Campus scholars, students join politicos to debate issues of U.S.-Japanese interest

06 September 2001 | Berkeley scholars will join world leaders in this week’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Japan peace treaty, with a look at longstanding relations between the two nations and their future.

Sponsored by the U.S./Japan 21st Century Project — a collaborative effort of the campus, Japan Society of Northern California, and Yomiuri Shimbum, Japan’s largest newspaper — “The United States and Japan: An Enduring Partnership in a Changing World” will be held Sept. 6-8 at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel and War Memorial Opera House.

In a Sept. 8, 1951 ceremony at the opera house, then-president Harry Truman and Japanese leaders signed the peace treaty that formally ended World War II and established the basis of modern U.S./Japan relations. A commemoration of that signing wraps up the conference.

The three days of policy seminars and celebrations is expected to draw dignitaries from 48 nations around the world, including several past U.S. secretaries of state, current U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Japanese and U.S. scholars.

Participants will examine a broad spectrum of U.S.-Japan policy issues, past and future.

Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism and a co-chair of the conference, said the U.S./Japanese relationship “is probably the most durable and important bilateral relationship that the U.S. has. It really sets the framework for much of what happens in the Pacific region.”

Michael Nacht, dean of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy and a conference speaker, said the 50th anniversary of the peace treaty signing provides an opportune time to look at the relationship, along with important economic and security issues.

“Japan is in a deep recession. It’s a very bad bit of news for the global economy if the United States and Japan and Europe….are all at negligible growth at the same time,” Nacht said. “That’s very bad news. So the question is what can the United States do, if anything, to facilitate the revival of the Japanese economy, and what can the Japanese do to help us.”

On the security side, Nacht said, is the question of whether Japan should continue to be restricted in regards to its military force. Since World War II, Japan has had limited military capabilities. Now with threats from neighboring nations, particularly North Korea and China, there are calls to allow Japan to be prepared to defend itself, Nacht said.

Supporters of such a measure include the Bush administration, according to Nacht, which is deciding how Japan could be involved in its proposed missile defense plan.

Berkeley Political Science Professor Steven Vogel led a team of nine scholars in the field of U.S.-Japan relations to look at some of these same issues over the last two years. Vogel’s research group looked at international security, economic performance, foreign policy doctrine, U.S. and Japanese domestic politics, international organizations, the media, finance and technology. The research findings are the cornerstone for the conference.

In addition to Schell, Nacht and Vogel, scheduled Berkeley speakers or presenters at the conference include Stephen Cohen, chair of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy; Keith Nitta, a graduate student; T.J. Pempel, director of the Institute of East Asian Studies; and John Zysman, professor of political science in the College of Letters and Science.


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