Author: Admiral Dennis Blair
We used our free time to drive ourselves around the country, driving north to the spectacular groves of sugi — Japanese cedar trees — in Nikko; west to the entrancing gardens and ancient temples in Nara and Kyoto; and to many other fascinating destinations all around the country. Each of the many times we were lost was an adventure that ended happily.
I’ve come to believe that Japan can play an important role in world politics, far beyond Northeast Asia, as it has a very credible diplomatic voice and significant means at its disposal. Japan has been, by anyone’s measure, an exemplary member of the international community and it derives a lot of legitimacy from this.
Having the opportunity to spend a week in Tokyo hearing the perspectives of a range of experts was tremendously helpful for understanding the Japanese perspective on security issues and the challenges facing Japanese society.
Although the way in which I was introduced to Japanese did not seem too deep at the time, my relationship with Japan has informed almost every aspect of how I live my life now. I’m optimistic about the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and I think Sasakawa USA is one of the vehicles that is going to help take that relationship to a new level.
Our Japanese counterparts were candid in expressing their concerns over threats from North Korea and Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea. I was struck that the concerns they expressed to us closely mirror U.S. interests for a stable and prosperous Asia.