Dec 14

Report: “Reinvigorating US-Japan Policy Dialogue and Study” and implications for JET

There’s a very JET-relevant report just published by the Japan Center for International Exchange titled Reinvigorating US-Japan Dialogue and Study.” (Notably, JET alum Jim Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94), Executive Director for the US office of JCIE, was involved in the drafting of the report.)

Though the report only mentions the JET Program once (on page 33 of the report), it’s clear that the still largely untapped resource that is the JET alumni community of over 50,000 worldwide (25,000+ in the US) has the potential and the ability to play a significant role in US-Japan relations going forward given the decline in energy and resources devoted to US-Japan policy dialogue and study cited in the report.

The gist of the report is that “the institutional base of US-Japan policy dialogue and study has started to erode in recent years.”  However, the report also “finds fertile ground to deepen bilateral dialogue and better leverage the extensive human networks that have developed between the two societies.”

The main obstacles to reversing this trend appear to be:

  1. a shrinking institutional base for US-Japan relations and failure to fully take advantage of available resources (e.g., the JET alum community);
  2. reduced funds available in Japan to support these activities (due in a large part to a down economy); and
  3. to some extent, increased interest in and focus on China

As JET alums, the above trends may be beyond our control.  But we are a big part of that extensive human network that needs to be leveraged.  And regardless of the obstacles, the ball is in our court to be part of the solution.  Tough times call for innovative solutions.


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