The Program on U.S.-Japan Relations was founded in 1980 in response to Japan's rise as a leading global power. It seeks to advance knowledge of US-Japan relations; contemporary Japanese politics, economy, society, and culture in comparative perspective; common problems of developed democracies; the globalization of Japan's popular culture; the rise of civil society in Asia; the international relations of Asia; and global governance of issues such as energy, environment, and public health. The program enables outstanding scholars and professionals from Japan, the United States, and other countries to conduct research within these areas of inquiry.
The program sponsors a weekly seminar series, an annual Distinguished Visitor program, conferences and symposia, study groups, and other events. Through a competitive application process every academic year, the program selects approximately sixteen postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and professional associates. Enjoying the status of University Officers while at Harvard, they take part in the program's research activities, prepare a major research paper, and publicly present the results of their research. Their work is published as part of the program's Occasional Paper Series.
The program advances the educational mission of the University in a variety of ways, including fostering “research pairs” between the program's associates and Harvard graduate students, and working with the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies to provide internship opportunities for Harvard College students in Japan.
The director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations is Susan J. Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics. Shinju Fujihira is the executive director, Kendal Kelly is the program coordinator, Nina Coomes is the research assistant, and Jenni Ting is the staff assistant. The program offices are located at 61 Kirkland Street.