Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Emergence of a Changing Japan
Leach Schedules Wednesday Hearing

BACKGROUND: A new Japan appears to be emerging – one seemingly more nationalistic, more willing to assert its national interests and less reluctant to engage global security challenges. The trauma of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, uncertainties about America’s security commitment in the post-Cold War era, a decade of economic stagnation, the North Korean missile tests and abduction of Japanese citizens, the rise of China, and the global threat of terrorism have all contributed to this new Japanese orientation. Japan’s progress toward becoming a more “normal” nation in world affairs has not thus far, however, led to a radical departure in its national security policy. For example, current interpretations of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution still prohibit the use of force except for the defense of Japan. Regional security considerations have been a major driver of Japan’s decision to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance and to move forward with plans for its own defense transformation. Today, the North Korean nuclear standoff and the rise of China have become Japan’s primary strategic challenges in the region. In recent months, Japanese diplomacy in Northeast Asia has become substantially more complicated by rising tensions with China over historical issues, territorial disputes, Taiwan, and Japan’s bid for permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, a similar set of disputes has sharply soured Japan’s relations with fellow U.S.-ally South Korea. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s term will end at the latest in September 2006, when his position as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) expires. He has entered his last 18 months of office committed to an ambitious agenda that includes such items as revising Japan’s constitution, tax reform, and privatizing aspects of its postal service. Although Japan seems to be moving slowly towards a two-party political system, the LDP-led coalition still comfortably controls parliament. Despite Japan’s long economic slump, financial, investment and trade ties with Japan remain integral to U.S. national interests. Japan remains the world’s second largest economy, the world’s largest gross and net global lender, and a leading donor of foreign aid. It accounts for more than 9% of global GDP and about 60% of East Asia’s GDP. Its economy is still four times the size of China’s, and it possesses a far more technologically advanced military-industrial infrastructure.                                                                                            

WHAT:                 Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:  Focus on a Changing Japan
                  Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific,

                  U.S. Rep. James A. Leach (R-IA), Chairman

WHEN:                 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2005

WHERE:               Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:       Thomas U. Berger, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Boston University;
                  Leonard Schoppa, Jr., Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia; and
                  Richard B. Katz,
Senior Editor, The Oriental Economist Report, Toyo Keizai America.

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