U.S. Relations With Japan

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
March 11, 2016

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 Asia-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.

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 2015 the United States and Japan agreed on a new five-year package of host nation support for U.S. forces in Japan. The two countries signed an Environmental Framework Agreement governing environmental stewardship at U.S. bases and also announced a plan for accelerated returns to Japan of select base properties in Okinawa, which will advance the mutually agreed realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the consolidation of U.S. forces on Okinawa.

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 collaborate in science and technology in such areas as brain science, aging, infectious disease, personalized medicine, and international space exploration. The two countries are working intensively to expand already strong people-to-people ties in education, science, and other areas.

Japan and the United States work closely together 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. In Southeast Asia, U.S.-Japan cooperation advances maritime security and economic development. Outside Asia, Japanese political and financial support has substantially strengthened the U.S. position on a variety of global issues arising from challenges to shared interests, including countering ISIL and terrorism, working to stop the spread of the Ebola and other emerging pandemic infections, advancing environmental and climate change goals, maintaining solidarity in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, 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.

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

U.S. economic policy toward Japan seeks 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. The U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship, which is anchored in enormous flows of trade and investment, is strong, mature, and increasingly interdependent. This economic relationship is also firmly rooted in the shared interest and responsibility of the United States and Japan to promote global growth, open markets, and support a system of world trade.

Japan represents a major market for many U.S. goods and services, 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, and wholesale sectors. Japanese direct investment in the United States is mostly in the wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors.

The United States and Japan cooperate in a number of international economic fora. In October 2015, the United States, Japan, and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a comprehensive, high-standard regional trade agreement. The results of parallel discussions between the United States and Japan focused on trade in automobiles and auto parts, insurance, market access for agricultural goods, and other issues were integrated into the TPP agreement.

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, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe 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 50th anniversary 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.

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 January 2016, Japan began its two year role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Also in 2016 Japan assumed the presidency of the G7 and will host ten ministerial meetings during the year as well as the G7 Leaders’ Summit in May 2016.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Japan is Caroline Kennedy; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List

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