Promoting Japan-U.S. Relations: An Opinion Leader’s Dialogue

Michael Frazier, PhD, M.C.P.
Howard University
Washington, DC
January 25, 2013


Ryozo Kato, Board Member, Mitsubishi Corporation & Commissioner Nippon Professional Baseball, former Ambassador from Japan to United States, and Dr. Michael Frazier, Howard University

As a participant in the 2012 Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s “Promoting Japan-U.S. Relations: An Opinion Leaders’ Dialogue,” I met with colleagues from Japan’s intellectual community from November 24 -30, 2012. The participants in these meetings included representatives from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation , the Tokyo Foundation, seven professors, and senior bureaucrats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). I also lectured and responded to student questions at three leading universities on the subject, “African Americans and the American Political System: From Slave Ships to the white House.”
All of the meetings were stimulating and focused on issues associated with Japan’s national security dilemmas and future prospects. For instance, officials from the Tokyo Foundation requested feedback regarding, A Policy Research Brief and Policy Proposal: Japan’s Security Strategy Toward China. Integrating, balancing, and Deterrence in the era of Power Shift.” A reoccurring caveat in these documents was the omission of a discourse about international development assistance programs funded by philanthropic and government agencies. These agencies should be considered as important actors in the overall national security strategy towards China and important in promoting security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. In short, these two entities should be considered as an important instrument of Japan’s national power, and have already impacted the region and many developing countries.
Meetings with Ambassador Ryozo Kato and Professor Naoyuki at Shonan-Fujisawa campus of Keio University are memorable due to the issues considered. Ambassador Kato for instance informed me how Japan promotes “inclusive development” in its international assistance programs. This approach promotes greater understanding and participation in developmental processes and programs among the recipients of Japan’s developmental assistance.


Dr. Frazier at the Center for Pacific and American Studies, University of Tokyo

The role of its implementing agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is to help facilitate this process. The mainstream Western Consensus focuses on the work of the World Bank, IMF, USAID, and other international development banks. In contrast, the “Beijing Consensus” promotes a brand of authoritarian capitalism which is the opposite of U.S.-led liberal economic orthodoxy of good governance and sensitivity to human rights issues. The “Inclusive Development” paradigm could offer a useful tool to help promote international development directed toward poor countries. Lessons learned from the experiences of Japanese assistance projects in the promotion of international development should be published in English and other languages. I was particularly pleased to know that Ambassador Kato was a colleague of former Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Takakazu Kuriyama who arranged my initial 1996 visit to Japan and is considered a friend to the American people.
As a senior professor from the United States I always welcome the opportunity to interact with university students from other lands. In this regard, I lectured at Akita International University, Aoyama Gakuin University, and the Center for Pacific and American Studies (CPAS) at the University of Tokyo. All of the students from the different universities were fully engaged in the presentations. Most of the students have little information about the long and difficult road African Americans traveled from slave ships to the White House. My presentations included a brief chronology about slavery, the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) where 600,000 American lost their lives, racial discrimination, Supreme Court decisions, the passing of multiple civil rights laws and their enforcement. I reviewed the rise of African American leadership in cities, states and Congress, and finally the White House, highlighting the progress made since approximately 389 years after the first African slave arrived in what is known as the USA. The main point made was that an African American, Barack Obama’s re-election as President of the United States, is a symbol of the potential of the American political system. The students had many questions about the African American experience in the American political system. Hopefully, my presentations helped these students gain a better understanding of the African American experience.


My visit to Japan was further enhanced in meeting with senior leaders from the National Defense Academy of Japan. These meetings involved a wide range of Japanese security topics and relations with the United State, China, and the future of the Security Defense Force (SDF) which technically is not a military but has all the attributes of a military force. In that regard, upon my return to the USA I reviewed a video entitled, “Japan’s About-Face,” which is a story addressing the issue of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The video discusses the views of Americans, who wrote the Japanese Constitution that now want the Japanese to turn “About Face” and be more active with its forces to contribute to regional and international peace and stability, particularly since Japan’s economy is one of the most powerful in the world, ranking the third largest economy in the world. They are especially concerned about Japan accepting increased responsibility for the defense of its own islands and the waters surrounding them.


Lieutenant General (ret.) Noboru Yamaguchi (Professor and Director of the Center for National Security and Crisis Management, National Defense Academy of Japan)

Lieutenant General (ret.) Noboru Yamaguchi (Professor and Director of the Center for National Security and Crisis Management, National Defense Academy of Japan)

My conversation with Professor Naoyuki Agawa, Vice President, Keio University’s Mita campus, ended the official meeting of my trip. I was pleased to learn that one of his judicial heroes was the late Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshal who was a graduate of the Howard University Law School, the university where I teach political science courses. After returning to the U.S., I forwarded to him the last interview with Justice Marshall with journalist Carl Rowan in 1975. In our meeting we discussed a wide range of topics and he commented on the many amazing life stories he has heard from many Americans. I reminded him my life story is also amazing but it would not have been possible if the U.S. had not finally move away from exclusion to inclusionary public policies. Inclusive development assistance programs as well as African American’s Civil Rights laws and of the 1960s policies the context for both entities to participate in decisions that affect and impact their communities. Inclusive development means planning for for people is the best way for developing countries as well as the United States to improve the lives of disadvantaged groups. Inclusive development in Japan’s development assistance programs allows poor countries to participate and build capacity to improve their communities. President Barrack Obama’s rise to become the leader of the free world is a by-product of inclusive developments in diverse public policy areas in the United States.

Our meeting concluded admirably and both agreed to meet again in the future.
Needless to say, as with other countries in this globalized world, Japan’s prosperity and security rely on all kinds of imports and foreign markets. Cooperation with allied international organizations and other countries are thus a prerequisite for Japan’s security.As my meetings in Tokyo has confirmed, “inclusive development” in the developing world is one way for Japan to achieve these ends while at the same time fostering regional security.
In a speech on January 19, 1995,Japan Ambassador Takakazu Kuriyama commented, “Today we live in a world in which nations interact with each other more extensively than ever. As a result we are exposed, to an unprecedented degree, to the diversity of the world – to different cultures and values of other nations. And yet the lack of international understanding, which yields stereotypes and prejudices, constrains our ability to benefit from such exposure… but exposure to diversity can be a two-way street through which both sides can benefit from each other”. Hopefully, my interactions with members of Japan’s university students and its intellectual community have contributed to realization of the advice of Ambassador Kuriyama.

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