Distinguished Japanese and U.S. experts launch the "High-Level Working Group on Japan - U.S. Common Economic Challenges"

Launch of the Working Group under the Japan - U.S. Economic Forum project

The April issue of Progress Now featured an article on the lecture by Dr. Adam Posen, President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (February 2014) as the first event of the Japan - U.S. Economic Forum. This issue covers the Forum's second event, "High-Level Working Group on Japan - U.S. Common Economic Challenges", held in Washington D.C. on June 2. Under the cooperation of the SPF, SPFUSA (Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA) and the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), the Working Group was launched as a venue of active debate, specifically on economic issues, inviting prominent economists and former government officials from both Japan and the United States. The inaugural session examined current topics in a streamlined program, covering five themes (productivity slowdowns, long-term fiscal sustainability, effectiveness of fiscal policy and public investment, TPP negotiations and prospects, and monetary policy in the face of extended economic slowdown). The discussion's video is available from the website of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The lineup of Japanese and U.S. economic policy experts attracted the audience of some 110 people for an open panel discussion, held subsequently to the Working Group session.

Use of SPF's network to secure choice members

The project consists of experts at the helm of economic policies from both Japan and the United States. Led by Dr. Motoshige Itoh (Professor at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School and a member of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy), the Japanese team, eight members in all, includes Mr. Kiyoto Ido, the Vice Chairman of the Institute for International Economic Studies, and Prof. Takatoshi Ito of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Posen, President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, chose the members of the U.S. team. Dr. Posen himself is a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, economic advisor to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, a research associate of the Center for the Japanese Economy and Business and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Other members include Dr. Kristin Forbes, a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee and once the youngest-ever member of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, as well as Dr. Peter Orszag, the former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (a rank comparable to a ministerial position) under President Barack Obama and current Vice Chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (Dr. Orszag was also featured in "The Price of Politics" by Bob Woodward, a behind-the-scene book about the White House under the Obama administration). Prof. David Weinstein, the Director of Research at the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at the Columbia Business School, is also a member of this 11-member U.S. panel of experts with broad perspectives beyond economics and in-depth knowledge of the Japanese economy. With the Japanese and U.S. teams combined, the Working Group consists of a total of 19 carefully-selected experts.

Close inter-personal network for mutual cooperation

This project is similar to the "Japan-U.S. legislative exchange" program launched in February this year in that it places its emphasis on interpersonal connections and non-partisan activities that transcend the boundaries of party politics. The SPFUSA Chairman Dennis Blair (former Director of National Intelligence and former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command), who attended the Working Group meeting, said: "This high-level economic dialogue between Japan and the United States has a major significance. With the economy of both countries at a turning point, it is extremely important to explore a framework that enables mutual cooperation." The activities of the Working Group are to be further vitalized in the hope that the individual-level exchange will eventually form a solid pipe, facilitating a network of people who can make direct telephone communication even at the time of bilateral friction.
The next session of the Working Group is to be held in Japan this fall. Details will be released as they become available in Progress Now.

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