More information about Japan is available on the Japan Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1858. During World War II, diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan were severed when both nations declared war on each other in the wake of Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After years of fighting in the Pacific region, which included the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan signed an instrument of surrender in 1945. Normal diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1952, when the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, which had overseen the postwar Allied occupation of Japan since 1945, disbanded.
Japan has become one of Asia's most successful democracies and largest economies. The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity. It is based on shared vital interests and values. These include stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community as a whole.
Japan provides bases as well as financial and material support to U.S. forward-deployed forces, which are essential for maintaining stability in the region. Over the past decade the alliance has been strengthened through revised defense guidelines, which expand Japan's noncombatant role in a regional contingency, the renewal of the agreement on host nation support of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and an ongoing process called the Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI). The DPRI redefines roles, missions, and capabilities of alliance forces and outlines key realignment and transformation initiatives, including reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in Okinawa, enhancing interoperability and communication between the two countries' respective commands, and broadening cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defense.
Because of the two countries' combined economic and technological impact on the world, the U.S.-Japan relationship has become global in scope. The United States and Japan cooperate on a broad range of global issues, including development assistance, combating communicable disease such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and avian influenza, and protecting the environment and natural resources. The countries also collaborate in science and technology in such areas as mapping the human genome, research on aging, and international space exploration.
Japan contributes irreplaceable political, financial, and moral support to U.S.-Japan diplomatic efforts. The United States consults closely with Japan and the Republic of Korea on policy regarding North Korea. The United States works closely with Japan and Australia under the auspices of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum to exchange views and increase coordination on global and regional initiatives. In Southeast Asia, U.S.-Japan cooperation is vital for stability and for political and economic reform. Outside Asia, Japanese political and financial support has substantially strengthened the U.S. position on a variety of global geopolitical problems, including the Persian Gulf, Middle East peace efforts, and the Balkans. Japan is an indispensable partner in the United Nations and the second-largest contributor to the UN budget. Japan broadly supports the United States on nonproliferation and nuclear issues.
U.S. Assistance to Japan
The United States provides no development assistance to Japan.
Bilateral Economic Relations
U.S. economic policy toward Japan is aimed at increasing access to Japan's markets and two-way investment, stimulating domestic demand-led economic growth, promoting economic restructuring, improving the climate for U.S. investors, and raising the standard of living in both the United States and Japan. The U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship--based on enormous flows of trade, investment, and finance--is strong, mature, and increasingly interdependent. It also is firmly rooted in the shared interest and responsibility of the United States and Japan to promote global growth, open markets, and a vital world trading system.
Japan is a major market for many U.S. products, including agricultural products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, films and music, commercial aircraft, nonferrous metals, plastics, medical and scientific supplies, and machinery. U.S. imports from Japan include vehicles, machinery, optic and medical instruments, and organic chemicals. U.S. direct investment in Japan is mostly in the finance/insurance, manufacturing, nonbank holding companies, and wholesale sectors. Japanese direct investment in the U.S. is mostly in the wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors.
The United States and Japan cooperate in a number of international economic forums. In 2011, Japan announced its intention to begin consultations with Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, including the United States, about joining negotiations that seek to develop a regional trade agreement.
Japan's Membership in International Organizations
Japan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, G-8, G-20, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, ASEAN Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Japan also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an observer to the Organization of American States.
Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-238-6700).
More information about Japan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Japan Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Japan Page
U.S. Embassy: Japan
History of U.S. Relations With Japan
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information