Sixth Business Advisory Board Discusses the Implications of the Presidential Race on U.S.-Japan Relations

May 17, 2016 at 6pm - 9pm
Tokyo American Club


The Sixth Business Advisory Board (BAB) was held at the Tokyo American Club on May 17, welcoming Dr. Gerald Curtis, Burgess Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Columbia University and member of the USJC Board of Councilors, as the featured speaker.


The discussion was led by Paul Yonamine (at podium), Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors

Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Masaaki Tanaka, who leads BAB, welcomed the audience. Alumni of TOMODACHI programs were also in attendance, representing the next generation of leaders in U.S.-Japan relations. USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye invited the audience to the next BAB meeting, which will take place on July 26, as well as the 2016 Annual Conference. She also took a moment to remember the lives lost during the Kumamoto Earthquake, sharing that the TOMODACHI Initiative sent five alumni who had been affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake to volunteer in the region, and expressing her wishes to continue to support the relief efforts.

Irene Hirano Inouye (far right) with the TOMODACHI alumni

Dr. Curtis discussed the deep fissures in American society that were revealed by this year's U.S. presidential race, and said that they are unlikely to fade after the November election. He described the strong anti-establishment sentiments felt by many Americans, which have resulted in the Donald Trump movement from the right and the Bernie Sanders movement from the left. Dr. Curtis said that although there is a multitude of reasons behind this frustration, most prominent is the inequality of opportunity between affluent Americans and others, as well as unpopular legal and illegal immigration.

Dr. Curtis also expressed concern about the increasing likelihood that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would not be passed in the "lame duck" Congressional session, and the implications this has for America's relationship with Japan and the global community. He stressed the need for Japanese and American leaders to understand that although their foreign policy may not always be aligned, the bilateral friendship and alliance between the two countries serves the interests of both—regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

Dr. Curtis addressing the crowd

His talk also touched upon the power balance in Asia, within the larger context of today's multipolar geopolitics. He expressed his hope that the next President would be aware that, as America's role in international relations becomes less dominant and more compromised, so too should their approach to foreign policy.

We look forward to following up on this topic at this year's Annual Conference, which will take place in Silicon Valley from November 14 to 15--just one week after the election!

Click here to see more photos from the sixth BAB.