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Walk in Chicago: Ambassador Shimanouchi Speaks about
US-Japan Alliance

• Ken Shimanouchi, Former Ambassador to Spain and Brazil, and his team spoke about the US-Japan alliance in the current situation in Asia Pacific, economic revival of Japan, and other subjects at the Union League Club of Chicago on July 14. It was part of a program titled “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan: U.S.-Japan Relations”, organized by Prime Minister Abe’s office after President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan and Asia in April that proved to be a rebalancing of U.S. policies towards Asia. The event was hosted by the Japan America Society of Chicago (JASC) in cooperation with the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago.

• JASC’s new President Ed Grant welcomed the team and encouraged the attendees to participate in discussions in a Q & A session. He also introduced the Society’s upcoming events, which promoted friendship and better understanding between the two countries.

• In his greetings, Consul General Masaharu Yoshida said, “Our two countries are becoming even closer with Prime Minister Abe’s leadership and President Obama’s rebalance to Asia as well as his trip to Japan in April. We now have the opportunity to increase or understanding by getting together to exchange views. The more we talk and listen, the more we can achieve together,” and introduced Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi.
• Shimanouchi worked for the Foreign Ministry of Japan for almost 40 years, and is familiar with the U.S. He spent his childhood in Washington D.C. and later as a member of Embassy of Japan. He served as Ambassador for Spain and Brazil, and Minister for the U.K. He was named Ambassador and Special Envoy for the United Nations Affairs last December.

• Ambassador Shimanouchi thanked Ed Grant and the members of JASC for participating in the luncheon meeting and said that it was great honor for them to be able to start their Midwest tour with such a prestigious group.
• Shimanouchi mentioned that he and his team were all private citizens and volunteered for the tour, and were free to speak their own views although the tour was organized by the Prime Minister’s office.

• Shimanouchi first spoke about the importance of the US-Japan alliance to work against the backdrop of the Asia Pacific area to maintain peace and prosperity in the international community. To maintain the alliance, he said that healthy and strong ties were important on the government level, especially personal ties between the top leaders, ministerial level, business level, and grass root level.
• Regarding the personal ties, he said that President Obama’s visit to Japan was a great success. He also said that frequent visits at ministerial level in the past two years have contributed to bolster the ties between the two countries.
• Although mutual understanding at the grass root level is essential, he was concerned about the decreased number of Japanese exchange students to the U.S. The number has declined by 60 % in the past 15 years. Shimanouchi said, “We have to turn things around. We need to dramatically increase these people to people exchanges with a great sense of urgency. That is the reason why we are here to talk about the present situation in Japan.”

• Shimanouchi spoke about Japan’s economic position, Japan’s role in Asia Pacific, concerns about China’s behaviors, US leadership in Asia Pacific, the right to collective self-defense, importance of rules and regulations, Japan’s revived economy, an aging society, and women’s participation in the workforce.

• The full story is available in the Chicago Shimpo’s 2014, August 8th issue

Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi (R) and Ed Grant, President of
the Japan America Society of Chicago

Consul General Masaharu Yoshida