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.
Japan is one of the world’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. The Alliance is based on shared vital interests and values, including: the maintenance of stability in the Indo-Pacific region: the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms; support for human rights and democratic institutions; and, the expansion of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community as a whole.
2020 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The U.S.-Japan Alliance was strengthened in 2015 through the release of the revised U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines, which provide for new and expanded forms of security-oriented cooperation. 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. In January 2016 the United States and Japan signed a new five-year package of host nation support for U.S. forces in Japan. In December 2016, the United States returned a major portion of the Northern Training Area, nearly 10,000 acres, reducing the amount of land utilized by the United States on Okinawa by close to 20 percent.
Because of the two countries’ combined economic and diplomatic 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, global health, environmental and resource protection, and women’s empowerment. The countries also work together to promote integrity in Information and Communications Technology supply chains and to ensure a secure transition to 5G networks. We collaborate broadly in science and technology in such areas as brain science, aging, infectious disease, personalized medicine, and international space exploration. We are working intensively to expand already strong people-to-people ties in education, science, and other areas.
Japan and the United States collaborate closely on international diplomatic initiatives. The United States consults with Japan and the Republic of Korea on policy regarding North Korea. The United States coordinates with Japan and Australia under the auspices of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum. The United States and Japan coordinate with India trilaterally and in the U.S.-Australia-India-Japan Consultations. In Southeast Asia, U.S.-Japan cooperation advances maritime security and economic development. Outside Asia, Japanese political and financial support has significantly assisted U.S. efforts on a variety of global issues arising, including countering ISIL and terrorism, working to stop the spread of the Ebola and other emerging pandemic infections, advancing environmental goals, maintaining solidarity in the face of Russian aggression in the region and beyond, assisting developing countries, countering piracy, and standing up for human rights and democracy. 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. Japan and the United States are also making progress toward our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region through partnerships such as the Japan-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP), Japan-U.S. Strategic Digital Economy Partnership (JUSDEP), and the Japan-U.S. Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP).
The United States established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1858. During World War II, diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan were severed in the context of the war that followed Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After years of fighting in the Pacific region, 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. The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States was signed in 1960.
U.S. Assistance to Japan
The United States provides no development assistance to Japan.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship is one of our strongest and deepest economic partnerships in the world and features substantial trade and investment flows. In October 2019, the United States and Japan signed the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement, which is scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2020. The U.S.-Japan Trade agreement eliminates or reduces tariffs on approximately $7.2 billion in U.S. agricultural exports and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement includes high-standard provisions that ensure data can be transferred across borders without restrictions, guarantee consumer privacy protections, promote adherence to common principles for addressing cyber security challenges, support effective use of encryption technologies, and boost digital trade. The United States and Japan intend to conclude consultations within 4 months after the date of entry into force of the agreements and enter into negotiations thereafter in the areas of customs duties and other restrictions on trade, barriers to trade in services and investment, and other issues in order to promote mutually beneficial, fair, and reciprocal trade. The United States’ goods trade deficit with Japan remains the third largest in the world. Approximately 75 percent of the deficit is from autos and auto parts.,
The United States aims to expand access to Japan’s markets, increase two-way investment, stimulate domestic demand-led economic growth, promote economic restructuring, improve the climate for U.S. investors, and raise the standard of living in both countries. Japan represents a major market for many U.S. goods and services, including agricultural products, chemicals, insurance, 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, and wholesale sectors. Japanese direct investment in the United States is mostly in the wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors. Japan has invested over USD $480 billion in the U.S. economy and Japanese owned firms support 860,000 jobs in the United States.
Science and Technology Cooperation
The U.S.-Japan partnership in the areas of science and technology covers a broad array of complex issues facing our two countries and the global community. Under the auspices of the U.S.-Japan Science and Technology Agreement, our two countries have collaborated for over 25 years on scientific research in areas such as new energy technologies, supercomputing, and critical materials. In recognition of these achievements, the United States and Japan announced in 2014 an extension of our bilateral Science and Technology Agreement for an additional 10 years. The U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Dialogue on Space reflects our deepening cooperation in space. On January 11, 2016, both countries celebrated the 50thanniversary of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Sciences Program, which has grown over time to encompass attention to health threats affecting other Pacific Rim nations, particularly in Southeast Asia.
The strength of the U.S.-Japan relationship is due in part to the substantial reservoir of goodwill created by the close grassroots ties between the U.S. and Japanese people, often supported by the U.S. and Japanese governments. There are more than 30,000 American alumni of the Japanese government-sponsored Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, including nearly 200 JET program alumni working at the Department of State. The Fulbright program in Japan has sent nearly 7,500 young Japanese on Fulbright scholarships to the United States since 1952. There are as well 37 U.S.-based Japan-America chapters, many of which are sustained by the close business ties between the United States and Japan; more than 800,000 Americans are employed by Japanese firms in the United States. The U.S. and Japan also share more sister city relationships with each other than with any other country. Many other non-governmental organizations, such as the U.S.-Japan Council, Mansfield Foundation, and Sasakawa Peace Foundation, utilize public-private partnerships as well as U.S.-government grants to support people-to-people exchange.
The United States-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON), a binational blue-ribbon panel of academic, cultural, and government experts, was founded between President Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda in 1961 to make policy recommendations on how to continue to improve people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Japan. Since its inception, the organization has formed a number of task forces to take on policy issues regarding people-to-people exchange, most recently focusing on increasing the falling number of Japanese students studying in the United States, and how both countries can better foster the next generation of leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship.
Japan’s Membership in International Organizations
Japan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, G7, 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 is also a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an observer to the Organization of American States. In 2019, Japan assumed the G-20 presidency and hosted numerous ministerial meetings as well as the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Japan.
Joseph M. Young is the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of U.S. Embassy Tokyo. Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List
More information about Japan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: