In order to combat international trafficking in narcotic drugs, a joint crop- substitution program was undertaken in Peru to reduce farmers' economic dependence on crops used in narcotics production. Japan provided farming equipment and training materials to a local NGO for this purpose. The seedlings grown by the NGO were purchased by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which resold them to area farmers at a low price and also dispatched cultivation experts.
  • In dealing with natural disasters like earthquakes and man-made disasters like oil spills, the United States and Japan are working together to mitigate the damage caused. Cooperation is being promoted through such forums as the Pan-Pacific Natural Disaster Watch Network, Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Partnership, and Earthquake Policy Symposium. The first oil-spill working group meeting was held in October 1998, and lists of potential future projects drawn up by the two governments are currently under discussion.

C. Protecting the Global Environment

  • Both Japan and the United States are actively pursuing solutions to global-scale problems pertaining to climate change, biodiversity, toxic wastes, and the destruction of the ozone layer. Specific responses have been debated through environmental policy dialogue. In the field of conservation policy, projects include those to protect wetlands and wetland birds, forests, oceans, and coral reefs. Together with other international partners, the two governments are seeking world support for the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to preserve the valuable marine resources and are helping establish the International Coral Reef Center in Palau.
  • The Global Observation Information Network (GOIN), a Common Agenda project to monitor, predict, and issue warnings regarding climate change and disasters, will henceforth be succeeded by the multilateral Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). At the ninth Common Agenda plenary meeting in Washington, Japan and the United States decided to launch cooperative efforts in ocean drilling.

D. Advancing Science and Technology

  • Japan and the United States are proceeding with joint research under the Civil Industrial Technology Initiative while seeking the participation of the private sector. Techno Growth House in the city of Tsukuba was established in 1995 to provide a base of operations for visiting researchers from the United States.
  • A multifaceted program of cooperation is being implemented in the field of transport technologies through meetings of transportation experts, leading to the development of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), earthquake-resistant railroads, and transport measures for elderly and handicapped people.
  • The aim of the Initiative on Educational Technology for the Twenty-first Century is to harness the potential of advanced technology for use in education. Four expert group meetings are being held; at one such conference held in July 1998, participants gathered in person and via video to discuss ways education technology may be applied in schools to assist the education of handicapped children.

3. Cooperation with the Private Sector

The Common Agenda Round Table, chaired by honorary Keidanren Chairman Gaishi Hiraiwa, was launched in February 1996 to explore global issues through regular meetings and to offer recommendations and guidance to the governments of both Japan and the United States.

It will work with the Common Agenda Public-Private Partnership (P-3) that was founded in the United States with the participation of major NGOs to develop strategies to enhance further cooperation within the private sector on addressing key global problems.

The U.S.-Japan Common Agenda

The Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective

Promoting Health and Human Development
  • Women in Development
  • Population and health
  • Global food supply
  • Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
Responding to Challenges to Global Stability
  • Counter-narcotics
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Natural and man-made disaster reduction
  • Civil society and democratization
Protecting the Global Environment
  • Conservation
  • Development assistance for the environment
  • Global change research
  • Global Change Research and Prediction
  • Environmental and energy-efficient technologies
  • Environmental education
Advancing Science and Technology
  • Civil industrial technology
  • Transportation
  • Educational technology for the 21st century

Notes: The ninth Common Agenda plenary meeting produced an understanding for the bilateral Global Observation Information Network (GOIN) project to be continued within the multilateral framework of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). New projects added to the Common Agenda program include the establishment of a new initiative on ocean drilling, cooperation in emergency medical response, and the ARGO oceanographic survey.

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