U.S. elections, TPP, U.S.-Japan alliance management take forefront at Third Annual Security Forum

By Zachary Shaykin
May 13, 2016

Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)

More than five hundred registrants joined Sasakawa USA at the Willard Hotel in Washington for the Third Annual Security Forum. The Forum featured American and Japanese security, foreign policy and economic experts from both countries and included seven panel discussion on such topics as U.S.-Japan defense policy, regional security threats, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. elections, and the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

The series of high-level security panels opened with remarks from Sasakawa CEO and Chairman Admiral Dennis Blair, followed by reflections from Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae on the U.S.-Japan relationship during his tenure from 2012-2016.

Japanese Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen began the first round of morning panels discussing U.S.-Japan relations and Japan’s national interests. Minister Ishiba remarked (his statement is available online in Japanese with an unofficial translation in English) that the U.S.-Japan security treaty should be revised for a more symmetrical alliance in the future, referring to a proposed new system of maintaining a U.S. military presence in Japan in which bases are “rented” to U.S. forces stationed there.

In the following panel, former Japanese Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto elaborated on those sentiments and on Japan’s recent security legislation reflecting a changed constitutional interpretation that allows Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense. He noted the importance of alliance managers in Japan in offsetting the asymmetry of the U.S. Japan alliance. Both Morimoto and Ishiba expressed concerns about the upcoming election in the United States, and Ishiba said that an “America First” policy offered by the likely Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would not add to the U.S. interest.

Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)Another panel led by Adm. Blair included a demonstration of the newly launched Maritime Awareness Project (MAP) website, created by Sasakawa USA in partnership with the National Bureau of Asian Research. The interactive web portal displays security, resource, territorial claim, and other data on the East and South China Seas, and eventually will expand to include other important maritime regions. Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott Swift (whose full comments are available here) noted the importance of the Seventh Fleet in protecting U.S. interests amidst a sensitive territorial situation in the Pacific, reaffirming a U.S. presence in the region as “a strong force in the rebalance to Asia.”

The final set of panels featured discussions on the future of the TPP, recommendations for the U.S.-Japan Alliance through 2030, burgeoning cybersecurity threats, and the impact of the U.S. elections on the U.S.-Japan alliance. Mireya SolÍs, Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies at The Brookings Institution, moderated a discussion with House of Councilors Member Keizo Takemi and Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly on prospects for TPP and the implications for U.S.-Japan Relations. Given that all remaining prospective U.S. presidential candidates oppose the trade agreement, Dr. SolÍs asked, “How do we overcome the ‘politics of grievance’ that has become so prevalent?”

Sasakawa USA Senior Fellow and Director of Programs Daniel Bob followed with a panel focusing in on the Sasakawa-CSIS joint U.S.-Japan Alliance Commission report, which features recommendations on deepening, broadening, and sustaining the alliance through 2030.

Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)The final panel of the day addressed concerns over the U.S. elections, with Mike Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS, asserting that “the campaign is already having an impact on our foreign policy.” While Dr. Green also noted that the U.S.-Japan alliance currently has a higher public approval rating among Americans than in previous years, he worried that the two leading candidates’ “incoherent strategies” concerning TPP and security will create a “really rough patch” for the alliance.

Between panels, guests mingling outside the main ballroom were able to peruse Sasakawa USA’s prominent U.S.-Japan security reports, including the full report on Japan-Russia Relations released the same day as the most recent summit between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin, and the joint Sasakawa-CSIS U.S.-Japan Commission on the Future of the Alliance (which you can read in English or in Japanese here).

For the full list of speakers and panels, visit the Sasakawa USA Security Forum event page. View media coverage of the event here. For media inquiries, please contact Communications Manager Christa Desrets at .



This event was livestreamed in both English and with simultaneous interpretation into Japanese. View both versions below. Each playlist is divided into two videos: Part 1 for morning sessions and Part 2 for afternoon sessions.

English audio playlist:

Japanese audio playlist (日本語で聞く):



Participants in the Security Forum conference as well as invitees who could not attend had the option of making materials and comments available to the public. Find those materials here:

Kenji Wakamiya: Message from the State Minister of Defense for Japan (Bilingual │ 2カ国語)
• Shigeru Ishiba: Speech transcript (日本語) (Unofficial English Translation)
The U.S.-Japan Alliance to 2030: Power and Principle: (Full report: English) (Executive summary: English) (日本語)
Suzanne Spaulding: PowerPoint slide: Information on The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity program (English)
Yasuhiko Taniwaki: PowerPoint presentation: Cybersecurity Strategy in Japan (English)
• Adm. Scott Swift: Speech transcript (English)


Photos by Joy Asico

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