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Jan 19

The Japan That Can't Decide

Despite growing regional security threats and two decades of economic floundering, Japan appears unable to set a course of decisive foreign policy and economic reform. Tokyo’s apparent inability to make strategic decisions has strained relations with the United States and risks Japanese influence and relevancy in Asia. Predictions that the Democratic Party of Japan’s 2009 electoral victory would improve Japanese leadership were dashed by policy stumbles and the continued revolving door of prime ministers.

Join us as Kevin Maher, former Director of the Japan Desk at the Department of State, discusses how Japan’s indecisiveness hindered the initial response to the March 2011 natural and nuclear disasters and impacted Tokyo’s security relationship with Washington. He will also reflect on Tokyo’s transition to a DPJ government and his views on the challenges that Japan faces ahead.

Does Prime Minister Noda’s pressing forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S. military force realignment on Okinawa, and the F-35 fighter plane despite fierce opposition portend a new stronger Japanese leadership? Mr. Maher will assess Noda’s leadership as well as the way ahead on the Futenma Replacement Facility.

Kevin Maher had an extensive diplomatic career in Japan as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. Prior to serving as Japan Desk Officer, he was the Consul General in Okinawa and Director for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

More About the Speakers

Kevin Maher
Former Director, Office of Japanese Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and author of The Japan That Can’t Decide

Hosted By

Bruce Klingner Bruce Klingner

Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia Read More