As Director of the East West Center in Washington (EWCW) and the Asia Matters for America initiative, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the organization and initiative. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the East West Center (EWC) is a national institution that promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. The EWC serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The EWC’s Washington, D.C office conducts five programs under the theme of “preparing the United States for an era of growing Asia-Pacific prominence”: seminars on policy-relevant Asia-Pacific issues, publication of the Asia-Pacific Bulletin, a Visiting Fellows program, policy research and dialogues including one currently on the U.S.-Japan and Southeast Asia, and the signature Asia Matters for America initiative (www.AsiaMattersforAmerica.org).
The Asia Matters for America initiative, of which Japan Matters for America/America Matters for Japan (www.AsiaMattersforAmerica/Japan) is a major component, serves as an interactive resource for credible and nonpartisan information, graphics, analysis and news on U.S.-Asia-Pacific relations at the national, state and local levels. The initiative covers trade, jobs from trade, foreign direct investment, employment from foreign direct investment, tourism and travel, Asian-American populations, student and sister city exchanges as well as overall political and security ties. A unique feature of the initiative is showing the impact of U.S.-Asia connections at the state, congressional district and prefectural levels.
The Japan Matters for America publication is available in both English and Japanese. As Japan Matters for America clearly shows, Japan is a major partner for the U.S. in global terms. Together the two countries account for about 20% of global trade and each is among the other’s top 5 export destinations. Both the U.S and Japan have a huge stock of foreign direct investment in each other, and close to 700,000 U.S jobs depend on Japanese investment, trade and quality of life.
And Japan is important across the U.S., not just a handful of states. For example, Japan is a top ten destination for about 44 of 50 U.S. states. Similarly, the U.S. is a top ten export destination for most Japanese prefectures. The breadth and cross national interactions and the strong, mutual goodwill that results partly explains the huge amount of funds raised across the U.S. for humanitarian and disaster relief after the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan three years ago. There is also a significant “Midwest Connection” between the U.S. and Japan with several states actively engaged in business, civil society, education and people-to-people links. Indiana alone has about 220 Japanese companies and affiliate operating in the state. In fact, we would like to use te Japan Matters for America initiative to further highlight the ongoing ties between the U.S. and Japan in the Midwest and invite companies, educational institutions, and others to help us “tell their story” about U.S.-Japan relations. We sincerely hope that companies, industries, educational institutions and civic society organizations will contact us so that we can write articles and posts on their work to enhance the U.S.-Japan relationship to mutual benefit.
Satu Limaye is Director of the East-West Center in Washington.
This article was first published by the JETRO Chicago.