USJC President & CEO Suzanne Basalla on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! 

As we review the readouts from the ongoing Leaders Summit on Climate, we can already take great inspiration, ambition and motivation from last week’s summit between President Biden and Prime Minister Suga. Their vision provides exciting new opportunities for the Council and our members.

The set of key documents from the Summit, including the Joint Leaders’ Statement: “U.S.-Japan Global Partnership for a New Era,” the launch of the U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership, and the U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership on Ambition, Decarbonization, and Clean Energy provide a concrete roadmap for our two nations. The close alignment between our common security objectives, and shared values as strong democracies, is clear. Our leaders seek revitalization of the partnership through practical commitments to fulfill the relationship’s potential in four key areas: innovation, dealing with the pandemic, combating the climate crisis, and enhancing people-to-people ties.  Importantly, the leaders also discussed the increase of discrimination and violence against Asian people across the United States, and agreed that discrimination by race cannot be permitted in any society.

The U.S.-Japan Council’s mission is to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations through people-to-people ties, and it is heartening to see the continued emphasis on “the next generation of leaders who will continue to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Japan.” The emphasis on international exchanges and educational exchanges, especially among those who are historically underrepresented in education abroad, resonates with much of USJC’s work, especially with our TOMODACHI programs and Watanabe Scholars

Personally, I am very excited by both the CoRe and Climate Partnerships for their aspirational vision as well as concrete focus; the innovation and climate pillars have particular relevance to the Council. The ambitious bilateral agenda requires not just whole-of-government efforts, but also whole-of-society, and this is where USJC’s strength as a network of cross-sector, multi-generation, and diverse leaders will continue to be of service.  Our Silicon Valley Japan Platform, in partnership with the Asia Pacific Institute, will continue to collaborate in many of the key innovation fields identified in the leaders’ statements.  Further, combating the climate crisis, including achieving decisive climate action by 2030, is the most important issue being grappled with by so many of our stakeholders in government, business, research, education, and nonprofit sectors.  I was vividly reminded of this last week when I had the opportunity to visit with many of our Hawaii members, and we discussed Hawaii’s urgent focus on renewable energy, their commitment to the Aloha+ Challenge to address key SDG’s, and the subnational collaboration opportunities with Japan as fellow island economies.

I look forward to hearing more about the commitments that come from the ongoing Leaders Summit on Climate, working with you all to bring the best of people-to-people connections to contribute to decisive climate action, and to support U.S.-Japan competitiveness and resilience.


This is a series in which USJC President & CEO Suzanne Basalla shares her thoughts directly with the USJC community.