Program on U.S.-Japan Relations

Photo of Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US-Japan Program Director Christina Davis posing with the mascot character for Kumamoto prefecture, Kumamon

The Program on U.S.-Japan Relations opened its fortieth anniversary celebration this year with a reception in Tokyo held on January 17, 2020. Over 100 alumni and distinguished guests attended the event, including program founder and former President of the International Court of Justice Hisashi Owada and the current Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (HKS ’83).

The reception also marked the program’s leadership transition. Christina Davis, professor of government and Susan S. and Kenneth Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is the new director. Susan Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics, concluded her tenure as director for over three decades of distinguished service, and now serves as senior advisor. Ezra Vogel, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Emeritus, continues in his role as honorary director. 
In early spring, we welcomed Japanese Ambassador to the US, Shinsuke Sugiyama, who spoke on US-Japan security arrangements, and Professor Roger Goodman from the University of Oxford as the 2019–2020 Distinguished Visitor. During his stay, Professor Goodman presented a public seminar on demographic pressures' impact on Japan's family-run universities, and a dinner address on social science approaches to understanding Japan's youth population.

After the coronavirus outbreak, we continued our weekly seminar series via Zoom—and successfully transitioned to the digital world. On April 14, we cosponsored a seminar on “National Responses to the Coronavirus in East Asia and Italy” with the Takemi Program in International Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Over sixty people joined the April 21 webinar led by Professor Takatoshi Ito from Columbia University on “Economic Consequences of the COVID-19 for Japan and the World.” Despite a smooth transition online, we miss interacting with our program’s community in person, and look forward to the day we can see everyone again. 


Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (left) and Program Director Christina Davis (right) pose with the mascot character for Kumamoto prefecture, Kumamon. Credit: Shinobu Ikazaki